Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Aug 2005

'Madden 06' Gives Big Ben No Respect

Where's Rodney Harrison when you need him? Maybe Roethlisberger can get some advice on how to turn something pretty benign into motivation for proving all his critics wrong (or at least those critics who play 'Madden').

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 23 Aug 2005

56 comments, Last at 26 Aug 2005, 12:18am by Nate


by Glenn (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 9:57am

I thought this would be a dumb throwaway article, but it's actually very interesting in detailing how the Madden games dominate team locker rooms and on-field trash-talk.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:07am

It's also interesting how the Madden 06 designers have tried to implement QB awareness in a video game. Roethlisberger's criticism:
"I think a lot of guys don't like it as much because it makes it much harder. I know they're trying to make it more realistic and stuff, but it makes it harder, and I don't know if it's as fun," he said.
...gets to the heart of game design tradeoffs: do the players like a more realistic football simulation, or more arcade-style action?

Of course, different players like different styles in their games. Which is why it's a shame EA has its exclusive license now. There was room for at least one more player in this market.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:07am

Talk to me when EA's sweatshop turns out something other than a roster update and a glowing triangle on your QB's head. It's strange that Blitz: The League is going to be the best football game of the year.

by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:27am

let them first fix all the flaws before they add another one.
For arcade playing they created NFL Street. That's fun.

by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:30am

88 probably sounds about right for Roethlisberger. I mean, he is just a 2nd year guy.

All in all, I agree with #3, although I'm not 100% sold on Blitz: The League. What I really want is NFL 2K6. :^(

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:08am

Madden is for the knuckle-dragger who cares nothing about realism in a football game. I'd become a Satanist before I'd play a game of Madden in its current incarnation.

by VinnyMurphSully (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:33am

Haven't played the latest incarnation, but is Madden '06 Tom Brady better than Madden '06 Payton Manning?

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:52am

I'm looking forward to Madden07: Uncapped. Brady will be Manning's backup on the Jets. Go team!

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:58am

Player rankings for Madden 2006, grouped by team: http://sports.ign.com/articles/635/635982p1.html
Manning got a 99 and Brady a 97. I see that EA was afraid of angering RTodney Harrison, he got a ranking of 97.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 12:16pm

All I have to say is: TECMO BOWL!

by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 1:15pm

As Roethlisburger was the 12th rated QB in the league, I'd say the ratings are very generous for him.

by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 3:21pm

i heard rumors that EA was going to come out with a more sim-like football game than madden on the next-gen systems at some point. has anyone else heard anything like this?

i hope it's true. i can picture it now: having to allow time on the play clock for the right players to get onto the field... players getting formations wrong... offensive linemen standing around and doing nothing on blown plays... plays where there are 12 men on the field without getting caught... it's gonna be great.

by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 3:33pm

Since my computer has a difficult time dealing with the ads on ign, I just looked at the Broncos ratings, but I really don't like what I see. The ratings are way too generous. Maurice Clarett a 73? I remember Madden 03, when Clinton Portis was a 68 or something. Lenny Walls an 86? Ok, he's big. But can he actually play corner?

Here is an interesting scenario for Denver when they play Oakland twice each year. Who covers who? Do you put tall Walls on tall Moss, and Bailey on Porter again? Or do you go #1 against #1?

by J-Diddy (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 4:02pm

Disrespected?? After being overrated horribl by the media all year, Rothlisburger is upset because he is the TWELTH ranked QB in the league. I think that the game overrated him a little bit actually.

Let's prove on the field you're more than a one year wonder before crying about a video game.

by markb (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 4:45pm

Where’s Rodney Harrison when you need him?

Busy winning Superbowls. How about you?

by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 4:45pm

Yes, if Ben wants to plead disrespect, maybe he should try not to look like Josh McCown out there.

As for the people knocking Madden '06, I really don't see it at all. This year's game is the Winning Eleven of pro football- it's that good- and while no one was happy to see EA establish a monopoly over the pro football game market, they happened to put out a tremendous product this year. The changes they've incorporated this year are almost all for the better, and are generally things which more astute football fans should really appreciate (which comes out in the general media reviews of the game, where the reviewers want innovation but don't know what it looks like when it's staring them in the face).

by RyanW (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 5:07pm

Just so we're clear, Roethlisberger wasn't the one crying about his 88 ranking or clamoring for respect based on his rookie season. That was Jon Robinson, of sports.ign.com, who's job, as best I can tell, consists of playing video games with pro athletes.

