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How To Run The Tampa 2 Defense in Madden

The Tampa 2 is not a defense you will find people too many playing in Madden.  Some say it has too many holes and others say the game simply cannot replicate how a Tampa 2 works.  I disagree.

When utilized correctly, you will find that the Tampa 2 defense is one of the most devastatingly effective defenses in Madden and will cause some serious headaches for opposing offenses.

Continue reading below to find out what personnel you need and why these players will be crucial for your Tampa 2 success.

1) Elite Tacklers

“What? Of course you need good tacklers on defense” you say, however, how high your tackle success rate is is even more important for the Tampa 2 due the scheme being a bend but don’t break style.

This relies on keeping offensive gains to a minimum and forcing mistakes from the quarterback when they decide to take a regretful risk.

2) Hard cornerbacks

What is a Hard Cornerback? A Hard Cornerback is someone who is a great tackler, can shed blocks to stop the run and has good press coverage. Tampa 2 corners often are good at assisting in run support in case the QB decides to scramble or the running back bounces to the outside.

Press coverage is also a high priority because the corners need to jam and force the WRs toward the middle of the field before they begin their route (do cover 2 against cpu and watch them do it).

In a Tampa 2 defense, you don’t need to have the best corners in the game, they just need some specific characteristics in order to be successful. Remember, the Tampa 2 is primarily used with players more suited to a zone style defense, so having a Darrelle Revis on your team is great, but they don’t NEED to be able to shadow WR’s all over the field.

3) Great Front 4

The 4 defensive linemen are probably the most important positions in order for a Tampa 2 to be effective. The reason behind this is that you need them to be able to create pressure without having to blitz an additional linebacker. If they cannot create enough pressure, your defense will be covering for too long and the coverage will eventually break down.

This is why the 2013 Bears were one of the worst defencss in history; they could not get any pressure from their front 4. You could argue that that the same is true with any defense, but it is especially important for this style. You will want speed rushers on each end, and at least 1 pass rushing defensive tackle (Eg: Geno Atkins, Ndamukong Suh). Having at least one athletic DT would be advisable for Madden as it also gives you the option of putting him in a hook/spy.

4) A MLB who is an athletic freak

This guy needs to have speed, coverage skills, and run stopping ability. He is the anchor of the defense and because it’s a Tampa 2, he will need to protect the deep middle in-between the two safeties, so he must have the speed to get there and everywhere else fast enough (Think Brian Urlacher and Derrick Johnson).

When choosing what side the linebackers play on, consider the fact that when players run the ball, more often than not they run to the right hand side. Acknowledging this, you should put your best run stopping linebacker in the LOLB position (high block shed, hit power, tackle..) and your best coverage linebacker in the ROLB position. The lowest zone coverage you can probably get away with for a LB is about 75, anything less and you shouldn’t do a play without usering him.

Due to the fact that most RTs are generally better run blockers and most LTs are generally better pass blockers, you can choose to put your best pass rusher at LE so he faces the RT. Doing so sacrifices your strength against the run however, so it is up to you which you value more. If you have an end that is good at both pass rush and run stopping then great (such as Justin Tuck), LE is the spot.


The weaknesses of the Tampa 2 D are the seams where WRs and TEs can often get in behind the cornerback and beneath the safety for a nice gain. With a conventional cover 2 the deep middle would also be a weakness.

However, with the Tampa 2 the middle LB actually goes much deeper than usual, which is what makes it that bit more effective. This is the reason that it may be useful to have a faster and more athletic defensive tackle in a hook/spy on occasion and surprise the offense by protecting under the MLB.

This is a bend but don’t break defense, so the idea is that you give up small chunks of yardage at a time, limiting the big plays and waiting for the offense to make mistakes. This defense is particularly effective when within the redzone which is why teams like the Bears indeed give up yardage on the stats sheet, but are able to hold their opponents to a relatively low score by forcing them to take field goals rather than touchdowns.

Additional Notes

  • Of course, big hitters are always a plus. Hard corners usually have a bit more hit power in them than other corners.
  • I would advise brushing up on your user MLB usering skills – this defense is most effective when he is usered so you can really take away the deep middle and post routes.

Written by ChatMonkey

Leave a comment

  1. Which playbooks can u find this play in?

    1. The Play is called ‘Cover 2 Buc’ in Madden rather than ‘Tampa 2’ – It should be in most 4-3 teams defensive Playbooks. Any play in the playbook that says ‘cover 2 ‘ on it you can shift in to a Tampa 2 such as Cover 2 sink.

      1. How would you shift it it into a tampa 2 defense?

        1. If it was a cover 2 sink just ensure that your MLB is patrolling the deep middle. Put your corners in press coverage so that they ‘jam’ the wide receivers towards the centre of the field after the snap. In addition to this i like to occasionally put a D-linesman in a spy just to throw the offense off a bit.

          Remember, the tampa 2 is just your base coverage. It is fantastic when used with the right personnel but it will not be effective against things like a 4 or 5 WR set. Make sure you throw in a disguised coverage here and there to keep the offense on their toes.

  2. Are there any teams that you would recommend running this type of defense with?

    1. My personal favourite is the New York Jets. With their Big 3 of Wilkerson, Richardson and new acquisition Leonard Williams that is a very scary prospect with all of them starting on the Defensive Line. In addition to this, rookie 1st round draft pick Darron Lee has about 91 speed in Madden 17 and almost elite zone coverage, which is just insane for a Linebacker and fits the bill for a Cover 2 perfectly.

      Other favourites include the Panthers and Bengals.

      Don’t be afraid to reorganise depth charts to suit you!

  3. Question: is Tampa 2 a good defensive scheme in a pass-happy league? If not, then what is?

    1. The Tampa 2 is very versatile. In order for it to be effective against the pass it would be worth switching out one of your linebackers for your Nickel cb.

      One of my favourite audibles is to switch one of my corners into man coverage and then put the same sides Defensive end in a zone to defend where that previous corner would have been. That really catches opposing offense off-guard.

      Audibles are your friend! Get creative and remember that the primary weakness is in-between the corner and the safety. If someone keeps abusing that, control the safety and get the pick.

    1. Was just about to post regarding Ny_kia’s link.

      Also great post man. I didn’t show enough appreciation for the Cover 2 or creating Tampa 2 in M16 as I wished I did until the last month or so. Will definitely be using it alot more in M17.

      1. Thanks mate! Hope it is successful for you!

  4. can you blitz out of this formation? Also is it a playbook all by itself or are you grabbing the play from a 4-3? Sorry if this was asked already.

    1. Yes you can find some nice blitzes and get creative. Of course, a 3-4 will be a bit better to blitz out of as you have that additional LB on the field. There are teams with good 4-3 playbooks but otherwise check out the pure cover 2 playbook, it offers a lot and is my personal favourite.

      To bed honest mate, the Tampa 2 is most effective if you can get enough pressure without blitzing. This is why you need a good front 4. It really If the only way you an get pressure is by blitzing an LB then you will have a problem. So if you are in a league, put an emphasis on building a solid defensive line with an elite pass rusher or two and you should not have to blitz often.

      1. Thanks for the info, I appreciate it. I’ll look at the cover two playbook.

  5. Smith and his Tampa 2-running colleagues were once the toast of the NFL, but now he and they have been burned to a crisp by modern offenses. Their twist on the classic Cover 2 defense forever known as the Tampa 2 enabled teams to smother short and deep passing routes, generate pass rush without blitzing and stop the run with a coordinated one-gap system.