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FAQ/Strategy Guide by MCS

Version: 0.7 | Updated: 09/14/02


                         Insert ASCII Title Here


Game - Madden NFL 2003
Release Date - Aug 2002
System - PlayStation 2

Strategy Guide

v0.7 [September 14th, 2002]

written by Matthew Sontum (MCS) 

Document (c)2002.  All Rights Reserved.  With a Vengeance!
Disclaimer: The team mentioned in this document, The Boston Phoenix, has 
absolutely no affiliation with the paper of the same name or the radio station 
FNX. However, with a little corporate sponsorship it certainly could (Wink, 
wink, Storm and Birdsey) 

To quickly find a chapter, press CONTROL-F, then type the chapter's ID#
All chapter ID numbers are <ID# + the full chapter number>
For example, Chapter I.A.1 is <ID#IA1>, chp. IV is <ID#IV>

Also note that the chapters should be read in order, as they walk you through 
the process of creating a Championship team from Start to Finish. The first two 
steps are optional, however, they are strongly recommended. 

                       T A B L E  O F  C O N T E N T S
     I.     Customizing Your Team
     II.     Mastering The Basics
          A.     Offense
               1.     Running
               2.     Passing
               3.     Receiving
          B.     Defense
               1.     Defensive Line
               2.     Linebackers
               3.     Defensive Backs
          C.     Special Teams
               1.     Kicking
               2.     Punting
               3.     K/P Return
     III.     Writing Your Playbook
          A.     Offense
          B.     Defense
          C.     The Phoenix
               1.     Phoenix Rising
               2.     Phoenix Falling
          D.     The 'Unbeatable' Plays
               1.     Unbeatable O
                    a.     The Rising
                    b.     The Devil
                    c.     The $#@%
               2.     Unbeatable D
                    a.     The Zero
                    b.     The Gritz Blitz
                    c.     The Kitchen Sink
     IV.     Drafting Your Team
          A.     General Strategy
          B.     Position Importance
          C.     Ranking By Position (Coming Soon)
          D.     Target Players
          E.     Sleepers
          F.     How The Computer Drafts
     V.     Balancing Your Roster
          A.     What The Positions Do
          A.     What The Stats Mean
     VI.     Taking It To Preseason
     VII.     Dominating The Regular Season
          A.     Offense
          B.     Defense
          C.     Special Teams
     VIII.     Winning The Playoffs
     IX.     Doing It All Again Next Year
     X.     The Boston Phoenix
     XI.     Madden-isms

I just wanted to get everything out here; I haven't had as much experience 
playing Madden 2003 as I have had playing 2001 yet, so the a lot of the tricks 
were drawn from Madden 2001. However, they have all been tested, at least in 
practice mode, in Madden 2003. I will make updates as I go along.

More General Play Strategies, Extended Player Rankings, Player Development, 
Extended Madden Humor Section, Basics Tutorial and More Updates on the
Progress of my Team (The Boston Phoenix)

v0.7 [September 14, 2002]
Additions: Tips and Tricks section for general play
           The 'Unbeatable' Plays
           The Phoenix Formations
Revisions: A lot of formatting changes to get the guide ready for .txt
           A few content changes based on Madden 2003 practice mode

v0.6 [August 30, 2002]
Additions: Draft results + starting lineup for The Boston Phoenix,
           More Sleepers, 
           New Section - Madden-isms, 
Revisions: Misc. Revisions, this revision section  

v0.5 [August 15, 2002]
Every good guide needs to start somewhere. The guide will eventually cover 
every aspect of managing a successful franchise, but for starters it will 
mainly focus on the initial draft and creation of your team. If you have 
anything you would like to contribute, don't hesitate to email me at 

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about managing a 
successful Madden 2003 franchise football team. Using this guide will help you 
take your team to the Super Bowl the first year and every year. I wrote it 
because I was hoping someone online would pick this guide up and accept my 
challenge. My roommates and friends are all terrible and the computer is 
predictable except on All-Madden Mode which is frustrating for different 
reasons (not the least of which being that the ball has a tendency to somehow 
morph through my defenders when I've got the computer in triple coverage.)

