Like the NFL, Madden is a passing league, but if you know how to use Madden 21's pass rush moves, you can swing the game in your favor.

Madden 21 Guide: Mastering the Pass Rush Moves

Like the NFL, Madden is a passing league, but if you know how to use Madden 21's pass rush moves, you can swing the game in your favor.

Of all the new features in Madden 21, the biggest on-field update comes in the trenches. With a full suite of new pass rush moves, players have the opportunity to cause mayhem like never before — for opposing quarterbacks and the offensive linemen who are meant to protect them.

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If you’re looking to improve your pass rush game with more sacks, hurries, and better containment of superstars like Lamar Jackson, use our guide on how to rush the passer in Madden 21.

How to Rush the Passer in Madden 21

There is a depth to this year’s pass rush moves that we simply haven’t seen in Madden before, and that’s great because it’s quickly apparent that defensive linemen and EDGE rushers are now more important than ever, mirroring their vital roles in the pass-heavy NFL of real life.

To effectively rush the passer you need two things

  1. An understanding of your controls
  2. A familiarity with your players

Let’s start with the controls. Below you’ll find the full controller map for a pass rusher straight from the game. 

Madden 21 controls menu showing an Xbox One controller and the game's pass rush moves.

If you prefer reading the controls in plain text, we’ve got that too, for both Xbox and PlayStation players.

  • Contain: LT/L2
  • Speed Rush: RT/R2
  • Swat: Y/Triangle
  • Switch Player: B/Circle
  • Rip: Right Stick Up
  • Club/Swim: Right Stick Left/Right
  • Bull Rush: Right Stick Down

When to Use Each of the Pass Rush Moves

Mastering the controls is a start, but you’ll only excel if you know what you’re doing with all these fancy new buttons. To really master the pass rush, you’ll want to know what kind of player you’re using and what they’re good at.

In each players’ ratings, you’ll find a few key stats for pass rushers. These include finesse moves, power moves, pursuit, and block shedding. Strength, awareness, and play recognition are also helpful and collectively, finding players who excel in these areas will ensure you have a star player at your fingertips.

Finesse Moves

Finesse moves are used by speed rushers like Joey Bosa and Demarcus Lawrence and are best equipped for moves such as the speed rush and the swim because they’re able to put linemen on a turnstile and collapse the edge of the pocket in a flash.

Power Moves

Power moves are things like the bull rush and club and are best used by the league’s strongest pass rushers, like Myles Garrett and Aaron Donald. Admittedly, Donald is amazing at all moves given that he’s one of the league’s all-time great players, but he’s best known for his power.

With power rushers, you’ll leave offensive linemen feeling weak at maybe toppling over as you hurry the QB into bad decisions and throw-aways.

The Rip Move

The rip is a move that all pass rushers are suited for, as it allows you to throw linemen off of you and reset the engagement. By combining different moves throughout a game, you’ll keep blockers guessing at worst and looking foolish at best. 

The Swat Move

A swat is a manner by which defenders can jump in the air and try to time a deflection of a pass just as it leaves the quarterback’s grasp. If you aren’t getting to the QB quickly enough but still want to disrupt the passing attack, try timing your swats with the QB’s throws.

A well-timed leap will have the pass sail only a few feet before it collides with your hands or arms and plopping on the ground. Sometimes a swat can even lead to an interception, either immediately or off a deflection.

Playing Contain

Contain is for a different kind of situation. Think of it like a bouncer at a night club. Whereas usually, the pass rush demands you try and penetrate the pocket quickly and cause panic for the QB and his blockers, a defender playing contain starts the play, but does not engage the linemen.

Instead, you’ll want to stand at the corners of the pocket and keep the play from bouncing outside.

If a team loves running sweeps or outside zones, or if the QB is known to bootleg or scramble, the contain move is one of the best ways to ensure these sorts of plays don’t break your spirit.

The Pass Rush is About Timing

Ultimately, the pass rush is about timing. Just as you want to time your pursuit of an attempted blocked field goal by getting off the snap of the ball immediately, you want to play the rush the same way.

As soon as the ball is snapped, use the right pass rush move for your situation. If it’s successful, the on-screen UI will tell you so with green text. You’ll also probably know because you’re breathing down the quarterback’s neck.

These days, the NFL, and thus Madden, is a QB’s dream, but if you know how to rush the passer in Madden 21, you can use these pass rush moves to make the field a waking nightmare. Be sure to check out our other guides for the latest game in the franchise, which include tips on how to run the ball, how to slide, and how to play lights-out defense. 

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Mark Delaney
Mark is a dad, husband, bicyclist, animal rights activist, and a gamer, of course. You can find him on all platforms covering co-op, indies, horror, battle royale, or whatever else he's obsessing over right now. In addition to GameSkinny, he's been published on GameSpot, IGN, GamesRadar, EGM, Escapist, Official Xbox Magazine, and a bunch of other great outlets.