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Madden NFL 21 Gridiron Notes: Madden NFL 21 The Yard Deep Dive.

2980 posts Game Changer
edited August 20
Hey Madden fans, welcome to a surprise edition of Gridiron Notes! We know many of you have been keeping track of when the next Gridiron Notes is releasing and today wasn’t on your calendar.

Before we begin though, we wanted to give you a quick refresh on what Gridiron Notes is. Gridiron Notes is a series of blogs where we keep you informed about the latest EA SPORTS Madden NFL 21 news. Where we deliver information such as deep dives on features coming to Madden NFL 21, Title Update notes, Ultimate Team, and more.

Today developer JP Kellams will be sharing with you everything you need to know about The Yard in Madden NFL 21. Let’s get to it!


Hi, I'm JP Kellams (@synaesthesiaJP). It's great to be back writing a Gridiron Note this year, and it is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to the newest way to play Madden, The Yard in Madden NFL 21.




Our first experiences with football are usually in the backyard. The playground is also home to many of the fondest of football memories; where end zones are the end of a parking lot or a treeline and Mississippi isn’t just a place, but a rule. These feelings, and the fun they represent, live on past the backyard in flag football, 7-on-7 drills, and improvisation of downtime during practice.

The Yard is built to make that feeling a reality in Madden. Where you can pick up a ball, be anyone, line up anywhere, and play both sides of the ball. The rules and goals may change depending on where you play, but the game is always the same – how can you keep the play going and create amazing moments.

Best of all, your Avatar is at the center of the experience, and how you express yourself is everything. That is what drove us to build this experience. We wanted to give you a place in Madden where you were at the center of it all: how you look, how you progress, and how you play.


So how do we translate the gameplay of the backyard into Madden NFL 21? Let’s go over some of the unique rules you will find in The Yard. The first thing you will notice is the field. It is 80 yards by 40 yards. Like flag football, first downs are granted by passing the 20-yard markers.

Double Passes – When you are behind the line of scrimmage in The Yard, all passes are legal, as many times as you want. We call this Double Pass, and you will notice that the receiver icons are always on in The Yard.

Once you are past the line of scrimmage, you can pass behind you as often as you’d like. We’ve even added in a “one-timer” mechanic that allows you to bat a ball in the air to another receiver. While the ball is in the air, hold LT or L2 and press any receiver button.


Laterals – The play never ends once you master laterals. By pressing LB or L1, you can lateral as often as you would like in The Yard. These have special trajectories and animations that keep the play going, and you can even lateral out of a tackle. However, don’t get too greedy as laterals have high risk (and high reward) in The Yard.


Pass Rush Timer/Pass Timer – If you’ve ever counted Mississippi in a backyard game, you get this one. Each unique location will have a timer that dictates when the defense can pass rush, but also a Pass Timer that shows how much time you have to throw if you have not been rushed.

Our standard is a one second pass rush, and a four second Pass Timer. If you try to blitz too early, you will run into a barrier wall that will stop your forward momentum; if the QB holds on to the ball too long without passing, the play will be whistled dead.

Finally, if you are blitzed, the timer goes away and you are free to scramble past the line of scrimmage, but you can’t rush until the defense comes after you.


Multi-Snap – Another tool you have in your arsenal is the ability to snap to any player on the field. This is called Multi-Snap. Just use LT or L2 to bring up the prompt and press the button icon for any player on the field to snap to that player. Otherwise, you will snap as normal to your QB. Be careful though, if you snap to a receiver lined up on the line of scrimmage against a DB, you won’t have much time to drop back.

Combined with new Madden NFL 21 mechanics like the Ball Carrier Skill Stick and DB Lock-On, you can see how you now have the tools to create moments like never-before. But just to make sure that you don’t miss them, we’ve created a vast number of unique, custom animations for The Yard, like behind-the-back passes and between the legs catches, that will make sure every game will be something to remember.




The Yard has a special scoring system that rewards the type of creative play-making that makes the game special.

Touchdowns are worth the traditional six points, but...

Score a touchdown with a double pass or lateral – two bonus points

Score a touchdown longer than 40 yards – one bonus point

Interceptions earn you one bonus point.