Chapter One: Customizing Your Team                                       <ID#I>

If you don't have a favorite team, then it's usually a good idea to create your 
own. Even if you do have a favorite team, if plan to do the fantasy draft you 
can always create a custom team and with your favorite team's colors. The 
reason is that during the first year the draft pick values are determined by 
your team's performance during the last two seasons. Also note that while the 
Patriots won the SuperBowl last year, their overall team rating is still only 
82 (as compared to the Rams 94) Since draft pick worth is determined primarily 
by inverse overall ranking, this means that the Patriots picks are worth more 
than the Rams. This means that the new expansion team (Texans) draft picks are 
worth the most overall and the SuperBowl Contending Rams draft picks are worth
the least. If you plan to do the fantasy draft then you should customize your 
team and make them take the place of the Texans (unless of course your favorite 
team happens to be the Texans.) If you do not plan to participate in the 
fantasy draft I would strongly suggest using your custom team to replace the 
Rams. Not only is their team, without question, one of the most dominating 
franchises in football today, but if you replace the Rams you can guarantee 
that no one else will control Marshall Faulk or Kurt Warner because you will 
already have both of them.

Try to pick team colors that will make you look good and intimidate your 
opponent. Towards this end blue, black, white, red and gold usually work for 
the best effect. Unfortunately, since Madden will only allow you to select 
bright red and bright blue, your primary color will probably have to be black.

For example, my team, the Boston Phoenix, have black as their primary, blue for 
their shoulder stripes and brown/gold for their helmet and everything else. The 
overall effect is an extremely cool cross between the Raiders and the Rams.

Chapter Two: Mastering The Basics                                       <ID#II>

This is a placeholder to remind myself that I need to add this section for the 
sake of completeness eventually. For now, I assume that you already understand 
the basics of the game from the manual and other FAQs, and you mainly want to 
concentrate on improving your play.

Chapter Three: Writing Your Playbook                                   <ID#III>

Writing an effective playbook is an important part of creating a successful 
franchise team. It's best to start with existing playbooks and use them to mix 
and match a winning one. Since football has been around for a long time, the 
most effective formations have already been thought up. However, since this is, 
after all, a video game, it's still a good idea to take the liberty to create 
two unique formations that I've outlined called The Phoenix.

     A. Offense <ID#IIIA>

The four most useful offensive formations that you will utilize the most often 
are the I-Form, Shotgun, Goal Line, and Offset-I (these should be countered with 
the 4-3, Dime, Goal Line and 3-4 defenses respectively) You can certainly get by 
with just these formations, but since you have room in your playbook, why not 
mix it up with the Split and Singleback formations.

     1. Passing <ID#IIIA1>

All good passing plays should have these characteristics.
1. There should be enough offensive linemen to protect the QB
2. Both WR should begin the play running straightforward, and either keep moving 
straightforward (fly) or pull to the inside (post) or outside (out)
3. There should be at least two more options to pass, ideally the Halfback and 
the Tight End, Fullback or another Wide Receiver.

     2. Running <ID#IIIA2>

There are no good running plays. Ha ha, seriously though, if anyone out there in 
Madden Land knows how to run write me and I will update this section. For now, 
here's how NOT to run:

1. Don't try the inside run, it will only bring shame to you and your family.
2. Don't try the outside run for the same reason.
3. Any lead blocking runs are straight out.
4. In fact, don't use blocking altogether; it will only break down when you need 
it most.
5. Since you're going to get tackled -- Sprint (so you will get tackled faster!)
6. The off-tackle and halfback counter runs are ok, but there are still the 
shame, short yardage issues.
7. Do not, under any circumstances, try to use any clever jukes/stiff arms to 
get out of the way, you will only fall down and look stupid (Shame... SHAME!)
8. In fact, just to be safe, no running plays period, throw it to your back if 
it's that important he get the ball.
9. Spin around a lot.

As you've guessed, the majority of that last bit was sarcasm aimed at the Madden 
2003 staff. In real life there are many effective running plays, in Madden there 
are only two. So the DO list is pretty simple:

1. Always run an Off-tackle or Counter play.
2. Always sprint (unless your RB is tired)
3. Always feed it to your HB in the open field.
4. Only use the dive, hurdle, sprint and spin moves.

     B. Defense <ID#IIIB>

The most useful defensive plays come out of a modified Dime formation called The 
Phoenix, which is discussed in the next chapter. If you do not wish to take the 
time, for all intents and purposes, all of the plays will work with the original 
Dime, my formation just makes it more effective vs. the Short Pass and Side Run 
(at the expense of the Long Pass.) Every good defensive play follows three basic 

1. There is enough pressure on the QB to force him to pass early.
2. Every potent WR on the other team draws at least single coverage.
3. Your opponent can never break a run play for a big gain.
4. You play aggressively enough to generate turnovers.