As Starshatterer mentioned above this was Roethlisberger’s only criticism:

“I think a lot of guys don’t like it as much because it makes it much harder. I know they’re trying to make it more realistic and stuff, but it makes it harder, and I don’t know if it’s as fun,� he said.

by Melish (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 5:24pm

"Busy winning Superbowls. How about you?"
This is true. Harrison keeps a rigid schedule of winning Super Bowls five days a week. At any given moment, he is very likely winning a Super Bowl. For anybody who does not win Super Bowls with such regularity to criticize him, or even to mention his name, is preposterous.

by mistamaxwell (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 5:49pm

johonny's right. there never has been a game nearly as fun as Tecmo Bowl. I'd re-up $50 a year for updated rosters of Tecmo. Boycott EA and pull out the 8-bit or get a card and dice game.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 6:31pm

Madden '06 is really good. I got off the Madden train in 02 because they tried to add 50 layers of complexity but forgot to program DBs to defend long bombs. Now it is a little more balanced, though the complexity has gotten a little out of hand (I don't want to have to write five "Minicamps" to win one game.)

Oh, and in the game, Greg Lewis is the shizzle.

And Techmo fans: you guys are actually talking about Super Techmo, the one with Christian Okoye, right? The original Techmo had four offensive and four defensive plays. Super had 8 against 8.

And long live Ten Yard Fight!

by BHW (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 6:57pm

I last bought Madden about two or three years ago. I've pretty much played that one to death, so I was thinking of renting the new one and checking it out. Is there a quick summary of what changes have been made somewhere? I guess I can just search various videogame websites ...

... I just checked out the Bronco ratings and they did seem amiss. I mean, a 17 Throwing Accuracy for Champ Bailey? Who are they kidding?

by Marc (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:00pm

"It’s strange that Blitz: The League is going to be the best football game of the year."

I'm glad you're psychic so you can tell us how much better one game you've never played is than another game you've never played.

by Jason (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:26pm

As has been stated, ranking Roth 12th overall for QBs is QUITE generous, here are the QBs I would rank ahead of him without question(in no particular order):

Group 1 (Clearly Better) :Favre, Manning, Brady, McNabb, Culpepper, Bulger, Hasselbeck, Green, Vick, Pennington, Brees, Palmer, Delhomme

Group 2 are the Qbs 1 could make a decent argument are better than Ben

Group 2: (Arguably better) Plummer, McNair, Kitna, Carr, Brooks

By my count Ben is at best the 14th Best and possibly the 19th best at the moment

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:28pm

Re #20: you're referring to the arcade version of 10 Yard Fight, of course. The NES version of that game never happened.

by Nolan (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 7:51pm

Tecmo super bowl is great - but as far as I'm concerned, there was one better. The _original_ John Madden Football (I had it for my Apple //e, but I know that it existed for PCs, too). Must have come out in 1989 or so?? You could: make all of your own players, make your own plays (81 offensive plays, 81 defensive). It had injuries. It kept track of all stats, which could be saved, and then added up to keep track of stats for a season. You could play against other people or the computer. When designing plays (which included offensive line blocking schemes), you could test them against a variety of defenses. Etc, etc, etc. Fantastic.

by BHW (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 8:04pm

Big Ben ranked 10th last season in DPAR and 3rd in DVOA. I think a lot of people are holding his comparatively poor second half of the season and postseason against him to a pretty high degree.

Group 2: (Arguably better) Plummer, McNair, Kitna, Carr, Brooks

Jake Plummer ranked worse than Ben in both DPAR and DVOA, and I think that's fair.

McNair, of course, was injured, and if healthy I would say he's better than Ben right now.

Kitna, of course, is a backup -- a backup to a guy Ben outplayed last season (and, arguably, in college: Roethlisberger's 8.30 Yards/Attempt for his college career surpassed the 8.06 Palmer had in his Heisman season; there are obviously a lot of factors involved with that -- Palmer probably faced much more difficult competition, but Big Ben certainly had less talented teammates -- but with Ben's college rushing you can at least make the argument that it's close, especially when you consider the totality of Palmer's college career).

David Carr was not as good as Ben last season.

Aaron Brooks was not as good as Ben last season, and his 2003 marks do not match Ben's 2004 production.

We should probably expect some regression to the mean for Ben -- he threw a lot less passes than some of these other guys -- but he did have an impressive rookie year.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 8:12pm

-mistamaxwell There use to be sites on the web that would update Tecmo rosters every year. Tecmo heaven was one of them. Not sure they're still active and of course I'd never encourage someone to use a ROM of a video game.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 10:31pm

Re: 25.
The ability to design plays, even blocking schemes, persisted at least to the 94 version I had for the SNES. I'm not sure if they still have it or not. It could be one of those features, like the ability to lateral, that they did away with.
Personally, I disagree that the older games are better. Thus far I haven't liked 06 as much as 05, but in general I think football games have improved. I can't say the same for baseball.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:39pm

Disrespected?? After being overrated horribl by the media all year, Rothlisburger is upset because he is the TWELTH ranked QB in the league. I think that the game overrated him a little bit actually.

