How to Put a QB Spy in Madden 20?

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click one, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Key Takeaways:

  • A QB Spy is used to contain mobile quarterbacks who scramble out of the pocket.
  • To set a QB Spy, open the pre-play menu, select a linebacker or lineman, and assign them as a QB Spy.
  • Double tap the left D-pad on Xbox or flick the right stick towards QB Spy on Playstation to set a spy.
  • Effective QB Spies are fast linebackers or linemen with high Play Recognition ratings.
  • Use QB Spies sparingly, as they take a defender out of a pass rushing or coverage assignment.

In the modern NFL, mobile quarterbacks who can scramble and make plays outside the pocket have become increasingly common. From superstars like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray to crafty veterans like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, defenses must account for athletic quarterbacks. An effective tactic to contain scrambling quarterbacks in Madden 20 is the QB Spy. But how exactly does one set and use a QB Spy properly? This comprehensive guide will fully explain the QB Spy mechanic, when to use it, and how to maximize its effectiveness against agile quarterbacks. After reading, Madden players will understand everything needed to limit scrambling QBs with well-timed and strategic QB Spies.

The QB Spy is an indispensable tool when facing dual-threat quarterbacks who are lethal on the run. However, it must be used judiciously, as spying a defender reduces their ability to rush the passer or drop into coverage. This article will cover when to call a QB Spy versus other types of containment, which defenders make the best spies, and how to quickly set spies pre-snap. Proper QB Spy usage requires balancing risks versus rewards. Read on to gain the knowledge needed to contain Michael Vick, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and other elusive QB’s!

When Should You Use a QB Spy in Madden 20?

The QB Spy is one of several ways to contain a mobile QB, along with zone contains and man blitzes. But when is a QB Spy the right strategic choice? Here are some of the top situations where deploying a QB Spy makes sense:

  • Vs. Elite Scramblers: Against top tier scramblers like Lamar Jackson, using a spy is often the best way to limit their ability to break the pocket and rip off huge gains. Even fast LBs can’t always catch Vick and Jackson in the open field, so it’s wise to keep a defender in the throwing lanes ready to chase them down if they scramble.
  • 3rd & Long: In obvious passing situations, the QB is more likely to scramble if their receivers are covered. Spying on 3rd & medium/long can help take away the 1st down run while also providing time to cover receivers.
  • Red Zone: Inside the 20 yard line, the field is compressed and scrambles become more dangerous. Take away scrambling options near the endzone with a spy.
  • Mobile QB Has Hurt You Scrambling: If a mobile QB has gashed your defense early with their legs, adjust by using more spies to limit further damage.
  • Up By a Score Late: When protecting a lead late in a game, spies can allow you to keep more defenders in coverage while limiting the QB’s scramble opportunities.

Who Makes the Best QB Spy in Madden 20?

Not all defenders are equally suited to QB spy duties. Ideal traits for a good spy are:

  • Speed: They must have the quickness to chase down elusive QBs like Lamar Jackson when they break the pocket. Spies are often asked to cover ground in a hurry.
  • Play Recognition: Higher awareness and play recognition allows them to diagnose plays and react quickly when the QB scrambles.
  • Tackling: Sound tackling ability is vital to get mobile QBs down in the open field.
  • Block Shedding: Since the spy isn’t always blitzing, they need to be able to shed blocks as mobile QBs scramble around and turn broken plays into positive gains.

Certain positions make better QB spies based on these traits:

  • Fast Linebackers: LBs have the best blend of speed and tackling ability to mirror QBs and limit yards after the scramble.
  • Athletic DEs in a 3-4 Defense: 3-4 OLBs who are essentially stand up defensive ends make good spies. They rush the passer on most plays and can quickly react when the QB breaks the pocket.
  • Speedy CBs: In a blitz heavy scheme, using a corner spy allows them to cover receivers then attack the QB if they scramble.

Don’t use big defensive tackles as spies in Madden 20. They lack the speed and agility to effectively mirror and contain mobile QBs once they are on the move.

How to Set a QB Spy Pre-Snap in Madden 20

When you’ve decided to use a QB spy, how do you actually set one pre-snap? There are two methods to assign a defender as a spy:

1. Use the Pre-Play Menu:

  • Open the pre-play defensive adjustments menu.
  • Select “Change Player Assignment” for an individual defender.
  • Choose a fast LB, DE, OLB, or CB to be your spy.
  • Flick the right stick toward “QB Spy” to make the assignment.

2. Double Tap Left D-Pad (Xbox):

  • When picking a play, double tap the left d-pad.
  • A menu will pop up – select the defender you want to spy.
  • No need to switch to that player, just tap their icon.

This will make them rush the QB initially before spying if he scrambles. The pre-play menu method gives you a dedicated spy who will mirror the QB at the snap.

When Not to Use a QB Spy in Madden 20

While QB spies are useful against mobile QBs, they aren’t always the best choice. Overusing spies can hurt your defense. Avoid assigning spies in these situations:

  • Non-Mobile QBs: Using a spy against a Brady or Manning is wasting a defender who could be rushing or covering. Save spies only for elusive QBs.
  • Goalline/Short Yardage: At the goal line or 3rd/4th & short, it’s better to have extra defenders stuffing the run instead of spying.
  • Down Big Late: If you need a stop or turnover when down multiple scores late, disregard spying and send maximum pressure.
  • Strong Pocket Passers: Against strong pocket guys like Marino or Brees, four man pressure with max coverage is preferable to weaken the passing game.
  • Multiple Spies: Using 2+ spies leaves you vulnerable both against the run and pass. One dedicated spy is usually sufficient.