Luckily there happens to be one defensive play that does all that and then some. 
A defensive play that even if you know is coming you cannot defend against. A 
defensive play that ... Is discussed in the next chapter :)

     C. The Phoenix <ID#IIIC>

Well by now you knew it was coming, the ultimate defensive and offensive 
formations. The Panacea of the Pigskin, the Triumph of the Turf, the Deus ex 
Machina of the ... Well anyway, these sets are awfully good. The offensive 
formation sets up nicely for Hail Mary type plays, the defensive formation is a 
modified version of the Dime that stuffs EVERYONE, provided you have the right 
defensive personnel and they don't have any standout WRs (Moss, Owens, Harrison, 
etc.) Don't worry, if you follow the guide you should already have the right 
defense set to make this work, and you should call it on every play (the 
computer never learns)

     1. Phoenix Rising (Offense) <ID#IIIC1>

This is you basic Hail Mary setup, five receivers, all spread out equally on the 
line and across the field. From left to right, we have WR2, HB1, TE1, WR3, WR1. 
The point of this formation is that if they blitz you, someone should be open 
for a quick pass. If they hold back, you should have enough time in the pocket 
to hit someone for a big gain. Sadly, this formation is still not better than 
the simple I-Form (the bread and butter of our offense) so no specific plays 
will be mentioned here. All plays that I like to call from this formation are 
either long passing plays or short dumps to my Running Back.

     ii. Phoenix Falling (Defense) <ID#IIIC2>

This is a modified version of the Dime defensive set. All of the positions used 
are exactly the same as the Dime, so all you will need to do is to move them 
around a bit. From the Dime set, move the slot (inner) Cornerbacks two squares 
forward. This is to allow them to blitz more effectively. Next move the two 
outside Cornerbacks one square in. This will cause them to lineup on the inside 
of the WRs they are guarding. Now, for the biggest change, move the two safeties 
three squares forward and two squares out. This will allow them to cover the 
short pass and side runs plays more effectively. As you may have guessed this 
defensive set has only three potential weaknesses: The long pass, the short 
possession pass and a run up the middle for a big gain. The first is negated by 
your two dynamite outside Cornerbacks (you do have two dynamite outside 
cornerbacks don't you ;) The second is negated by your two dynamite safeties, 
you do have ... The third is negated by ^$!@$y Madden inside run dynamics (no 
one ever gets a big gain from an inside run, the longest one I've gotten was 60 
yards and that was a fluke created by a big pileup and about 20 missed tackles.)
     D. The 'Unbeatable' Plays <ID#IIID>

In real life, no play is unbeatable, which is good because it would definitely 
take the fun out of the game. In real life, players adapt (eventually) and in 
time all but the best plays become passé once people know they are coming. Even 
the once mighty Gritz Blitz, which lead the 1977 Atlanta Falcons to a historic 
129 points allowed over a 14 game season (yes, this is less than 10 points per 
game!) Was eventually abandoned in favor of more conventional tactics. However, 
the great thing here is, the computer never adapts, if it beats the computer 
once, it will beat them one thousand times, which brings us to:

     i. Unbeatable O <ID#IIID1>

Unbeatable simply means that you should score on 90% of your drives, if you have 
the balls to go for it consistently on 4th down, this should go up to 95%.

     a. The Rising <ID#IIID1a>

Also known as: The only offensive play you will ever need. Seriously, I tried 
this 20 times in practice mode, and I have yet to see a situation where there 
isn't a wide open target for a 10 yard+ gain. If not the WR, then the TE. If not 
the HB then the FB. The only real problem I see with this play is defending 
against a strong blitz or if your offensive line breaks down. Otherwise:

WR1: 25 yd fly
WR2: 25 yd fly
TE: Hard Inward slant off the line
FB: Hard Flats Arc
FB: Soft Flats Arc

     b. The Devil <ID#IIID1b>

Called the devil because it looks like a set of horns. Slight variant on Rising:

WR1: Custom route – Inward slant, fly, outward slant, fly
WR2: Same
TE: Block
FB: Hard Off-tackle Arc
HB: Hard Off-tackle Arc

     c. The Shit <ID#IIID1c>

Also known as, the only running play you'd use but didn't because you don't like 
running plays. Actually, this is really just the I-form off-tackle run, but 
works much better for some reason. My guess is that for some reason the WR 
blocking style messes the computer up:

WR1: Outside block
WR2: Same
TE: Block
FB: Off-tackle block
HB: Off-tackle sprint

     2. Unbeatable D <ID#IIID2>

Unbeatable D means you stuff your opponent 90% of the time. Stuffing means that 
they gain less than 5 yards per play and are unable to convert on 3rd down 
effectively. Note: Every unbeatable D is from the modified Dime formation (The 
Phoenix.) In addition, every play blitzes with the defensive line and uses the 
outside CBs for man-to-man coverage.