Let’s prove on the field you’re more than a one year wonder before crying about a video game.

Where in that article was Ben Roethlisberger complaining about his rating?

That's right. Nowhere.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:43pm

BHW, the difference between Rothlesburger and those other guys is Rothlesburger operated with only half of a playbook. He only had to read half of the field. He only had to throw about 33% of the time. Yes, when he did he was successful, but that's because the opposing defense was playing the run all day, every day. Put any QB on the Steelers last season and they would have had a ridiculous DVOA.

The point is, if you have a top-10 QB, you don't run the ball 2 times out of 3, or you get criticised for being an idiot. It just doesn't happen. By the same token, if you have a top-10 RB, you don't THROW the ball 2 times out of 3, unless you're named Mike Martz.

It should also be pointed out that defenses frequently just don't know how to prepare for a QB they haven't seen before. Look at Maddox. Maddox starts playing in Pittsburgh, and the defenses are all prepared for Stewart and have no clue who he is. Maddox blows up for a huge season. Towards the end of the season, opposing defenses are starting to get some film on him, starting to figure out his tendencies, have a chance to dig up some old film and check out his habits, and suddenly they're able to shut him down. Same thing happened with Danny Kanell in Denver. Steve Beurlein goes down and suddenly Kanell is thrust into the starting lineup, and he plays extremely well filling in. The next defenses all get a full week to prepare for him, and he's absolutely abysmal. Ben Roethlesberger comes into the NFL like gangbusters, and opposing defenses don't know how to react. Then the end of the season rolls around, they start to get some film on him, they start to get a handle on him, and he throws 10 INTs in his final 5 games.

by Bulldozer36 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/23/2005 - 11:53pm

While Roethlisberger did have a great year, he had one of if not best rushing attacks and defenses around him. Why is he not the best QB on this game? Hes played one season thats why.

by Bulldozer36 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 12:48am

What he did last year was pretty incredible and credulous but damn, if Eli had that kind of team around him, what would he have done? Probably threw one more touchdown thats all.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 12:58am

No love for Front Page Sports: Football? You could even design wack formations where only 6 men were on the line.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 4:08am

He isn't any better than 12th best. If anything, I'd put him lower. I don't see how this became an issue. I guess some fools made a big stink because the Steelers did well last season.

A lot of Madden ratings are inaccurate, but this was about right.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 4:09am

Check that. They're way off. He should be 75-80. Madden loves to overrate guys. They've been doing it for years.

by andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 7:42am

You could always turn off QB vision, his main weakness in the game. I don't think Ben has gone at all in any of my fantasy drafts I've done, and they are generally 24 qbs taken (12 teams each, 2 qbs).

As much as I hate to say it, I like Madden 06. QB vision, once used to it, works easily. I generally look off anyway and then look-throw a quick 2-step motion.

The best fun though is to make a 7'0", 415 mutant quarterback with power 100 and speed 1. He dwarfs the offensive line, and takes almost 30 seconds to plod up to get in position before the snap (giving you maybe 5 seconds to call the play). Just seeing this behemoth is worth it. And you can qb sneak for 4-5 yards using the "truck stick"...

by Vlad (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 10:31am

"The best fun though is to make a 7′0″, 415 mutant quarterback with power 100 and speed 1."

Or if you want to save time, you could just use Jared Lorenzen.

" I don’t see how this became an issue."

You did notice that the article is from a Pittsburgh newspaper, right? It's not an issue; it's a Steelers writer trying to fill space in the dull days of training camp.

by calig23 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 11:43am

Why is he not the best QB on this game? Hes played one season thats why.

Soooo.... Who here has made the claim that Roethlisberger should be the highest rated QB in Madden?


by Daniel (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 4:54pm

I have owned every Madden football game since 89-90, and I have to say this is the first time I was disappointed in the new game. It's basically the '05 version when it comes to game play and the new Superstar Mode is total crap. Super Tecmo Bowl for the NES was the most fun to play. I would take the Raiders with Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen and just run over everyone.
The ratings in the Madden game have always been a bit out of whack. Over the last few years Michael Vick has been grossly overrated and players like Tom Brady underrated.

by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 5:22pm

Well, Michael Vick is universally overrated, so that's not really a failing unique to Madden.

by Bulldozer36 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 7:45pm

Am I the only one getting the new XBox 360 and Madden with it? The graphics on the 360 version are like a 100 times tighter and is gonnna be soooooooo sweet on my 120" screen.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 10:06pm

Super Techmo Bowl ruled. I wish I had NFL2k6.

I couldn't stop myself from buying Madden.

I still wish I had NFL2k6.

by David Brude (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 10:42pm

Tecmo Super Bowl rocks. It was at the same time simple and complex.

