Best Vertical Zone Run Playbook

Elaine Sutton
• Friday, 25 December, 2020
• 7 min read

For those that love scheme lords and have been waiting for their turn calling the shots, Madden 20 offers the chance to take over and control your favorite team. One of the best things about Madden this year is new and expanded playbooks that include RPO (run -pass option) plays as well as fresh looks for new coaches like Cliff Kings bury and the returning Gary Kodiak.


Knowing which playbook best suits your own style of quick passes, outside runs, or deep bombs is half the battle to finding success in Madden 20. There should definitely be an honorable mention to the New England Patriots on this list, but with the addition of Cliff Kings bury to the league it might be time to try something a little different.

Shotgun cluster is an exciting new package where the TE is not attached to the line and is very popular in the college ranks. A receiving TE and HE will thrive under these spread style plays with lots of short yardage opportunities.

Despite the team's recent performances, there seems to be consensus this year in Madden 20 that this playbook is the most powerful for offensive football. With the return of Jon Green last year, this playbook has been overhauled to reflect the tactical mind of the head coach.

The 46 package can be lethal, it subs your 3rd and 4th CB's for your Lbs and the 3-3-5 set is powerful when spying a fast QB. You will need to learn how to maximize your substitutions to ensure you don't end up with players in entirely the wrong positions and leaving mismatches for your opposition to take advantage of.

These playbooks are brilliant to use in Ultimate Team as they provide a lot of variety and disguise to your play. This page presents some tips for finding the right playbooks for your play style in Madden NFL 20.

Although your personal play style should always be the main aspect to consider when choosing your playbooks, there are enough differences in the two modes that it may change your approach. Note that in BUT, you can easily buy new Playbook Cards if you need to make a change.

Simply put: it's much easier to change the players around in BUT because you can acquire new cards through the Auction House or Trading Block. In a realistic Franchise Mode, it's more difficult to acquire many new players at once because of the salary cap and roster limit.

Even if you have no interest in playing Franchise Mode, you may want to enter a file anyway and go to the Schemes screen. The important feature here though is that the game will give you a short description of the playbook and its overall philosophy.

In the screenshot below, we see this Steelers team is running the “PIT M Tomlin” playbook its general description is at the top-right, stating that it uses “a base 3-4 scheme that focuses on generating pressure from multiple directions.” This means the playbook is built around different blitzes and a variety of different, flexible defensive plays. Note that you only have access to the 32 team playbooks on both offense and defense in Franchise Mode.

The highlighted card in the screenshot is a Cover 2 defense, which may or may not work with the rest of your team. To find it, head to Exhibition Mode on the main menu, then select the Skills Trainer tile.

Playbooks focused on 3-4 formations are less predictable but require better players to pull off consistently. Teams with the 3-4 formation playbooks include the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots.

Conversely, playbooks focused on 4-3 formations are more predictable, more “classic,” and put a bit more consistent pressure on the quarterback. Teams with 4-3 formation playbooks include the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, and New York Jets.

This Madden NFL 21 Playbook guide will go over the best Offense, Defense and Overall books in the game. Madden NFL 21 has brought little changes from the previous entries in terms of the best playbooks.

You can think of playbooks as guidebooks that come with their unique formations, strategies, personnel, defensive, and offensive options. However, there are other playbooks that are more suited to players who are just starting the game and getting a feel for their defensive capabilities.

It has some solid Gun plays that you can turn to with very tight doubles but one notable formation is Bunch T/E which is difficult to stop. In addition to being good for running, this playbook has some great passing plays as well.

New Orleans Saints This Playbook has been renowned over the years because of its great offense capabilities. You get a wide variety of choices in Shotgun plays such as Y off Trio WK which is great for running.

I Form Tight, Slot Flex and Close are all great, so this playbook allows you to cover some ground efficiently. Spread Y-Flex is a wonderful formation with many options such as Raven HE Seam, RPO Zone Peak, PA Deep Outs, and 8-ball.

