The 2020 NFL season is fast approaching, and that means it’s time to get back to the virtual gridiron as well with Electronic Arts’ latest Madden title. Aside from the upcoming console version, EA (Real Racing, The Sims, NBA Live, etc.) has released a mobile companion app called Madden NFL 21 Mobile, and much like this game has done in the past, it allows you to enjoy realistic NFL action from your iOS or Android device as you build up your Ultimate Team by opening player packs and winning tons of other rewards as you complete more challenges and win more Overdrive games. As usual, all 32 NFL teams are represented, with real-life players from the current lineups, as well as quite a few legends of the game, usually depending on whether there’s a special event or not.
In our Madden NFL 21 Mobile beginner’s guide, we centered mainly on the basics of the Madden NFL Mobile experience and the very first few things you needed to know about Overdrive and Masters Series, which, as we said, are the two modes you will likely be playing the most. But there are several other game modes that we have yet to cover, and that includes the newly introduced The Yard, which offers a more casual football experience with 5-on-5 action, an immersive story, and your own customizable player that you can upgrade and improve over time.
In this Madden NFL 21 Mobile strategy guide, we shall be focusing heavily on The Yard, as well as Season Mode, though we’ve also got information on some of the game’s other features and mechanics that you may find useful after you’ve gotten your feet wet with some Overdrive games and Masters Series drills.
1. An Overview Of The Yard – 5 On 5 Football, Simpler Rules, Trick Plays
As we specified in the first guide, The Yard is the biggest addition to Madden NFL Mobile this year, a new game mode that is also debuting on the console version. In a way, it’s this year’s equivalent of MyCareer in the NBA 2K series, only here, you’re not creating your own player and trying to make your way up the ranks as a rookie professional against actual NFL players. In fact, NFL rules do not apply in this mode.
You’ll still be creating a player avatar that represents your character and you’ll still be able to earn currency that would allow you to customize that avatar as well as skill points to improve your attributes, but instead of 11-on-11 action, The Yard is all about 5-on-5 street football.
The very first step in The Yard is to configure your character’s appearance. By tapping on the Customize tab on the mode’s main menu, you will be directed to a screen where you can choose your first and last name, your uniform number, as well as animations, your facial appearance and hairdo, your height and weight, and finally, your physical dimensions. Bear in mind that you can change this information at any time — this is in contrast to other modes of this kind where you can no longer make any changes to a character’s appearance or attributes after you’ve created them.
Similar to the modes from other games that we mentioned above, The Yard features an in-depth story where you will be conversing with several NPCs — all of these characters are fictional and were created solely for purposes of the all-new mode. Although it’s a good idea to pay attention to the story, you should also read on intently when these NPCs walk you through on different elements of the game and how 5-on-5 football differs from the conventional 11-on-11 setup that you may be far more familiar with.
So how does 5-on-5 football differ from its 11-on-11 cousin? Naturally, there are five players for each side — offense and defense — and no linemen on either side of the ball. The five offensive positions are Quarterback (your player, by default), Running Back, Wide Receiver (of which there are two), and Tight End, and while it may appear at first that this is an offense-centric mode a la Overdrive, you will actually have to play both offense and defense. There is also no game clock or play clock involved and no quarters — instead, it’s a battle to be the first to score a certain number of points.
Instead of having to gain 10 yards for a first down, you’ll need to gain a whopping 25 yards before your downs are reset. There is also no option to punt the ball or kick a field goal in the fourth down, so that, and not the third down, would be the big-play, do-or-die down where you would be under the most pressure to score, or at least get a new set of downs.
Touchdowns will still give you six points, although instead of the usual point after touchdown (PAT) field goal attempt from 15 yards or option to try for a two-point conversion from the opponent’s two-yard line, you can earn one or two additional points by scoring a touchdown from the opponent’s 5 or 10-yard line respectively.
Another key feature of The Yard is the ability to perform trick plays, such as the double pass, where you will have to pass to a receiver on the left, then pass the ball to another open teammate by tapping on their corresponding letter like you normally would. The lateral would require you to hit the button of the same name after completing a pass to a teammate — you will need to tap on Lateral before reaching the specified zone in order for the play to be successful! Yes, these may sound tricky, no pun intended, but the first chapter of The Yard comes with drills that allow you to practice these unusual plays before using them in actual games.
By default, you have 10 Energy points to consume in The Yard that automatically refill over time — playing one drill or game would cost you one Energy each, though NPC conversations, of course, are absolutely free. You can also replay previously completed drills or games for additional rewards, much like you can in Masters Series and other modes!
