Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Madden Update

Wait a minute. What's going on here? How on earth am I off to a 2-0 start with my San Francisco 49ers? Not only are they the worst team in the league, but I gutted a significant part of my team in hopes of building for next year, and turned over about half of my team in the process. Sure I brought in a handful of guys who can contribute right now, but this is still the worst club in the league.

There are a couple of caveats. My initial plan was to play on All-Madden, but consecutive 50-3 (give or take a few points) blowouts convinced me I wasn't ready. Nonetheless, I didn't fare much better on All-Pro, getting shut out by Cowboys (shameful) and managing only a garbage time touchdown against the Chargers. I also gave up about 75 points in the process, and had my starters in for the duration of both games. Things were not looking up at this point, and a 0-16 season felt like a real possibility.

Second, my two wins are over the Cardinals (their new stadium is nice) and the Rams.

Still, I'm confounded as to what has just happened. Surely it's a stroke of luck, and my team will come crashing back down to video game reality in Week 3 against Philadelphia. If not, I might have to re-evaluate my initial plan, which was to suck badly for the first season, load up on draft picks, and clear as much cap room as possible going into the off-season to try and acquire a lot of young talent, and a couple of pro-bowl caliber free agents.

To bring you up to speed, here was my training camp:

• I made the crucial decision to abandon Mike Nolan's 3-4 defense, and installed my preferred 4-3.

• I traded away the following players who figured to be starters, or see a lot of action: Kevan Barlow (who didn't compare me to any dictators), Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Newberry, Bryant Young, Anthony Adams, Jeff Ulbrich, Derek Smith, Walt Harris, Tony Parrish.

• I acquired the following players in trades: DeAngelo Williams, Taylor Jacobs, Kris Mangum, Jason Spitz, Raheem Brock, Maake Kemoeatu, Boss Bailey, Marlin Jackson. I also signed a couple of rookie free agents - RB Michael Robinson and FB JD Runnels. I then promoted David Baas (C), Isaac Sopoaga (DT), Brandon Moore (MLB) and Chad Williams (SS) into the starting lineup.

• I'm at the maximum 10 picks in next year's draft. I have one in the first, two in the second, four in the third, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth.

• After re-signing a handful of would-be free agents to extensions, I have $47 million in cap room, and that figures to go up in the off-season when I let a bunch of backups go. While my draft picks will take up at least $20 million of this, the only starters I need to re-sign are Arnez Battle (I'm not yet convinced he's worth the $4 mil per season he's asking for), and Mike Adams (who won't cost much if I decide to keep him). That should leave me with over $30 million to play with on the open market, which will hopefully be used to add an impact wide receiver and/or upgrade my offensive line.

• Somewhere in between, I got outscored about 175-13 over the course of four games. Alex Smith threw zero touchdowns, and about 10 picks.

Here's what has happened in the two regular season games:

• Alex Smith has looked positively Montana-esque at times, despite throwing 3 picks in the first two games. He atoned for it with 2 second half touchdowns to rally against the Rams, including a 96 yarder to rookie Brandon Williams in the final two minutes.

• My active, speedy, 4-3 defense has put a ton of pressure on our opposing QBs.

• Brandon Moore quickly justified his insertion into the starting lineup with an 11 tackle performance against the Rams.

• The offensive line held steady from left tackle to center, though the right guard (Eric Heitmann) and right tackle (Kwame Brown) have looked shaky in pass protection.

• DeAngelo Williams ran all over the Cardinals defense (he netted over 90 yards), but was less effective against the Rams.

I'm still unsure how exactly I'm off to a 2-0 start. I can think of three possible explanations:

1. All-Pro level is ridiculously easy.
2. The Cardinals and Rams really suck.
3. I would make a fantastic general manager.

While I would like to think it's #3, it's most likely a combination of #1 and #2, but who knows? What I do know for sure is that after a frustrating first day, I am once again excited about playing Madden.

And to correct a comment in the last Madden thread, there is the hit stick in this version.


At 12:14 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Mmm. Madden, mini pizzas, and coke. It's like old times. All I need is Kirks to ask me "who's winning?'


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