     a. The Zero <ID#IIID2a>

Also known as: The only defensive play you will ever need. Seriously, you will 
be calling this play 90% of the time and kicking yourself you didn't make it 
95%. Despite all football logic that says defensive plays must be strategic, 
unless you are CERTAIN your opponent will run or CERTAIN that your opponent will 
attempt a long pass, then please call this play:

Safeties: Cover 3
Outside CBs: Cover 1
ROLB: Watch QB
Inside CBs: Inside Blitz
Defensive Line: Straight Blitz

It's just that easy ...

     b. The Gritz Blitz <ID#IIID2b>

This is included for historical purposes, but is effective none-the-less. Use if 
you know your opponent is going to Run (Or you need to take out the QB ;)

Safeties: Straight Blitz
Outside CBs: Cover 1
ROLB: Watch QB
Inside CBs: Inside Blitz
Defensive Line: Straight Blitz

     c. The Kitchen Sink <ID#IIID3c>

For completeness, use this if you know they are going to throw a deep pass. IE 
they need to get within field goal range on the next play.

Safeties: Cover Deepest
Outside CBs: Cover 1
ROLB: Drop Zone
Inside CBs: Cover 3
Defensive Line: Straight Blitz

Chapter Four: Drafting Your Team                                        <ID#IV>

The Fantasy Draft could very well be the most important part of creating your 
new team, be sure to get a good one. Don't be afraid to try it over if you don't 
get what you want the first time. You'll only be doing this once, so you need to 
make it count.

     A. General Strategy <ID#IA>

The overall goal of the draft is to get as many top players at their respective 
positions as possible. Always be sure to pick up a #1 person at any given 
position (with the exception of K and P) over a lesser-ranked person in another 
position. In general it is a good idea to redo the draft until you can get 
either Kurt Warner or Marshall Faulk as a first pick. You will want both of 
these players eventually and trading for either of them can be extremely 
difficult. Always be sure to draft your starting lineup before any backups.

     B. Position Importance <ID#IB>

While positions like MLB might be important in real life, this is a football 
game. As such, you need to focus your picks, especially on defense, as you may 
have guessed, MLB is ranked low here because you will primarily be playing out 
of the Dime defense set (which has only one OLB and no MLB) Here is the general 
order you should draft your positions in. It reflects both the importance of 
these positions to your team as well as the order you should pick players in 
order to beat the computer. As a general guide for the first three rounds of 
drafting, simply pick the #1 player that is the highest ranked in this order:

Overall     (cont)                         Offense                      Defense
QB          WR                             QB                           DT
HB          OLB                            HB                           CB
WR          FS                             WR                           CB
OT          G                              OT                           SS
DT          CB                             C                            DT
CB          DE                             G                            DE
C           FB                             OT                           OLB
CB          CB                             WR                           FS
SS          TE                             G                            CB
DT          WR                             FB                           DE
G           MLB                            TE                           CB
OT          WR                             WR                           MLB
DE          MLB                            WR                           MLB

Also be sure to remember that the computer will start picking kickers around the 
18th round or so. While a good K and P are not essential to the success of your 
team, you will need to draft them 19th and 20th to ensure that you get them 
(remember, the computer is not allowed to trade K/P, so you can only get them 
off the draft) Jason Elam and Darren Bennett will do nicely.

     C. Ranking By Position <ID#IC>

(Coming Soon)

     D. Target Players <ID#ID>

Aside from the player rankings, there are a few players that are absolutely 
crucial to the success of your team for various reasons. Not only are they the 
top players at their respective positions, but they also have that certain 
special something that puts them ahead of the pack.

1. Marshall Faulk – A #1 Running Back and a #2 Wide Receiver in one. This guy 
schools the other RB by so much it's not even funny.
2. Kurt Warner – Get this guy. You'll never need another QB
3. Randy Moss – Size, speed and the ability to produce after the catch
4. Orlando Pace – This is the guy guarding Kurt Warner in real life
5. Warren Sapp – Easily the #1 DT in the game and on the field
6. Sam Madison – An interception/touchdown machine! You can count on him to 
shutdown the opposing team's number one receiver every time.
7. Rodney Harrison – #1 at a very important defensive position.
8. Larry Allen – Large and in charge
9. Jevon Kearse – Not as dominant as he was in Madden 2001, but still a QB 
sacking machine.
0. Derrick Brooks – Every good defensive set needs at least one OLB.