What type of rewards can you earn? Depending on the drill or game, these may include any, some, or all of the following — XP, Cred (your currency for buying gear items), Madden Gems, and Avatar Skill Points, the latter of which are used to upgrade your character. And as we discussed last time, earning REP by completing various daily and weekly goals in general can help you level up your player in The Yard.
With that overview out of the way, let’s talk about how you can win more games in The Yard.
2. Basic Tips For Winning More Games In The Yard
Unlike in other game modes, you won’t be presented with various types of plays (Run, Pass, etc.) or a long list of individuals plays to choose from. Instead, the game will recommend a specific play, which will appear at the bottom of the screen, and your first instinct may be to look at the diagram and figure out whether it’s a running play, a passing play, or a trick play. However, keep in mind that there is no game clock — you don’t have to accept that play right away.
Instead, you can tap on the Play Call button on the right side of the screen and choose which of the three plays you wish to call, may it be on offense or on defense. You’ll still need to look at the diagram and see which way each player is supposed to go (and supposed to do) in order to execute it properly, though! You don’t want to be preparing for a pass when you’re actually calling a play for your running back, or vice versa.
Stay frosty in the fourth down. We cannot stress this enough, but as we mentioned in the mode’s overview, the fourth down, and not the third, is your do-or-die down because you no longer have a choice of kicking, punting, or calling a regular offensive play (if you’re willing to gamble) on the fourth. We’re not sure if there’s any hidden stat that improves a My Yard player’s ability to deliver in the clutch, but the AI opponents are oftentimes on point when calling plays in this crucial down, so it would behoove you to relax and make sure you’re calling the right play and passing the ball (if you choose to the pass) to someone who isn’t tightly covered.
Remember how many points you need to score to win the game and relate that to your current score. For example, if the goal is to be the first to score 15 points, you don’t want to be in a situation where you’ve got 14 points and your opponent has between 7 and 13, because they could easily steal the game from you if you’re not careful on defense. That only adds unnecessary pressure, so choose wisely between one- or two-point conversions after touchdowns.
Using another example, we won the final game in the first chapter of The Yard (first to 22 points) by going for two-point conversions after touchdown and succeeding on both — that gave us 16 points, which meant all we had to do was score a third touchdown to win the game. (Which we did.) Conversely, it wouldn’t be such a good idea to go for one-point conversions — even if successful, that would have resulted in 14 points, thus putting the pressure to score on a two-point conversion after the third TD.
When playing defense, hitting the Switch button to take control of the player nearest to the ball can be absolutely vital in preventing your opponents from gaining some yards or worse, scoring. Sadly, your AI teammates on defense will oftentimes be lacking in competence as they fail to sack the quarterback or easily get shaken off by offensive players when they go for the tackle. The onus will mainly be on you to make the big stops on defense, so make good use of the defensive fundamentals you may have learned or honed while playing the other game modes in Madden NFL 21 Mobile (or its predecessors).
3. Play Season Mode For More Rewards And A Chance To Play As Any NFL Team
Aside from building your own Overdrive team from scratch and turning it into a dominant force by acquiring new players through packs, Masters Series challenges, and other methods, you still have the option to play as any of the NFL’s 32 teams with (mostly) updated lineups, and that option is available in Season Mode.
At first, you will have two options — 2020 NFL Season, which is based on the upcoming season’s real-life schedule with full management decisions (trades, free-agent signings, etc.) and 90-second quarters, and Classic, which does not feature any management decisions, comes with a random schedule, and has longer, more realistic games (in relation to real-life NFL stats) with three-minute quarters. Both options require you to play a full 16-game schedule, and completing either option will unlock another two, namely Full and Short — these only differ in terms of quarter length (90 seconds versus 45 seconds) and all come with 16-game schedules, random opponents, and full management decisions.
When choosing a team, we would recommend starting with a real-life contender if you’re a beginner — the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes, the Baltimore Ravens with Madden NFL 21 cover athlete Lamar Jackson, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with former Patriots superstars Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are all good choices. That said, the game will give you an option to use the actual roster or that of your Ultimate Team (i.e. your Overdrive roster), and show you an overview of your rewards for winning regular-season and playoff games alike.
For regular season wins, for instance, you get 500 coins, 100 TP, 100 XP, and one Random Component and NFL Memory Collectible each. The rewards, however, will definitely improve when it comes to playoff wins, and especially Super Bowl victories!
