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Why EA Should Remove The 46 Playbook

By: Eddie Weekley [baller7345]

I know this isn’t going to be the most popular argument, but hear me out. The 46 defense is not 4 defensive linemen and 6 LBs as is commonly thought by the public but instead the 46 is called the 46 due to guy named Doug Plank. He was the Bears starting Strong Safety and just happen to wear the number 46. The 46 is just a play on the 4-3 with 8 men in the box and 6 men on the line. The 46 defense was and still is based on getting pressure on the QB, namely through sending as many Cover 0 blitzes as one can possibly send. When you don’t send 6 its typically because you are sending more than 6. In its heyday this was an extraordinary concept. Since the passing game was still vertically based it allowed the Bears of the mid 80’s to go on a defensive onslaught that has never been replicated. It caused teams to pull their QBs due to both injury and bad play, and at one point Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense knocked out 9 starting QBs over the course of a season when he was coaching the Houston Oiler’s defense.

So with all that praise why would I be arguing for it to be removed? To put it simply the defense is antiquated now, teams still want to get pressure but they do so in more conservative ways (Fire Zone Blitzes). Why is that, what changed from the mid 80’s to the late 80’s? The 46 met its end the moment the West Coast offense was born in Cincinnati. The offense that Bill Walsh developed to take advantage of his talent problem while coaching the Bengals spelled doom to the 46’s grip over the NFL for one reason. The offense revolved around a quick hitting, timing based passing game which simply negated the pressure that the 46 was trying to bring. Teams could send 6 all day, but it wouldn’t matter because the ball was out before anyone could get home. When you rely on defenders pressed so close to the line to defend timing routes and other man beating concepts (such as Walsh’s Flanker Drive) you have to be perfect and if you aren’t you are going to pay.

The West Coast offense may have killed the 46 defense as a base defense in the NFL, but for whatever reason Madden continues to offer it s an option to players. Thanks in part to the Speed Package it has remained a fan favorite, but I am here to argue that we should let it go. Instead of praising EA for including a defense that has become regulated as a change of pace formation, we ask for it to be removed from the game in place of some more modern defenses. The 46’s situation only gets worse as more spread offensive concepts creep into the NFL and that doesn’t look like it is going to change any time soon.

In this age of spread offenses where teams scatter up to 5 receiving threats all over the field, and take advantage of every mismatch and structural weaknesses that a defense has, Nickel defense is quickly becoming the base defense of the NFL. Yet when you look at the playbooks that teams have in the game it is largely ignored as no team has a true set of nickel defensive fronts, and are usually are stuck with 2-4 nickel formations that don’t always mesh with one another. So why not add a 3-3-5 playbook or perhaps a 4-2-5 book in order to better represent how teams are using their personnel in today’s NFL. Instead of clinging to an antiquated defense that will more than likely never rise from the its grave, EA should build on the nickel sub packages they have in place and make them more complete aspects of a team’s defense. With some teams sitting in their nickel personnel over 70% of their defensive snaps it is almost unthinkable that EA would continue to ignore the importance of Nickel defense. However, year in and year out we get an antiquated 46 book while they ignore the growing trends of the NFL. Now it’s true that nobody in the NFL runs a 3-3-5 as a base but on the other side of that nobody in the NFL still runs a full on 46 so if you are going to force an unused base defense on us it may as well be the one that is more applicable in today’s NFL game.

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  1. I use the 46 almost all the time, I actually just started using the 4-3 which has 46 plays in it. It’s a great run stopper.

  2. So your argument is that it should be taken out because its bad? A lot of teams already have 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 playbooks, so there’s really no need to take it out. It adds a little bit more of an unconventional defensive style. They added the NASCAR package which is cool, but the 46 is just something different. If it were too good, then maybe i’d consider it being taken out, but you shouldn’t take it out for it being inadequate. Each individual player can be good or bad with any playbook. Teams still use the 46 in the NFL, albeit few, so it should stay in the game

    1. I never said to complete remove the formation, but why keep the playbook that uses it as a base defense? It isn’t a base defense anymore and hasn’t been for years. Keep in in the game as an option for the teams that do run it occasionally but there is no need to keep it as a base defense. If you must keep in the game as a base defense then just make it part of the legendary coaches book and add Buddy Ryan to the game.