     E. Sleepers <ID#IE>

These are the standout players ranked between 80 and 90 at their respective 
positions. Not good enough to be taken 1st round by the computer, these players 
make excellent picks and should still be there later in the draft. In no 
particular order:

Name                  Position  Score  Reason
Daunte Culpepper      QB        89     Can double as a RB, tough
Aaron Brooks          QB        84     Pretty good right now, will improve
Tim Couch             QB        81     Like Brooks but less agile
Shaun Alexander       HB        89     Fast, breaks tackles, will only improve
Priest Holmes         HB        88     Good open field RB
LaDainin Tomlinson    HB        86     Good all around, will improve w/ age
Tiki Barber           HB        82     Another good open field RB
Richie Anderson       FB        87     A good possession FB
Cecil Martin          FB        84     A good blocking FB
Troy Brown            WR        89     Speedy receiver + KR
James Thrash          WR        83     Tough, speedy + KR
Derrick Mason         WR        82     A great WR and a KR as well
Laveranues Coles      WR        80     Max speed, decent KR
Marcus Pollard        TE        87     Good possession TE
Bubba Franks          TE        83     Good blocking TE, as young as they come

Jason Fabini          OT        90     Why is this guy only rated 90?
John Tait             OT        86     Strong, good pass blocker
Randy Thomas          G         87     Good all-around as well as tough
Dave Fiore            G         85     Good, strong guard
Jeff Christy          C         86     Versatile for a center 

Justin Smith          DE        89     Great speed but possible injury risk
Julius Pepper         DE        83     Kearse on a smaller scale
Chris Hovan           DT        90     Deadly fast off the blocks
Gerard Warren         DT        84     Decent now, will get better
Jamie Miller          OLB       89     Decent all-around
Kendrell Bell         MLB       87     Fastest Sleeper MLB

Ronde Barber          CB        89     Interception, TD machine
Deltha O'Neil         CB        85     Feel the need –> for speed
Nate Clements         CB        84     Decent speed, like O'Neil
Darrell Green         CB        80     Extreme speed, but poor all around
Brock Marion          FS        89     Speed + KR potential
Mike Brown            SS        89     Fastest of the strong safeties
Shaun Williams        SS        86     Good against the pass

Martin Gramatica      K         90     Auto-matica, the sentimental favorite
Shane Lechler         P         88     You shouldn't be punting often ...

     F. How The Computer Drafts <ID#IF>

Every computer-controlled coach will draft the player with the highest score 
where the score for a player is: 

Player's Overall Rank + Importance of the Position + Random # between 1 and 10

Here are the rankings the computer assigns to each position. It is unclear 
whether every coach drafts using the same settings, but these are the settings a 
new coach gets by default. I've also included what they should be ranked.

Offense   (c.rank)  (my.rank)                 Defense   (c.rank)  (my.rank)
QB        47        48                        DT        39        40 
HB        43        44                        CB        38        40
WR        42        42                        SS        36        37
OT        40        40                        DE        35        36
C         36        35                        OLB       36        36
G         35        35                        FS        32        34
FB        35        33                        MLB       40        33
TE        30        31                         

Well there you go, everything should be ranked about the same as the computer 
rankings except that I've ranked MLB considerably lower because the defensive 
sets we will most often (Dime and 4-3) include zero or one MLB.

Chapter Five: Balancing Your Roster                                      <ID#V>

At the end of the draft you should have an overall team rank of around 88 if you 
did it well. All of the computer teams will be around 80. Don't worry, after you 
get some trades out there it is going to be well over 95. By the time you finish 
your trades you should have every starting player rated above 80 and every 
important positional player rated above 90. While this is not always possible 
during the first year, it is certainly something to shoot for.

Through careful trading you should be able to pick up five key players as well 
as get rid of all your draft picks. Getting rid of all your draft picks is 
important, since you should expect to win the SuperBowl the first year making 
them worthless for the next season.

For example, in my first year I picked up a #1 HB, WR, OT, FS and CB
(Faulk, Moss, Pace, Dawkins and Madison respectively) 

The key to improving your team is trading away all of your highly rated backups 
to teams that have deficiencies at those positions. If a computer's highest 
rated QB is ranked 65, and your highest rated QB is rated 70 they will often 
give you a huge number of draft picks for yours flat out, even if your backup QB 
would never play on your team. Trade three lower rated draft picks for one 
higher ranked one. Trade high rated draft picks for the players you want – It's 
that simple.