Regarding the gameplay in Season Mode, we would suggest starting out with Classic if you’re playing it for the first time — that way, you can simply focus on the play calling and roster management but not have to worry about trade dilemmas or other management decisions. Make sure to visit the Team menu regularly and hit the Best Lineup button on the upper right to ensure you’re up to date.
The usual advice — avoid careless passes, stay cool in the third down, choose the AI’s suggested plays when in doubt — would apply on offense, but in here, you’ll also be responsible for controlling the defense. Use the Switch button regularly to toggle to the player closest to the ball — no matter how highly rated your other defensive players are, there’s always the possibility that the game’s simplistic AI will make them rather useless! Use the Strafe button while moving the joystick left or right to outmaneuver offensive linemen. But if you need more tips, keep on reading for more advanced techniques you can use in Season Mode and any other mode where offense, defense, and special teams are all involved.
4. Special Teams – How To Kick Field Goals, Attempt Punts / Kickoffs, And Return The Ball
You may not have had to kick too many field goals in Overdrive, where the biggest points are earned by scoring touchdowns, getting first downs, and making big passes. But in Season Mode, knowing how to kick field goals and points after touchdown — as well as punting the ball — will become much more important, especially if that’s your best option. Real-life NFL coaches almost always go to their special teams in the fourth down, and that is something you should be prepared to do in Madden NFL 21 Mobile as well.
For field goals and PAT attempts, you will notice the three colored arrows pointing toward the area between the goal posts — you may also observe that they aren’t exactly aligned and that there’s a good chance your kick attempt may go wide left or right. But you can adjust those arrows by moving the joystick left or right — align it as closely as possible to the area in the middle of both goals, then swipe upward on the upside-down triangle on the right side — this would control your power, with red indicating a weak attempt, yellow indicating solid, but unspectacular kicking power, and green showing that you’re using optimum power when attempting the kick. This is important — swipe upward quickly and assertively if you want to kick the ball with optimum power!
It’ll be a combination of accuracy (on the left) and power (on the right), so keep that in mind when attempting field goals. As PATs are attempted just 15 yards away from the opponent’s end zone, you wouldn’t need that much power. But you’re going to need to make sure the indicator on the right is green if you’re attempting a field goal from about 40 yards away or greater.
The same principles apply when it comes to kickoffs and punts, except for power being more important in order to deny your opponent good field position. As for returning punts and kickoffs, there really isn’t much to that either — if you see there’s enough space to make a good run, maintain your position, catch the kickoff/punt, then run as far as you could. Otherwise, if you see that the defense is closing in fast on you, hit the Fair Catch button. That will prevent the defense from tackling your returner — they’re required to, once the returner waves his hand to signal a fair catch — and start your offense off from the point of the catch.
5. More Advanced Tips For Winning Games Outside of Overdrive
Before anything else, let us remind you that “outside of Overdrive” wouldn’t just refer to Season Mode, but also to certain Masters Series and special event drills where you are required to play offense, defense, and special teams.
Clock usage is paramount when it comes to full games in Madden NFL Mobile 21, especially in Season Mode. Keep an eye on the game clock, as it could keep on running while you’re choosing plays — while you will often have the luxury of time and a full 45 seconds to choose a play without the game clock changing, other times you won’t! Of course, you’ll need that clock to be live when it’s late in the game and you’re trying to preserve a slim lead — in which case, that’s where the QB Kneel would come in handy.
But clock optimization is also important in the final minute or so of the first half — you want to call plays and manage the clock in such a way that you can complete a drive if the opponent will be kicking off at the start of the second half. Failing to complete such a drive in such a situation could turn the tide in favor of your opponent, though if you’re somehow able to prevent your opponent from reaching your end of the field before the first-half buzzer sounds and you’re kicking off to start off the second, the momentum will conversely be on your side.
First down is typically a good time to call a passing play, though you can also turn to your running game if you want to play it safe. After that, you’ll need to take note of how many yards you need to gain before getting a first down when determining whether to pass the ball or run it. For example, if you’re at 2nd-and-9, you’ll typically want to pass, but if you’re at 2nd-and-5 or closer, a running play will likely give you another first down — if you get bottled up early on, you can at least call another rushing play to gain a few yards and turn a third down into a first.
For those and-long situations, e.g. 3rd-and-10 or farther, that’s when you’ll need to bust out a long pass. Of course, whenever you’re calling a passing play, you need to keep an eye out for the defense and act especially quick if they’re trying to blitz you!