Running Quarterbacks can take advantage of the Gun Y Trio Offset WK formation. It has options such as Inside Zone Split, PA FL screen and Z Under.

West Coast Alternate This one isn’t particularly stacked, but it makes up for it with some quality formations. The Gun Bunch formation has a lot to offer in terms of unique plays.

WR Post is an amazing pass play that is rare so don’t expect to find this in a lot of the other playbooks. The Gun Bunch play Deep Corner is similarly unique to this playbook.

Stick has one of the best corner outs in Madden NFL so don’t take it for granted. All this variety earns this Playbook the spot on the top of many lists every year.

The Shotgun has the best Split Close in the Madden NFL 21 because of impressive plays such as X Drag Trail, Pats Curls, Z Spot and others. You’ve also got the Gun Y Off Trips Pats which is unique to only a few playbooks but plays best her.

The Gun Ace Slot is one of the best formations because it allows you to run the ball across the field easily. It has some solid Gun plays that you can turn to with very tight doubles but one notable formation is Bunch T/E which is difficult to stop.

In addition to being good for running, this playbook has some great passing plays as well. A variant of the Spread Offensive scheme, the Air Raid gives the quarterback control of the play at the line of scrimmage.

This offense focuses in on passing plays, but trusts the quarterback to diagnose the defense and call audibles when running lanes open. A quality Field General quarterback helps convert critical 3rd and short situations.

The VerticalZoneRun uses agile offensive lineman to create multiple holes for the halfback to chose from. It forces the defense into assignment conflicts by taking downfield shots via play action passing.

The West Coast Power Run creates a weakness in the defense by stretching it out horizontally with short passing. The West Coast Spread is designed to keep the defense guessing with a focus on short passing horizontally across the field.

The West Coast Zoner is designed to utilize short passing to keep the possession of the ball. In the run game, offensive linemen use quickness and combination blocks to spring the halfback through the gaps.

The 3-4 excels at generating pressure with clever blitzes and is a solid defense against base running plays. Quarters, also known as Cover 4, is a scheme that puts for defenders deep, but allows for opportunities to split the field in man and zone coverage.

It requires solid fill in players at both the defensive line and linebacker positions to utilize its full potential. Ultimately, unless you’re playing at the highest levels, player skill will always trump what playbook you pick in Madden 20.

If you’re using a highly mobile QB such as Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, or someone of that ilk, you’re going to want to use a playbook that encourages that style of play. Taking advantage of the new RPO plays is something you might find attractive and the Panthers have a nice mix of them which isn’t surprising considering who is at the helm there.

If you’re going for a more traditional passing offense, you could opt for the Patriots which are built around Tom Brady sitting in the pocket and throwing the ball all around the field. Finally, if you want a more balanced attack that features both running and passing plays, our two picks for that would be the Giants, which are going to rely heavily on the run with Squad Barkley but are also built around a statue of a QB in Eli Manning, and the Saints which are the most effective balanced attack in the league.

The best defensive playbook in Madden 20 is always going to be dependent on what players you have and what you prefer. As far as which teams have the defensive playbooks for each scheme, well we’d recommend the Jaguars if you like the 4-3.

For the 3-4, the Ravens have built an enduring competitive dynasty off of their strong linebacker play with hall of fame after hall of fame joining their LB ranks, and they’ve been a staple choice year after year in Madden for the playbook’s versatility. There are so many formations in the Ravens defensive playbook such as quarter packages (designed to stop long passes), aggressive blitz plays, and traditional base 3-4 plays that leverage linebackers to stop the run.

If you’re serious about high-level play in Madden 20, what you really need to do is take your team into practice, learn about the various formations that you can use on both offense and defense, and get a feel for what works best with your personnel. It’s clearer in modes like Franchise, but with a mixed-up squad in Ultimate Team, it can be a bit confusing.

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