     A. What The Positions Do

Position               Abrev.       Important Stats     
Quarterback            QB           THP,THA,AWR,ACC,AGI,SPD
Halfback               HB           SPD,ACC,BTK,CTH,CAR,AGI
Fullback               FB           SPD,RBK,CTH,CAR,BTK,AWR
Wide Receivers         WR           SPD,CTH,JMP,AWR
Tight End              TE           CTH,RBK,PBK,STR,SPD,AWR
Offensive Line	       OT,G,C       PBK,RBK,STR,AWR

Defensive Line         DE,DT        STR,TAK,AWR,SPD,ACC
Safeties               FS,SS        SPD,AWR,TAK,CTH,ACC
Cornerbacks            CB           SPD,AWR,CTH,JMP,ACC,TAK
Linebackers            OLB,MLB      TAK,SPD,AWR,STR,ACC

Kick/Punters           K,P          KPW,KAC,AWR

     B. What The Stats Mean

Unfortunately, since I have been unable to find an authoritive source for this 
anywhere, I have decided to give my own take on each of the stats and which 
ones are important to which positions:

Overall - Overall player ranking at their position
Importance - Overall player's importance to your team 
Awareness - Overall player performance due to soft skills
Speed - Player's top speed
Acceleration - How quickly the player reaches their top speed
Agility - How quickly the player changes direction, uses evasive moves
Strength - How strong the player Is
Pass Block - How well the player blocks during passing plays
Run Block - How well The player blocks during running plays
Catching - How well the player catches and intercepts throws
Carrying - How well the player holds onto the ball when hit
Jumping - How high the player can jump
Break Tackle - How well the player can evade tackles
Tackle - How well the player tackles
Throw Power - How hard the player can throw the ball
Throw Accuracy - How accurately the player can throw the ball
Kick Power - How hard the player can kick the ball
Kick Accuracy - How accurately the player can kick the ball 
Kick Return - How well the player can catch a kicked ball
Stamina - How long the player can play before tired
Injury - How likely the player is to get injured during a game
Toughness - How short the player will be out if injured 

Stat            Abrev.    Useful For        Crucial For
Overall         OVR       All               All
Importance      IMP       All               QB,HB,WR
Awareness       AWR       All               WR,QB,CB,SS,FS

Speed           SPD       All               CB,WR,HB,FS
Acceleration    ACC       All               HB,CB,DE
Agility         AGI       QB,DT,DE,CB       HB       

Strength        STR       HB,SS,OLB         OT,G,C,DT,MLB
Pass Block      PBK       HB,FB,TE          OT,G,C
Run Block       RBK       HB,TE             OT,G,C,FB

Catching        CTH       SS,FS,HB,OLB      WR,CB,TE,FB
Carrying        CAR       WR,TE,QB          HB,FB
Jumping         JMP       SS,FS,TE,HB       CB,WR
Break Tackle    BTK       WR,TE             HB,FB
Tackle          TAK       All Defense       DT,DE,SS,MLB,OLB

Throw Power     THP       K,P               QB
Throw Accuracy  THA       K,P               QB
Kick Power      KPW       QB                K,P
Kick Accuracy   KAC       QB                K,P
Kick Return     KR        CB,WR             None

Stamina         STA       All               DT
Injury          INJ       All               CB
Toughness       TGH       All               QB,HB

Chapter Six: Taking It To Preseason                                     <ID#VI>

Preseason is a good time to get a feeling for the controls of the game and what 
your players are capable of. Don't be afraid to try things out and take chances; 
just don't get anyone injured for the regular season. This is a good time to 
discover your strengths and weaknesses as well as balance your roster. After the 
first season, pre-season will also help your players to 'grow' their stats. If 
you've already played Madden before, you could always skip this part, and check 
back at the end to see if anyone was injured. Personally, I wouldn't recommend 
this, if you don't play it a key player virtually always gets injured, plus 
there is always a chance you might lose a game.

I have no idea what types of pre-season activity cause which stats to grow, 
however, I would imagine given the quality of the game that it's a fairly 
logical progression. The players get better at what they do, and extra playing 
time helps them to get good at everything. Unfortunately for the first pre-
season, only a few players grow substantially. These are typically the rookie – 
2nd year players. Also, most of the players that grow substantially 
(L.Tomlinson, A.Brooks, S.Alexander) are all well know players, which suggests 
to me that their growth is somewhat programmed in.

If anyone knows what causes certain stats to go up or down, please email me. 

Chapter Seven: Dominating The Regular Season                           <ID#VII>

Above all, it's important to set goals for yourself. Goals that are lofty but 
still realistic. Goals that drive you towards your dream. For example, my 
regular season goals were to win every game. To outscore my opponents by an 
average of 14 points, to generate an offensive player of the week every week 
(except for my bye week) and to get first place in over 66% of all relevant team 
stat categories. Unrealistic goals, which I tried and failed during preseason 
were: Limiting my opponent to 6 points per game, limiting my opponent to 0 TDs 
per game, outscoring my opponent by over 28 points per game, etc. No matter how 
solid your game-play is, there is still a bit of randomness that makes the play 
unpredictable. That one time your cornerback is 10 ft behind Terrell Owens is 
the same time that their QB completes a sweet TD pass to him.