Extra Points are up to you. You can choose to try one, two, or three-point conversions that get progressively further away from the goal line and kicking is never an option.


What does that mean in the context of the game? Well, if you got an interception behind mid-field, did a couple of sweet laterals, and went for a three-point conversion, you’ve just scored yourself 13 points on a single play plus the conversion.


If you end up in overtime, we use a modified college OT system. Each team gets a drive. After three drives, each team gets single plays to score until there is a touchdown and a winner.



In The Yard, it isn’t about what play you start with, it is about what play you create. That’s why we’ve created a single playbook for all teams. You will have a limited number of custom designed plays on both offense and defense.

The goal here is to encourage you to create your own moments on the field by using the tools at your disposal to trick your opponent and share the ball early and often.

Direct snap to your HB, lateral to your QB who throws a deep bomb to a streaking receiver. After the catch, he tosses back to a trailing receiver who uses ball carrier moves to evade the defense and score a multi-bonus point touchdown. It’s that easy… And that fun.

Like Superstar KO, The Yard is drive-based. Our “standard” rules are each team gets three drives. So each possession matters, and what you make of it will determine who wins and who goes home on the wrong side of a poster.


So now you know how to play the Yard, but how do you want to play The Yard? That is where prototypes come in. Prototypes are based on NFL stars past and present, and they are models for your play style in The Yard. You’ll start off with a couple of prototypes per position in The Yard.

Positions, you say? Yes. Positions. But not how you normally think of them. The Yard is ironman football, meaning you play both sides of the ball. And since not everyone can be quarterback, at the beginning of the game, you will select where you are going to line up on the field.



This position will inform how you want to play, but it doesn’t mean you have to play that way. You could choose to line up at QB, but pick a WR-based prototype, while your best friend lines up on the outside with your QB. Then you would focus on behind-the-line passes, or multi-snaps, passes to your actual QB to kick off the play.


There are three main components to your Prototype’s loadout: X-Factor, Abilities, and Skill Points. Each prototype comes with a unique X-Factor that you cannot change.

These X-Factors have unlocks in The Yard that are different than standard Madden and are more directly related to overall performance on the field than the specific unlocks you’d see in other modes. Just pull up the Coach Cam to see your specific progress towards activating your X-Factor.

Next up are Abilities. We grant you a few to start, but you’ll unlock more by leveling up the Prototypes in your binder, or by playing Face of the Franchise: Rise to Fame. Each Prototype can slot two Superstar Abilities of your choice.

Then there are Skill Points. Skill Points are earned by leveling up the Prototype you are currently using. You can use these Skill Points to accentuate specific traits of your Prototype. Finally, you may have noticed the modifiers section. These denote intrinsic traits of your Prototype.

A green up arrow means they have maxed skills in that area, but if the arrow is down and red, you shouldn’t expect much in that skill. The height and weight also dictate how big you will be on the field.

But don’t worry, if you choose to make a 7-ft, 300 lb. behemoth of a create-a-player, we will make sure he takes up half the screen in all of the menus. Finally, depending on the event, your teammates will be filled out automatically, or you will have the chance to pick them for your team yourself.



Once your position and Prototype are set, you will see your team. In most games against the CPU, we will draft a team of NFL Superstars to join you. They will be randomly picked from the players assigned to that location. Each location in the World Tour will have different players that you can play with and against (we will get to that in a bit).

The Yard also supports Squads play. That means one to three players can join up and create a team in The Yard. However, unlike a standard 11v11 NFL rules game, we have created special rules for the 6v6 environment.


See the players standing next to your Avatar? Those are the players that you will be able to control in the game. When you are playing by yourself, you will be able to switch to any player on the field.

They are your squad. In a duos game, each of you will control your own Avatar as well as two NFL stars. In a trios game, you will each control one other NFL star.

In game, you will always start on your Avatar, and your partner players will have a color indicator corresponding to your squads player color that appears under your partner players. If any of your players become the ball carrier, we will automatically switch you to them.


Finally, in certain events, you will get to draft your own teammates. This will happen after all the human players in an event have picked their position and Prototype. Pay attention to the Prototype type and level, as well as the slotted Abilities, of each NFL star to create a team that is unstoppable.