One of the fundamental issues with a video game is that you can't make it too realistic. If Madded were truly like the NFL the average game length would be over an hour and a half!

by David Brude (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 10:43pm

Check out www.knobbe.org for a lot of info on tecmo super bowl.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/24/2005 - 10:45pm

I actually prefer the original Tecmo Bowl over Tecmo Super Bowl. I know it was less advanced (4 plays, 9-on-9, only one play for Bo Jackson, not all teams, QB Browns), but there was something about it that was just more fun. Of course, that didn't stop me and my friends from skipping school and playing entire seasons of Tecmo Super Bowl from time to time.

I hate commercials. They just had one of those annoying Chrysler commercials with Lee Iacoca, only this one had Snoop Dogg doing a horrible self-parody in it. I know it has nothing to do with this thread, but I just hate it so much. Also, the Arby's commercial with the 'Ranch tooth' just came on. Thank God for mute.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 1:53am

Re #48: Tom Brady has been underrated? The #2 QB in the entire league? Say all you want, but when you're rated the second best guy in the entire world at the most high profile position at the highest level of a sport, I find it hard to believe that you're "underrated".

As to Vick being overrated... I think it's a case of the video games giving the people what they want. He sells games, plain and simple. I think a lot of people would be very turned off if Vick was an 84 or something.

by Budman (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 4:55am

Even though being a huge fan of Madden on the PC over the last few, this one went on EBay after an hour of messing with it. Each year gets further away from SIM football and towards gimmicky arcade BS. Their Q/A has also gotten worse as glitches have been found already that ruin online play. In past years I would put up with it and work around the fools glitching/syncing, but vowed not to anymore. EA is too focused on adding useless dumb ideas ("QB cone" when super blitzes will be out in a month.. smart) that they can market rather than quality anymore.

Plus now that they cornered the NFL game market it will only get worse.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 9:32am

Well, apparently I can't spend half a day on an airplane and the other half with my family without all hell breaking loose around here. Numerous comments above have been deleted (even the satiric ones, sorry) and in the future I'll be permanently blocking the IP addresses of any commenters who post under our names pretending to be Football Outsiders writers. I now return you to your Tecmo Bowl and Madden discussions.

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 10:07am

Tecmo Super Bowl was sweet, and I actually did have the roster update from a couple years ago; unfortunately it was glitchy and couldn't support the teams that didn't exist in 91. I don't really mind playing ROMs of games that are completely out of circulation, but that's probably another discussion for another forum.

I have the same problem with Madden as a lot of other people do; the AI is stupid. But then I wonder, is Madden truly marketed for twenty-somethings that want realism or eighth graders who want to win 227-0? The best recourse is to just tweak the gameplay sliders...

and about #48, you might also want to put that in the 'Leave a comment' text; I saw someone accidently post as MDS on the site because he didn't realize there was a MDS (he changed his name the next post). I think I've also seen a second Aaron as well...

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 10:18am

SFiC (# 49 )--

I'm pretty sure that's why Aaron phrased it, "any commenters who post under our names pretending to be Football Outsiders writers," so folks won't get banned for just being lucky enough to share a name with one of the Outsiders.

by MET (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 11:36am

Enough of this talk about ratings, the real issue is whether the music is better this year than is previous versions.

by B (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 12:09pm

The music in Madden is always lousy, but at least it distracts you from Madden's horrible play by play.

by MET (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 12:31pm

Yeah agreed about the play by play. It's been the same comments for years.

by Vlad (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 1:33pm

"It’s been the same comments for years."


by Sean (not verified) :: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 6:17pm

Re 39:

Sorry, this year's version is nothing like Madden '05 (which itself was a huge step up from the terribly overrated '04). Superstar mode is a joke, but the point is to pay attention to how the game works on the field, and it has received a huge number of upgrades in that department that, regrettably, a lot of people seem to miss altogether. The run blocking is much better than any previous Madden, as offensive linemen engage and turn their men in order to create running lanes. The ability to shade defensive backs inside or outside ends up having a big impact, and it is particularly useful in correcting one of Madden's traditional problems, the overeffectiveness of the corner route. You can now call blocking adjustments presnap to counter blitz overload packages. The quarterback vision cone, far from being a gimmick, absolutely works the way it should, as you can now legitimately look off defenders and manipulate coverage with your eyes to help spring receivers. This works exactly the way it should, and it's a major step forward for simulating football in a video game format. There is a ton of stuff in this year's game that elevates it, but a) as I said, much of it is too subtle for people who are used to playing a very casual style of game and b) much of it is so complex that the aforementioned casual gamers won't bother to use it.

The game is fantastic, pure and simple.

by Nate (not verified) :: Fri, 08/26/2005 - 12:18am

Re: #33 - FPS: football was incredible. It was way too buggy, however.

All I want is 2k6. I'm just not an EA football fan.