I play Madden obsessively. It's my favorite thing to do in my Birthday month leading up to the NFL season in September (and the beginning of my fall semester). It's kind of a last ditch exercise of freedom. The last 2-3 years, I have been owning noobs online with a team consistently rated in the bottom 3-5 teams in the league, and last place last year. It's safe to say, I'm pretty damn good at the game considering people online use the Colts/Chargers/Saints/Vikings, etc.
That said, who wouldn't want a little help in the form of a new Rams' roster? Madden 11, despite rating us lower than anyone once again, is providing exactly that. Some help at last. It still has some issues, but I am generally pleased with the ratings. Here are my thoughts on why people will once again fear me in the virtual pigskin arena, as well as a breakdown on how we compare to the rest of the NFC West.
- Worst part: There is no way in hell Chris Long is a 75. He's closer to an 85 in my opinion, because he is at worst our 3rd best defensive player (behind Laurinaitis and Atogwe).
- Atogwe's contract situation was up in the air when they formed these. He will be there by the time the game launches in August, and at worst, he'd be there in one of the regular updates/patches EA does. Also, expect him to be rated in the low 90s/high 80s, because Madden is one of the few places OJ gets respect. (ZING!)
- VERY pleased with Mardy Gilyard's rating at 70 overall. Many 2nd and 3rd rounders didn't get to sniff the 70 area. Gilyard's catch rating (86!) will make him a very useful slot weapon for me. :D I actually agree with Robinson rated as faster, because Gilyard's strength is acceleration. I do believe Robinson should have been rated higher in catching (75), especially since "catch it with my body" Avery got a 78 in that department.
- I am deeply saddened by the fact that our best receiver is a 75 overall and I might actually think that's too high.
- How the hell is Brooks Foster rated above Amendola/Burton? Does he have friends at EA? Sorry, but if you sit out a year as an unproven rookie, you do not deserve a rating above people who played and produced. Also, how the hell is Burton faster than Amendola?
- The Offensive Line ratings are solid. With these ratings, my personal depth chart will have:Jason Smith (83 OVR) at LT, Jacob Bell (85) at LG, Jason Brown (89) at C, Adam Goldberg (76) at RG, and Rodger Saffold (71) at RT. Only bummer? I think Jason Brown deserves a much higher rating. Like, 92-95 range. He is a rock. The only explanation I have for this is that the Offensive Line's overall play last year in the passing game (8th Worst in Sacks Allowed, 3rd Worst in QB Hits) hurt Jason Brown, but 89 isn't the end of the world.
- Laurinaitis gets love! 85 overall is actually about 3 points better than I thought they'd give him. Not because he doesn't deserve it, but because Madden tends to overlook people. I think he's closer to the 87-90 range, but considering that he plays on the Rams, I'll take 85 in fear of the 80-83 I thought they'd screw him with. Not to mention the very solid 86 Block Shedding rating, 95! in Pursuit, 96! in Play Recognition, 94! in Tackling. YES! (Does fist pump)
- As for the rest of the linebackers, I can't remember the last time I had my Sam/Will both rated at or over 70. Thank you Diggs/Carpenter. May your ratings increase as the year moves on. Definitely the best linebacking corps in Madden we've had in a while.
- Donnie Jones gets his due (94!), Josh Brown gets somewhat of snub (87 when he should be in the low 90s). Can't complain much though, this is still one of the better kicking tandems.
- If Fred Robbins can play at or above his 80 rating, we're going to be ok. Cliff Ryan is a guy that might make that leap into the 80 range this year. Darrell Scott makes a huge 11 point lift from last year's 53 rating, so we've got some depth going.
- I like that we don't have any lineman below 60 on either side of the ball for once. I think the Madden team is unintentionally illustrating the toughness that Spags in instilling in this team. I know it isn't the greatest thing, but given how many scrubs we tend to have, it's progress.
- Looking at the roster from last year, Bartell and Butler didn't improve or decrease. I think that's the perfect definition of how they played last year. At B- range. Good job on that one Madden.
- Jerome Murphy(70) is rated almost as high as Tye Hill(71) was at this point last year. Impressive for Jerome, but it brings a bit of sadness to me that I see Hill's name on last year's roster.
- Justin King shoots up 10 points from last year's 53 rating. Impressive.
- We shouldn't complain about Bradley Fletcher's rating. He shot up 5 points despite missing over half of the season. I'll take that given what could have happened (a decrease). Fletcher is probably better than his 68 rating, but it's fair I'd say.
- S-Jax got screwed. If the ratings for the Vikings show Peterson has a better rating, I will choke someone. I think S-Jax is a 96-97. We'll see. That extra point or two means a lot at the top.
So there you have it. Overall, this team is MUCH better this year compared to last year(Madden Wise). Here's a comparison to the rest of the NFC West:
The Overall Rankings have:
- Arizona Cardinals- 79 Overall
- San Fransisco 49ers- 79 Overall
- Seattle Seahawks- 75 Overall
- St. Louis Rams- 66 Overall
We're worst again (thanks a lot, 1-15), but the 13 point gap between the Rams and ARZ/SF is the smallest gap between the top team in a division and the bottom team in a division (tied with the 13 point gap the Cowboys have over the Redskins in the NFC East). Considering the units in this division, it's actually a wide open race if you ask me. Hmm...:D
Best QB in the Division....drumroll....:
His 80 Overall rating puts our 50 Million dollar rookie at #1 in the NFC West before he's played a snap. I like it!