     A. Offense <ID#VIIA>

Producing on offense is absolutely crucial to winning the regular season. 
Personally, I like to put the ball in the air as I have considerable difficulty 
getting any big (20 yard +) gains on the ground. More often than not, when I 
want to move the ball on the ground I pass it to the HB using a flats play. 
Passing is generally preferred to tossing since you can always hold up and pass 
to someone else if you don't like the coverage. The only real running plays that 
I call are either up-the-gut short yardage or the Singleback Halfback Counter 
(for some reason this really messes up the defensive set and if no one reaches 
you in the backfield it's usually good for 10-20 yards with a speedy running 

It's important to get a good mix of run and pass, however, I tend to pass it 
roughly 70% of the time (see above) Whether you should run or pass is primarily 
determined by the down you are on and how far you need to go. The first down is 
always up to you -- so mix it up. Here is a good rule of thumb:

Play                         Down                 To Go
Outside Run                  1                    0 - 10
Up The Gut                   1                    0 - 10
Short Pass                   1                    10
Long Pass                    1                    10+

Outside Run                  2                    0 – 2
Up The Gut                   2                    2 – 5
Long Pass                    2                    5 – 8, 12+
Short Pass                   2                    8 – 12

Up The Gut                   3                    0 – 2
Outside Run                  3                    2 - 4
Short Pass                   3                    4 – 10
Long Pass                    3                    10+

Up The Gut                   4                    0 – 2
Short Pass                   4                    2 – 5
Punt/FG                      4                    5+                         

Once you're comfortably ahead (17+ points) be sure to 'feature' a player so that 
they get player of the week for that week. Also remember that once you are 
comfortably ahead, the computer will expect to cover the run. You can use this 
to your advantage in two ways. One, if you want to run out the clock, just keep 
running it up the middle consistently using a HB lead play. However, I am of the 
opinion that your opponent doesn't need to just be beaten, they need to be 
humiliated. If they call a 4-3 defensive set you should be guaranteed single 
coverage on one of your WR. Take a little time and let it rip. You wouldn't 
believe how many TDs you can score during the final two minutes using this.

     B. Defense <ID#VIIB>

One of the most important points on defense is learning how to call the 
defensive set. This is primarily based on whether you expect the offense to run 
or pass. Here is a guide:

% Chance Opp. Will Pass               % Time           Defensive Set
0 – 5                                 5%               Goal Line
5 – 35                                30%              4-3
35 – 45                               10%              Nickel
45 – 95                               50%              Dime
95 – 100                              5%               Quarter

Well there you go, 50% of the time you should be using the Dime set, so plan 
your team accordingly and be sure to stock up on CB during the draft. You should 
NEVER use the 3-4! This is a terrible defensive set and you will be burned 
consistently for either short yardage up the middle or a big gain from your 
opponent's wide receivers down the side. You can use the 46 to mix things up but 
I would use it sparingly.

The reason I pick Dime so often is because 90% of the time an opponent actually 
scores on me it is because of a big passing play (remember, this is madden so 
runs over 20 yards are unusual) If you stick to Dime you should limit your 
opponent to short yardage, punts and field goals. Also remember that the more an 
opponent is down by, the more likely they are to put it in the air.

     C. Special Teams <ID#VIIC>

When kicking the ball off, be sure to aim for a spot touching your opponent's 
front end-zone and about five yards in from either the left or right side of the 
field. Jason Elam can make this kick consistently and the computer will usually 
try to run the ball out. Next, take control of the closest CB and run him 
diagonally towards the center of the field. This will cause the kick returner to 
run full speed into about 4 of your guys. With any luck you should be able to 
force a fumble or injury. At the very least you should stop him somewhere 
between the 15 and the 20 every time.

Never kick field goals when you are further than 50 yards back or closer than 10 
yards in. Unless you really want the Madden points and the wind is blowing your 
direction, 50+ yard field goals are really unusual, it's better to punt it away. 
Likewise, you might as well go for it if you are within 10 yards. Try the I-Form 
flats play and hit your HB right as he's crossing into the end-zone. At worst 
you'll have incredible field position on your opponent and a chance for a safety 
(If your opponent will pass out of the end-zone, pick the Dime: Zero Blitz. If 
your opponent is likely running, choose the Goal Line: Gaps Fire)

Chapter Eight: Winning The Playoffs                                   <ID#VIII>

Winning the playoffs is much like winning the regular season, however, you need 
to adjust your stategy a bit because 
1. Only the best teams get to the playoffs
2. The computer AI steps it up a notch during the playoffs and SuperBowl

Basically what this means is that you have to start playing a little more 
conservatively. Focus more on winning the game rather than blowing out the stats 
sheet. You should expect to punt at least once during the playoffs and 
SuperBowl. Also, I would estimate that the difficulty is one step higher during 
the playoffs, which means you should expect all the really ridiculous stuff you 
see happen during the regular season in All-Madden mode to happen during the 
playoffs in All-Pro mode. Not that you can do anything about it, just don't get 
frustrated when you see your opponent's QB somehow connecting with a receiver 
that's facing triple coverage (I swear if the ball phases through my defender on 
more time.)

