Mastering a handful of Madden 23 playbooks is the best way to advance your coaching skills from Matt Rhule to Matt LaFluer. Welcome, then, to a Madden 23 guide which aims to do exactly that. It's sorted into three sections. The first concerns offense, the second defense, and the third on user-created playbooks, which you can download from the ‘Share & Manage Files’ menu. Ready to expand your game beyond Hail Marys and QB rollouts? Then your Madden 23 playbooks guide can begin.
The best five offensive playbooks
From Shotgun-heavy compendiums to sets focussed on the running game, these are the playbooks to consider if you want to torch opposition Ds.
NE: NE Coach
Want a pass-heavy playbook with minimal use for a full-back? Then New England is the best for you. It features 12 Shotgun formations and a further 7 Singleback ones. Only its three I-Form formations (Slot, Tight, and Z Close) utilise a second RB. Just make sure you use a pocket QB to make the most of it. Without that second body to protect you, you’ll be sacked repeatedly if you start haring around in the backfield.
KC: A. Reid
The Chiefs’ offensive gameplan in recent years has focussed on giving Pat Mahomes time and space to target options downfield, or keep the game alive with his legs. Inevitably, then, this playbook is all about the Shotgun plays. There are a staggering 19 Shotgun formations in total, most of them using a 1RB - 1TE - 3WR set-up. The lone outlier is Wing Flex Offset Wk (1RB - 2TE - 2WR). With your opponent focussed on long passes, be sure to mix in the Strong I Jumbo (2RB - 3TE - 0WR) occasionally too.
LAR: S. McVay
An astonishing playbook, in that every single formation is either Shotgun or Singleback. No I-Form, no formations using a second running back: Sean McVay’s Super Bowl champs are known for their offensive aggression and from that perspective this doesn’t disappoint. Shotgun Trips HB Wk is the one that poses the most questions for an opposition D, with a make-up of 1RB - 0TE - 4WR. Singleback Bunch X Nasty also lives up to its name, mixing in downfield routes with a couple of sneaky outs.
LV: J. McDaniels
Want to establish an old-fashioned running game, deploying two backs in order to grind out yards and wear defenses down? Then Josh McDaniels’ Raiders playbook is the one for you. It offers six formations with a 2RB - 1TE - 2WR set-up, across a standard I Form, Weak I, and Strong I. But there’s balance here too: 12 of its formations switch to a 1RB - 1TE - 3WR layout, delivering plenty of aerial choices should you fall behind. Old school, then, but not in a way that’ll prevent you turning round a 14-point deficit. Phew.
BAL: J. Harbaugh
Arguably the best playbook of the lot. Its passing formations enable you to make the most of a mobile, big-armed quarterback like Lamar Jackson, yet it’s brilliantly suited for a running game too – with 11 formations that double up on running backs. Imagine going from Pistol Weak I Slot Open (2RB - 0TE - 3WR) on first down, to Singback Wing Tight U (1RB - 3TE - 1WR) on second down, to Pistol Spread (1RB - 0TE - 4WR) on third. It’s a nightmare for defenses to keep up with, and should therefore be the first playbook you learn and master.
The best Madden 22 defensive playbooks
Offense wins matches, but defense wins titles. Or does it? Master these tactical approaches to find out for yourself.
NE: NE Coach
Yes, New England again. The Pats might have slipped out of Super Bowl contention since Tom Brady’s departure, but with Bill Belichick at the helm their Madden playbooks remain wonderfully unique. On D their playbook offers up options to confuse even the best QBs. Technically it’s based around a 3-4 set-up, but there are only three base formations: myriad other options include two 4-3 sets, three based in a Dime, and three more in the Nickel. Blitzers can be dispatched from all manner of surprise locations, making for a D that’s creative, fun, and effective too.
BUF: S. McDermott
Buffalo had the best D in the league in 2021, offering a stingy 4637 yards across the season. (New England was second, on 5284 – a difference of over 600.) As a result their playbook needs to be taken seriously, and it doesn’t disappoint. With five 4-3 sets it’s all about stuffing the run and hurrying opposition QBs, making it especially effective against AI teams in franchise mode. Online matches can be tougher, given how often human-controlled QBs go sprinting around behind the line of scrimmage, but a trio of handy Nickel sets offers help on that front.
The best Madden 23 created playbooks
To use these, choose Rosters & Playbooks, then Share & Manage Files, then Download Community Files. From here you’re presented with a stack of fan-created tactics for use on both sides of the ball. You can search for a specific playbook or username by using triangle (PlayStation) or Y (Xbox), or cycle through sorting categories such as Likes, Dislikes and Downloads using square (PlayStation) or X (Xbox).
The most downloaded fan-made roster is ‘Custompan3’ by Gorilla-DON. It’s popular because it contains a little bit of everything: one Full House formation, one Pistol, three I-Form, one Strong I, one Weak I, 16 based in the Shotgun, and eight Singleback formations. So while your receivers are going to snag plenty of balls, there are cheeky routes for your tight ends and running backs sprinkled throughout too.
Creator fam4223 has produced the most popular defensive playbook, called Miked. It’s largely centered around 3-4 sets, with six in total – but there are two 4-3 formations, four Nickles, three Dimes and two Quarters at your disposal too. If you’re concerned about your secondary constantly being beaten deep in online matches, this is a really good starter playbook to get your head around.