Why not go full 6v6 humans? We tried all sorts of combinations when prototyping The Yard, from 7v7 all the way down to 3v3. We arrived at a maximum of three humans controlling six players because it struck a great balance between focusing on your Avatar and making sure that as many players as possible got involved in every single play.

So now that you know all the details, here is a Pro-Tip™: Try to upgrade Prototypes for every position group on the field. That way no matter where you end up on the field, you are ready to go. Next, scramble your strategy. A powered-up QB Prototype with WR abilities can be deadly in a double pass heavy offense, whereas a scrambling QB Prototype lined up in the slot can break lots of big runs. The choices, and strategies, are all yours.



So now you know how to play the game. You know the rules on the field. You are ready to go with your Prototype... Everything is in place. Now what? Welcome to The Yard World Tour.

At launch, we will have four venues that you will be able to experience.

Miami Port – a portside environment where you will take on some of South Florida’s best.


Lambeau Tailgate – This venue outside of Lambeau Field will introduce you to Packers stars and NFC North rivals.


F.O.B. Nico – a Forward Operating Base in an undisclosed location, this location is filled with NFL Combine stars who found the dog in them.


Brandenburg Football Festival – A field situated in front of Berlin’s famed Brandenburg Gate. This festival brings the NFL’s Pro Bowl stars to Europe in some of the hardest challenges The Yard has to offer.


Each one of these locations has unique challenges that you can take on. For instance, at F.O.B. Nico you will take on single drive drills with changing field position, or in Miami you will face first-and-goal situations. These locations may also change the duration of the Pass Rush Timer. In the future, who knows what rules we will come up with for future locations.



With over 2,000 individual pieces of gear at launch, and more to come, you’ll be able to carve out your own style in The Yard with unique visors, helmets, jerseys, pants, and more. There are two gear loadouts for both home and away.

The home and away teams in The Yard are distinguished by the home team wearing dark jerseys and the away team wearing light jerseys. You’ll be earning the Cred to unlock gear while you play, but there are also other ways to progress and earn new gear and rewards in The Yard.

First, leveling up each individual Prototype will earn you gear unique to that Prototype. Next, each venue has unique gear that can be earned by earning rank through the challenges, or via H2H when that venue is active. Finally, each season has a level ranking path that will unlock gear unique to that season.

When you are in-game, the challenges and H2H events for each location are scored on more than just the win or the loss; they have a minimum score that you must achieve to earn ranking points.

If you pass that minimum score, you will earn the ranking points that unlock the new gear and rewards mentioned above. If you fail that minimum score, you won’t earn ranking points, but you will still earn progress against your Prototype (and that sweet Prototype gear).

These location events are all created to be replayed, so don’t think of them as one-and-done challenges, but instead as the obstacle course that you will use to power up your prototypes and get ready for the crucible of H2H Yard games.


Over the course of the Madden season, we will be launching new Prototypes for you to level up, new locations for you to challenge, and new Legends, Icons, and NFL stars to join your team. Of course, we will also be adding fresh new gear to equip your Avatar. In The Yard, you should always expect the unexpected.

So that was a long blog, and it may sound a little bit complex at first, but we wanted to give you lots of tools to create amazing moments. We can’t wait to see the plays you pull off in The Yard, but we also can’t wait to hear how you want us to push this experience forward. The Yard is a place to celebrate the joy of football, and we want to share in that joy with you.

Thanks for reading!



One of the coolest things about The Yard is the Shared Inventory between Madden NFL 21 and Madden NFL 21 Mobile.

Connect and login to your EA account to seamlessly swap from your solo The Yard: Underground experience on mobile to The Yard on Madden NFL 21 online with friends. As long as you’re logged in, you’ll have access to your Avatar and inventory of earned rewards (Cred), progression (Rep, Madden Rank), and gear collection all season. Pick up and play The Yard anywhere.

Be sure to check out the Madden NFL Mobile Gridiron Notes on The Yard: Underground and get started today!


Our next Gridiron Notes will be on Tuesday, August 18 and will focus on Madden Ultimate Team for Madden NFL 21.


Post edited by NatureBoy2323 on


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