Chapter Nine: Doing It All Again Next Year                              <ID#IX>

Right now I don't have any specific strategies for you besides what I told you 
for the first year. The first year should be the toughest, anything after that 
is gravy. Just keep filling out your defense (your offense should already be 
unstoppable right now) For my second year I have my sights set on another #1 CB, 
a #1 DT, a #1 DE and a #1 TE (Woodson, Sapp, Kearse and Gonzalez respectively)  

Chapter Ten: The Boston Phoenix                                          <ID#X>

This section is all about my team, The Boston Phoenix. Hopefully the Boston 
Phoenix will have a great season once I get my PS2 online. I'd love to do a 
fantasy draft/league with the full 32 people playing. Also, if anyone knows of 
an NFL team in a bad division that would sell for less than $100 million write 
me an email, I'd love to do this for real and bring the team to Boston ;)

     A. My Draft

I feel I did a pretty good job in my draft, I've seen a lot of them and it looks 
like I got about what I expected. My only bad pick was probably picking a center 
as my 4th pick, the rest were fine.

My Draft
K.Warner         M.Rivera         M.Jones          J.Allen          J.Tuman
L.Allen          B.Brokermeyer    W.Rainer         C.Batch          J.Pyne
B.Young          S.Adams          R.Proehl         T.Mathis         S.Dotson
M.Birk           B.Mitchell       A.Zereoue        C.Watson         J.Holmes
M.McKenzie       D.Carswell       W.Jackson        G.DiNapoli       J.Harris
L.Schulters      B.Schroeder      D.Davis          T.Jackson        T.Morabito
A.Winfield       R.Wilson         S.Matthews       M.Lane          
S.Williams       J.Ritchie        B.Gardner        C.Sanders          
D.Green          J.Elam           T.Fair           L.Moore          
D.Mason          D.Bennett        L.Atkins         J.DeVries          

After the draft my overall team ranking was 86. I decided that I needed to make 
a few key trades, trading away players and draft picks for:

Marshall Faulk
Randy Moss
Orlando Pace
Sam Madison
Brian Dawkins

     B. 1st year starters

Name            Position   O.Rank             Name            Position   O.Rank
K.Warner        QB         97                 B.Wilson        LE         77
M.Faulk         HB         99                 B.Mitchell      RE         75
D.Bennett       FB         75                 B.Young         DT         95
R.Moss          WR         98                 S.Adams         DT         81
D.Mason         WR         82                 J.Nelson        LOLB       59
D.Patten        WR         77                 B.Gardner       MLB        71
D.Carswell      TE         80                 J.Armstead      ROLB       86
O.Pace          LT         98                 S.Madison       CB         98
S.Hutchison     LG         82                 A.Winfield      CB         84
M.Birk          C          93                 D.Green         CB         81
D.Neil          RG         95                 B.Dawkins       FS         98
B.Brock         RT         79                 V.Green         SS         84
                                               J.Elam         K          95
                                               D.Bennett      P          95          

Overall  95         Offense  99         Defense  95         Special Teams  99

It looks like a good start for my team.

Chapter Eleven: Madden-isms                                             <ID#XI>

Eventually this will probably turn into a generic Madden Humor section, but for 
right now, here are some classic Madden setup lines (Note: All of these are 
actual dialog I have heard in the game)

I'm Listening -

Summerall:   With the clock winding down, it looks like the kick team is going  
to come on to the field.
Madden:      Yeah, there's nothing left here but to kick it away and start the 
second half.
Madden:      Touchdown!           
Summerall:   It looks like the defense was expecting something completely 
different on that play.
Madden:      Yes, the defense is going to have to do a better job of play 
recognition than that, nothing makes you look worse than being 
caught out of position.

Two Liners –

Summerall:   I can safely say that I don't we'll be seeing any blitzes from 
the defense from here on out.
Summerall:   And he reaches the Quarterback and hauls him down!

[3rd and goal]
Madden:      They don't have to run any type of a play here.
Summerall:   So he takes the handoff and crosses the Goal Line.

- Conclusion -

Have fun with Madden 2003!

                                                  Copyright 2002 Matt Sontum

If you want to reproduce this document as a whole or in part in any form you 
must first beat me in a game of Madden.

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