Madden Ratings Are Out
I saw this on Deadspin, and feel obliged to pass it on and comment. The player ratings for Madden 2007 have been posted. Some notes of interest:
A lot of the rankings seem to be inflated this year. How else do you explain Kurt Warner getting an 87? They must have mistakenly entered his stats from Madden 2002 into this game. Also, Jake Plummer gets a 90, meaning that I'm not the only person who looks at his game through rose-colored glasses.
Tom Brady has dropped from a 99 to a 98 this year, which should be treated as a warning sign in New England.
The rookies are getting a lot of love this year. Reggie Bush has an overall rating of 87, which is the highest rating for a rookie that I can remember. I think it's fair. First overall selection Mario Williams gets an 86, which is too high in my opinion. Also getting an inflated grade is the 6th overall pick, tight End Vernon Davis of San Francisco. You won't hear me complaining about that one.
The rookie quarterbacks stack up as follows: Vince Young (Tennessee): 82; Matt Leinart (Arizona): 81; Jay Cutler (Denver): 79. Second-round pick Kellen Clemens (J-E-T-S) comes in at 74, which sounds reasonable.
The 49ers, who I always use in my franchise mode, look to have a decent lineup this year. There's more depth than last year, though they lack the top-end players. My favorite statistic: rookie running back Michael Robinson, who quarterbacked Penn State last year, has basically the same throwing power as "franchise" quarterback Alex Smith (85, compared to Smith's 86). That, combined with his 87 speed, might convince me to try and convert him back to quarterback (is it possible in Madden?) and run a spread offense.
Other facts about the 49ers that have me excited:
The improved offensive line, which has three players above 87 (and the right side of the line is in the low 80s). This is an improvement over last year's patchwork line, and should help my running game, which will have to succeed honestly this year, unless I can steal Larry Johnson from Kansas City once again. I'm not holding my breath on that happening.
They have two tight ends with 86 ratings (Davis and Eric Johnson). Throw in new #1 receiver Antonio Bryant (also 86 overall) and an improved Arnaz Battle (82), and the passing game, one of the Niners weaknesses in Madden 2006, should be much improved.
It's nice to see Shawntae Spencer, who was an absolute freak in last year's edition (he increased about 20 points overall in the first two years of my franchise), get some recognition this year. He starts off at 83 overall.
The Niners' other first round pick this year, outside linebacker Manny Lawson, has 90 speed! I like to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, so I normally build my defense around speed on the edges (linebacker and defensive ends). Regardless of whether I stick with the 3-4, or move to my preferred 4-3 base set, Lawson is the type of player I want in my system.
Here's how I normally build my 4-3 defense:
Massive (300 pound plus) defensive tackles.
Smaller, quick defensive ends who can rush the quarterback. I will normally platoon one of them with a bigger body who plays on first and second down.
Fast linebackers. I like my boys to be in the mid-high 80s for speed.
Physical corners who can play man coverage, and fast safeties in the secondary.
The personnel that the Niners have don't really fit this scheme, partly because they've been assembled to play in a 3-4 base, partly because they're not the most talented bunch. I have to decide whether to stick with the defense as is, or try to rebuild it quickly in my preferred mold.
I have just over a week and a half to decide, since Madden gets released in 11 days. Who else is excited?