Matt Hasselbeck comes in 2nd with a 79 Overall rating.
Alex Smith is 3rd at 77 Overall.
Matt Leinart comes in a #4 with his 75 rating.
Well well well. :D This might be Madden only, but I don't think it'll take too long for this to be true on the real turf. Plus, this whole article is on Madden Terms.
- Steven Jackson- 95 (DUH)
- Frank Gore- 93
- Chris Wells- 82
- Leon Washington- 80
Another big category win for us. Pretty obvious however.
Best WR/TE corps by average rating(calculated using top 5 players on each corps):
- Arizona- 80.2 AVG
- San Fransisco- 78.8 AVG
- Seattle- 78.4 AVG
- Rams- 71.0 AVG
This one was obvious for the wrong reasons. Damn it all. Arizona drops a little closer to the pack with the loss of Boldin, but Fitzgerald keeps them on top. Crabtree(83) and Davis (96) help the Niners tremendously. Houshmandzadeh(87) and Carlson (84) are the backbone in Seattle, and we've got Donnie Avery and Mardy Gilyard. It could be worse right?
Best Offensive Line By Average Rating (Using Projected Starters):
SF- 82.0, ARZ- 79.2, STL- 80.8, SEA- 79.8
- San Fransisco- 82.0
- Rams- 80.8
- Seattle- 79.8
- Arizona- 79.2
The Niners invested heavily in the O-Line with the Iupati and Davis picks, and it shows. Last year we won this category, and Saffold's addition should ensure that we win it in the future. However, Jason Smith didn't make the leap that we would have wanted, and this is why his rating decreased from 84 to 83 this year instead of increasing. An injury free year should ensure that he helps us win again. Okung helped Seattle overcome Arizona, which added Alan Faneca and his 91 rating.
Best Defensive Line Unit By Average Rating (Using Projected Starters):
- SEA- 78.3
Arizona's Dockett is the kind of football animal that puts teams over the top. Smith and Franklin anchor San Fran. Both the Cards/Niner's ratings were based on the 3-4 defense they use primarily. Seattle is a little more down to Earth, powered by Mebane and former Trojan Lawrence Jackson (affectionately called Lo-jack). We bring up the rear, but Fred Robbins and Chris Long's sure-to-change-via-update rating will likely improve our ranking at some point.
Best Linebacker corps by Average Raing (UPS):
- SF- 85
- SEA- 84
SF wins by virtue of Willis and his ungodly 99 Rating. Seattle might be a little more well rounded with Tatupu and Curry in their 4-3 scheme. Arizona's loss of Dansby (90) hurts, but the wound is assuaged by Joey Porter's 86 rating. We bring up the rear again, but Laurnaitis' sophore 85 beats #4 Overall in 2009's Aaron Curry (83, suck it Hawks!), and this rating is sure to go up. If Bobby Carpenter can find his fit in the 4-3, this unit may be better than its rating.
Best Defensive Back corps by Average Rating (including Atogwe estimated Rating):
- ARZ- 87.3
- SEA- 81.8
- SF- 81.3
- Rams- 80.3
Arizona's got DRC and Adrian Wilson. It's hard to find a better safety/CB tandem. Seattle's Earl Thomas was considered one of the best overall players in the draft, and along with Trufant's 87 rating, he makes the Hawks' solid. San Fran has a group of players in the low 80s, but none under, and they're headed by Nate Clements. We bring up the rear using Atogwe's projected 90 Rating (based on last year's rating). He went as high as 94 in the updates throughout the season after starting the year at 90. I predict they'll give him the same base rating despite the injury. Bartell and Jerome Murphy head the corner spots at 81 and 70 respectively, while James Butler is a solid 80.
Best Kicking Unit (Kicker/Punter ratings):
- Rams- 90.5
- SF- 88
- ARZ- 84.5
- SEA- 81
This one was pretty obvious. Brown and Jones are two of the best in each category. San Fran's got Nedney, and he makes them solid. Arizona added Jay Feely, Seattle is a little lacking. Note to the Rams: KEEP GAMES CLOSE!
Having the best QB/RB in the division, as well as the 2nd Rated O-line makes me happy as a Madden Gamer. It gives me a chance to win against more skilled players when my only disadvantage is roster power. I don't lose often, and when I do it is by a very small margin (3-7 points). It isn't unreasonable to think that the roster might have changed those outcomes. I'm thrilled for this. The biggest addition may very be the addition of Mardy Gilyard. He will be invaluable in the slot, which is one of many go-to plays I need to run when using the Rams. I hope the ratings are updated to fix the Chris Long snub, as well as a few other minor improvements.
Madden 11 can't come soon enough, because it means the real deal is right around the corner and I've got a virtual appetizer to hold me down till September. Thanks EA.