|Receivers like CJ are licking their chops for Madden 13|
We really like some of the new innovations we've heard about in Madden 13. The ability to disguise defenses in particular. Here's the thing: None of it matters unless the passing game is more balanced and offense isn't overpowering. The simple truth is this: When a pass is thrown in Madden that touches a receiver's hands--it's a catch 95% of the time. Who cares, right? Why is this a problem? Because the way the game's engine works, a number of routes give the receiver a natural advantage because he's running away from the defender, that's why. Routes like the slant, post, flag and arrow route may actually be MORE OPEN in Madden 13. This is Madden after all, and their track record of balancing new features is spotty at best. Who doesn't remember receivers running free in Madden 11 after DB footwork was implemented? FACT: The scourge of easier user catching is upon us this year, so we may have to PREPARE FOR THE APOCALYPSE. (yes--that was Mike Williams)
That's Right, sadly; some of the innovations we've wanted for so long could actually make gameplay WORSE. I know, I know. You're thinking: "How? Super LBs being gone is a good thing you big dummy! Defenders reacting realistically is long overdue." And they could be. Here's the problem...if Madden catching is at its usual level we could be doomed. Sounds crazy right? Let me clue you into a simple truth. As much as you hated high-jumping linebackers and warping defenders, secretly you LOVED them. That's right. Because they did a good job of providing offensive and defensive balance. I broke it down months ago. When your CB didn't warp and got beat because he didn't bat down a pass, and players were running free in your zone guess who leapt ten feet in the air to save the day? Yup, Mr. Super Linebacker himself. Doubt me? Pop in Madden 12 and count how many times mister-leap-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound saves your ass. I'm going on the record and telling you right now, without those superhuman LBs to provide a buffer, if receivers get MORE SEPARATION? Insane completion percentages (especially with accurate QBs) will break more than just a few controllers.
Unless of course, dislodges and pass break-ups play a much bigger role.
There's an early Madden clip where we see a Rams defender break up a sure Dwayne Bowe catch in the endzone by dislodging the ball. In truth, these are the types of plays we've been wanting for years. These plays aren't drops, they're Pass Breakups and should be credited as a good defensive play. Sadly, we don't see these plays enough. Think about it: In Madden, one of three things happens when a pass is thrown. Either its caught, batted away or intercepted. Big hits that separate the ball and receiver are RARE (they aren't even a stat for crying out loud, the game counts them as a drop) and its a shame because it lessens the real effect that big hitters like Polamalu, Clay Matthews and Ray Lewis have on the game. Look at this newest gameplay clip. Defenders have the opportunities for dislodges at 1:18 and 2:04. They whiff both times. The second play we can almost excuse as Vincent Jackson is a big, physical possession receiver. But Desean Jackson hasn't exactly made a career of holding on after big shots.
Money routes are effective in Madden because its a sure bet positioning will let our receiver will get his hands on the ball. While bat-downs by linemen, off-target passes and dislodges would do a great job eliminating money routes, they simply don't factor in enough. I'm talking from experience. In our Madden 12 Community we lowered the WR catching to 25 and guess what? All of a sudden no money route was safe. Wait? What? YES!! Throwing to a tightly covered receiver was bad for your completion percentage as there wasn't any guarantee he'd hold onto the ball. Here are some of my very own throws where defenders arrived at the same time as the ball or guys just flat got knocked the @#%& out. Sadly, please note that I was throwing to my backup TE Clay Harbor and not anyone of note. Any Madden Vet knows that if that was Gonzalez or anyone like Fitzgerald, CJ or Boldin, those are catches ten times in ten.
Well, that's my warning. I'm definitely crossing my fingers for real 4th Down Percentages and the return of Fairplay Rules in Madden 13. Because if receiver catching is anything like its been for this generation, they may be the only thing preventing money routes from reigning supreme.