Lastly, when dropping back to pass, try your best not to move back too far, even if you notice that the opposing defense has called a blitz. It’s okay to lose about five to eight yards after getting sacked, but anything greater than 10 yards can be quite deflating and quite hard to overcome. Remember that your quarterback’s accuracy — regardless of their ability — typically decreases as the passes get longer. There’s also the ability of your receivers you’ll need to consider, as well as the possibility that defenders can push them aside or bat the ball away to prevent the completion.
6. Collect Your Daily Rewards To Earn More Cash And Improve Your Team
While most players may be focused on card packs and Overdrive wins and other ways to improve one’s roster, daily rewards can be quite helpful when it comes to improving your Ultimate Team for Overdrive (and Season Mode, if you choose) and they can also help you add to your Madden Cash reserves. Madden Cash can be used to purchase packs in the in-game store, though you’ll probably want to earn more of this premium currency over time and save it up if you’re looking to buy those packs that contain those elusive 75+ players and better.
If you want an idea of what you can earn through those daily logins — currently, the Warmup Calendar includes one reward per day you login, and it doesn’t have to be consecutive — you can win Madden Cash on odd-numbered days, ranging from 50 on Day 1 to 200 on Day 7. As for the players, your Day 2, Day 4, and Day 6 rewards are three 75-rated players — respectively, these are Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Chicago Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Los Angeles Chargers center Mike Pouncey. It may not sound like much at the end of the day, but it’s certainly going to make your Ultimate Team better and add to your premium currency stash in one way or another.
7. The Basics Of The Coaching Menu And Scheme Bonuses
In our beginner’s guide, we briefly touched on the Coaching menu, which you can access by tapping on the Team button on the right side of the main screen, then tapping on your coach’s icon on the bottom of the Manage Lineup screen. Before you do that, you will see a bar that shows you how many players align to your current scheme — this determines your Scheme Bonus, which could improve your Ultimate Team’s Power and give you Scoring Bonuses in Overdrive, depending on how many players match the scheme.
For example, if you have five players that match the Spread scheme, that’ll give you 10 additional Scoring Bonus points and add 36 to your Team Power. Only offensive players have a matching scheme, which you can find on their cards on the middle right area.
Once you tap on your coach’s avatar, you will be taken to the Select Coach screen, where you will see that there are 13 coaches to choose from — that’s three each for Vertical (blue), West Coast (purple), Smashmouth (green), and four for Spread (orange). We’re guessing Spread has four choices because John Harbaugh of the Ravens is the featured coach. Unlike previous editions of Madden NFL Mobile, it appears that the game’s namesake, Hall of Fame coach John Madden, is not among the available choices, so that’s something interesting to note.
When choosing a coach, it will mainly depend on your preferred play style, though you should also keep those Scheme Bonuses in mind and manually fine-tune your offense to make sure you have as many matching players — and good ones — as possible. Spread, as we explained last time, puts a premium on creating mismatches through the presence of a mobile quarterback. Vertical emphasizes a mix of deep and mid-range passing out of a Shotgun formation. West Coast is all about short passes, mainly to running backs and right ends, in order to force the defense to platy wider and set up longer passes. Lastly, Smashmouth is a run-heavy offense with a lot of power running and physical blocking from your tight ends, fullbacks, and even your wide receivers.
In this version of Madden NFL Mobile, it’s possible to choose a scheme that’s different from the one your preferred coach uses, though it’s best if they both match each other — changing schemes affects Scheme Bonuses but not your coaches’ playbooks!
8. Sell Your Unneeded Players For Coins At The Item Exchange
At some point, you’re going to have a decent enough roster in terms of Power and OVR, but those weaker players you started out with will still be on your bench, gathering proverbial dust as you won’t be using them anyway in almost every situation. So what can you do to get rid of these players and maybe get something out of them in return?
Simply tap on the menu button on the upper left corner of the main screen, then tap on the Item Exchange button — once there, you will see all your players on the bottom part of the screen. Look for those players with particularly low ratings — at this point, you should normally be looking for players with a 62-65 rating or lower — and if you see they don’t have a specific scheme attached to them, all the better. That means they won’t count toward the scheme bonuses we discussed above, thus making them easy to sacrifice.
If you see a player you deem expendable, drag-and-drop them toward the specified area, or tap on their cards. You can do this for as many players as you wish, and once you’ve singled out all the players you’re willing to sacrifice, hit the Exchange button. You’re going to get coins in return for these players, with higher-rated players, of course, worth more coins than the lower-rated ones. This is a great way to add to your common currency if you’re running short, so visit this option whenever you’ve got too many players who, how shall we say it, aren’t sparking as much joy for you as they used to, if at all.