QB spy usage requires carefully weighing the pros and cons. Use them selectively as called for against scramble happy quarterbacks.

QB Spy vs. Containing the Edge: Pros and Cons

In addition to dedicating a defender as a QB spy, another way to limit scrambles is to set your defense to react aggressively to runs to the outside with “Edge Contain.” So when should you contain the edge versus use a spy?

Pros of Edge Contain:

  • Doesn’t require manually assigning a defender to spy.
  • Generally allows most of the defense to still play their normal assignments.
  • Helps force runs back inside.

Cons of Edge Contain:

  • Leaves middle of field open when QB breaks pocket.
  • Can create gaps for QB to scramble if not set properly.
  • Doesn’t dedicate a specific defender to mirror the QB.

Pros of QB Spy:

  • Dictates one defender always watches the QB, no guesswork.
  • Takes away middle scrambles better than edge control.
  • Allows flexibility to spy with LB or DE/OLB.

Cons of QB Spy:

  • Leaves one less defender in coverage or pass rush.
  • Can be manipulated by savvy players.
  • Requires manually identifying spy pre-snap.

Ideally, the best approach is to contain the edge to force QBs inside, while also spying a defender on known mobile QBs to limit scrambles in both directions. Mix contain and spy together when facing elite runners.

QB Spy vs. Man Blitzes

Besides dedicating a QB spy, another way to contain a mobile quarterback is to call man blitzes. By blitzing extra rushers, you reduce a QB’s time to scramble while providing man coverage behind it in case they do escape. How do man blitzes compare to using a spy?

Pros of Man Blitzes Against Mobile QBs:

  • Overwhelms the offensive line by outnumbering their pass protectors.
  • Gets pressure on the QB quickly to limit time for them to break the pocket.
  • Provides man coverage behind the blitz to run and cover scrambles.

Cons of Man Blitzes:

  • Leaves fewer defenders in intermediate/deep zone coverage.
  • Blitz can be picked up before pressuring the QB.
  • Man coverage vulnerable to quick pass plays.

Pros of QB Spy:

  • Dedicates a defender to always keep eyes on the QB.
  • Uses zone or man coverage behind the spy to counter short throws.
  • Allows flexible spy choices – LB, DE, CB, etc.

Cons of QB Spy:

  • Leaves one less pass rusher.
  • Smart QBs can manipulate the spy.
  • Requires guessing right on who to spy.

The bottom line is man blitzes bring pressure, while spies keep discipline on mobile QBs. Mixing both approaches together is an effective strategy to keep athletic quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson contained both in and outside of the pocket.

QB Spy Techniques and Strategies

Mastering QB spies requires learning when to deploy them, who to spy with, and proper spying tactics:

  • Disguise your spy intention pre-snap or smart QBs will know to avoid them.
  • Don’t spy with the same player/position repeatedly or you become predictable.
  • Mix in “green dog” blitzes – send the spy if their coverage responsibility stays in to block.
  • Contain mobile QBs inside by setting edges and spying up the middle.
  • Spy CBs are effective in blitz heavy schemes when you need extra coverage.
  • Don’t always spy pre-snap – you can identify a spy post-snap reactively too.
  • If a QB has burned you scrambling, adapt by using more spies.
  • Save spies primarily for known mobile QB’s – don’t waste on pure pocket passers.
  • Use selectively and situationally when scrambling likelihood is highest.

Mastering QB spies takes practice and savvy playcalling. But used properly, it’s one of the most effective tools to contain dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks.


To counter mobile quarterbacks, the QB spy is an indispensable weapon in Madden 20. Spies like fast linebackers shadow the QB and limit scrambles when they break the pocket. QB spies are best used selectively against elite scramblers like Lamar Jackson and should be complemented by other contain tactics. Master the skill of disguising spies pre-snap and mixing up your spy choices. Employ QB spies situationally on 3rd & long, in the red zone, and when protecting leads. Integrate spying with man blitzes and edge containment for maximum effectiveness versus scramblers. Learn to balance the risks and rewards of dedicating a defender to QB spy duties. Use this guide to get the most out of QB spies and neutralize mobile quarterbacks!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you set a QB Spy in Madden 20?

To set a QB Spy in Madden 20, open the pre-play menu, select a fast linebacker, defensive end, or cornerback, and assign them as a spy. You can also double tap the left D-pad on Xbox or flick the right stick towards Spy during pre-snap.

When should you use a QB Spy in Madden?

Use QB Spies situationally against mobile QBs in key scenarios like 3rd & long, red zone, and when protecting a lead late. Avoid overusing spies as it leaves you vulnerable.

What defensive position makes the best QB Spy?

Fast linebackers with good play recognition and tackling make ideal QB spies in Madden. Athletic 3-4 OLBs and speedy corners also work well. Avoid using slower DTs.

Is it better to QB Spy or contain the edge against mobile QBs?

A combination of both is best. Containing the edge funnels QBs inside, while spying limits scrambles up the middle. Use both contain and spies in tandem.

How do you counter a fast QB who keeps scrambling on you?

If you are struggling with a mobile QB scrambling, adapt by using more QB spies. You can also call more man blitzes to get faster pressure and have man coverage behind it in case they escape the pocket.

Should you QB Spy against pocket passing QBs like Brady and Brees?

No, QB spying is wasted against pure pocket passers. Save spying only for mobile dual threat QBs who frequently scramble, like Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen.

About The Author

Scroll to Top