One of the most challenging aspects of Madden to perfect is short-game passing defense. If you aren’t a Madden pro, it’s likely that you’ve been cut up by opposing QBs underneath quite a few times.

Teams with good QBs will be able to utilize attacking playbooks with lots of slant and curl routes in order to beat both zone and man coverage defense.

Luckily there are a bunch of helpful tips and tricks you can use to improve your short pass coverage.

You don’t have to be an All-Madden level user defender in order to use these tips. If you want to be able to stop short passes in Madden 23, use these five methods.

Shade Defenders Underneath

Shading is an option in the pre-play menu on defense that allows you to give extra directions to your CPU-controlled coverage defenders.

In order to access the shading controls, you must click on the right stick to open the pre-play menu and then press triangle/Y on controller to bring up the shading options.

In order to successfully defend against short passes, it is critical that you utilize the underneath shading option. You can do so by moving the right stick down in the Shading menu.

For every play that you want to focus on defending the short or intermediate pass, you must press in on the right stick, and then press triangle/Y, and finally flick down on the right stick.

This will tell your CPU defenders to play tight and close defense and be ready for short passing routes such as stick and curl routes.

Without shading underneath, your defenders will play soft coverage deep, waiting for the receivers to go down the field. This will allow opposing offenses to lay simple passes underneath and rack up first downs.

User Control your Middle Linebacker

If you want to control the short passing game, you actually have to get in there and user-control the middle of the field.

Your CPU defenders can only do so much, and it is up to you to defend the most targeted area of the field.

Most of the time, your middle linebacker will be tasked with either zone covering between the hash marks or playing man coverage on the running back or tight end.

Either way, the MLB is defending against the most critical aspect of the short pass game and is the most important defender on the field.

CPU AI in Madden has taken leaps and strides in the past few years, but it is still prone to making dumb mistakes and being inconsistent. You are still the best defender on your team; make sure you are in the most important position on the field.


No matter which player you are ushering in coverage, it is important to be holding the left trigger to strafe while moving before the ball is thrown.

Strafing will square your defender’s hips toward the line of scrimmage, keeping you facing forward, ready to make a play.

You don’t want your defender turned around right as the ball is about to be thrown in your direction.

Strafing also allows you to stay more controlled as well as to get in a good position to make a tackle or to make a play on the ball. When the user controls a coverage defender, strafing (left trigger) is the most important control to know.

Play Man to Man Defense

It’s essential to have the best defensive playbooks for defending the short pass. These playbooks often utilize a lot of man-to-man defense.

The benefit to man-to-man defense is that you will rarely have wide-open receivers that an offense can throw to, unlike zone coverages that can often be exploited because of the gaps in coverage and the need for defensive cohesiveness.

Man-to-man coverage allows for every receiver to have a dedicated defender on them, which removes the ability for smart offensive players to find weaknesses in your zone coverage and spam short passes into uncovered areas.

With man-to-man coverage, the offensive player will have to use specific targeting controls to avoid a pass defense.

Get Talented Coverage Players

As much as you can try to use pure skill and playing tricks in order to dominate on defense, you’ll still struggle if you are playing with a bunch of low overall no-namers.

It is important to add quality coverage cornerbacks, linebackers, and safeties to your roster regardless of what game mode you are playing.

There are three big attributes to look out for when you are looking to add coverage players. They are press coverage, zone coverage, and man coverage.

Ideally, you want players to have 80+ attributes in at least two of those categories, specifically man coverage, as we already highlight the importance of man-to-man coverage schemes.

The higher rate in those categories, the better chance they will be able to defend against short passes effectively.