      You say that teams have 3-3-5 and 4-2-5 play books in the game and I’d have to completely disagree with that. A complete 3-3-5 book would include at least 8 different 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 defensive fronts which currently no team in Madden even comes close too. There are a few playbooks that have some interesting personnel packages with their nickel defenses but there is no playbooks that fully explore the possibilities of running a nickel defense as a base.

      1. Part of football is schemes, shouldnt I be able to run any scheme I chose as my base defense. After all it is my scheme.

  3. You are crazy for suggesting this. Just Because real life 46 doent work doesnt mean it should be removed in madden, i run my defense off the 46. I use for pass coverage, run blocks and blitzing it is to me the best defense to run because of its versatility that is possible because of it. Maybe you dont use it this way i dont know but dont go saying oh someone should do something because i dont undestand why its even there. As per you speed pack i actually tend to run in a mix of normal and speend pending on what play im running or who i am facing.

    1. That is kind of my point though. Why keep a defense that is never going to rise from its grave and become a base defense in the NFL in the game of Madden through a playbook that uses it as a base defense.

      Keep in the playbooks of the teams that use it as a change of pace defense but why do we still have the 46 book. It hasn’t been a base defense in the NFL since the mid 80’s. Isn’t Madden supposed to reflect the NFL of today not 27 years ago?

  4. It’s dumb that they have it as a base formation. They only have 2 sets out of it. They also have 2 sets of Nickel, so why don’t I see a Nickle Playbook?

  5. Great article.

    I’m in agreement with you on this. I use it occasionally but that is because in my 3-4 scheme, I wanted to have a “4 down lineman” formation. In the past didn’t care for the 4-3, but this year I am using the 4-3

  6. i don’t think he men’t on taking the formation out.
    more just the 46 playbook that you can pick.
    it should be removed.
    i like how the are trying to use HOF coach’s playbooks now

  7. Good article–the D is outdated. But as I recall, the key to this D wasn’t 6 on the line. I thought the big difference / key in the 46 was having 3 d-line line up over GCG, meaning it was difficult to double one DE with your T/G (think Richard Dent). The rest is window dressing, but the effectiveness of the package was the D-line formation.

    The newer D’s use this same concept in more effective ways–look at the Giants under Spags / Chicago Sugar D with two LB’s on the center. The evolution was that the threat of pressure up the middle can be just as effective as actual pressure, since you hold the C / G until they know you are not blitzing.

    1. correct correct, also it was designed to shut the run down up the middle and the faster runners couldn’t get past the safeties on the outside.

  8. “I had to use every bit of knowledge and experience and wisdom I had to come up with game plans to attack this defense. It’s really the most singular innovation in defensive football in the last twenty years.”

    Bill Walsh on the 46 defense in an ESPN interview.

    The 46 defense is a hyper-aggressive variant of the 4-3 base set. So it should be an available inclusion of a 4-3 base set but I don’t see that it should be the base set.

  9. your right in some parts but also it was to stop the run and make QB’s use their time outs i noticed that a lot. not always will the bears or eagles both who used it would rush the QB they would back off into the 43. this would cause the QB to audible his plans then they’d quickly move back into a 46 on play to me that’s what made it so dominating. but as you said the west coast offense over came the way it worked bill watched the tapes really well.

  10. You’re dead wrong about all of this. The problem has nothing to do with spread offenses “negating the 46” ….. The problem is EA sports having absolutley ZERO knowledge about the actual 46 scheme and coverages. The 46 playbook in madden and NCAA would make any true 46 fan who understands it laugh aloud. I believe out of the whole formation they have 6 or 7 plays and out of all those plays only 2 of them involve using more than 4 or 5 guys to blitz. The rest of the plays are so stupid and not true to the real scheme. The 85 bears would blitz all 3 nose tackles, one defensive end, two linebackers from the strong side and sometimes on occasion the safety or middle backer. But rarely did they just send 4 rushers out of the 46 defense which EA’s playbook has for about 98% of the plays. And the coverages and blitz stunts are a crapshoot too and non existant in ea’s playbook. It’s a perfect example of computer geeks thinking they have a clue about football