After the final play of the Super Bowl each season, every fan immediately begins longing for August and the return of football. Baseball may be America’s pastime but football is America’s game and training camps opening along with preseason action are the appetizers to the NFL season.
But the action on the field isn’t the only thing that football fans look forward to each August. This month also means the release of the latest Madden video game and this year’s version features Tom Brady as the coverboy. The Madden franchise has sold over 100 million copies of the video game which makes it the second best-selling sports video game of all-time, trailing only FIFA.
No matter how great the gameplay is; some fans of it will always find something to complain about it. A similar situation applies to the players that are actually in the game: no matter how great their rating is, they will find some attribute that they are unhappy with. Most of the time that chief complaint is the speed attribute as every player thinks they are faster than what is listed. Even Bengals rookie John Ross has reason to complain as he set the 40-yard dash combine record of 4.22 seconds and was still given a speed of 98.
But which Madden ratings are just deplorable and make no sense? Which Madden ratings make you think that you could do a better job than the guy who assigns player ratings? Which Madden ratings just took a giant s--- on the player involved? We’ll take a look at the worst of the worst as here are the top 15 Madden 18 ratings that are disgraceful.
16 Marcus Mariota: 80
Yes, he needs to stay healthy but it’s not like Mariota’s injury attribute brought his overall rating down to an 80. He finished one point lower than the person whom who will forever be compared with, Jameis Winston, despite Mariota having a better QB rating, a better touchdown-to-interception ratio, and twice as many rushing yards. Speaking of Mariota’s running, they may have shortchanged his speed rating (88) as they gave Teddy Bridgewater a speed of 82 and he’s coming off one of the worst leg injuries in recent memory.
Mariota may not have a Brett Favre-like arm, but he also doesn’t have the third-weakest arm among starting QBs as only Alex Smith and Trevor Semian had worse scores on throwing power. Mariota is a darkhorse MVP candidate for the 2017 season and I expect his in-season rating to skyrocket.
15 T.Y. Hilton: 88
The good news for TY Hilton is that he’s the second-highest ranked player on the Colts. The bad news for the Colts is that his ranking is just 88 which tells you about their lack of talent. But in Hilton’s regard, despite him leading the NFL in receiving last year, 14 receivers were given better ratings than him. It’s not like Hilton was just a one-year wonder as he ranks 4th in the NFL in receiving yards since the 2013 season. He’s also piled up the yards without the benefit of another threat at receiver for the Colts…or a solid O-line…or an above-average running game. Hilton may not be able to play all three wide receiver positions but he excels in his role as a flanker just as Julian Edelman (89) excels as a slot receiver; yet Edelman was given a higher rating. Hilton is a true #1 receiver and it’s about time people, and Madden czars, recognize it.
14 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: 82
There weren’t many ha-has out of Titletown once Clinton-Dix received word of his Madden rating. The Pro Bowl free safety led the Packers in interceptions and ranked second in tackles. He is adept against both the run and the pass while also being the quarterback of the back seven. He received a rather-pedestrian score for play recognition (83) despite always being around the ball on passes across the middle. I expected the rating that strong safety Morgan Burnett received (86) to also be about what Clinton-Dix would receive but apparently Burnett’s tenure gave him the better rating. On a side note, Clinton-Dix did receive a nice Catching rating of 79 but Packers fans have to be a little worried that wide receivers like Jeff Janis and Geronimo Allison couldn’t top a free safety in that attribute.
13 Jordan Howard: 85
All Howard did last season was finish second in the NFL in rushing yards despite being the third-youngest running back in the league. Howard started just 13 games and averaged over 95 yards per game in his starts which equates to a 1500 yard season. Unlike Ezekiel Elliott, Howard didn’t have the Great Wall of Dallas paving running lanes and Howard also had 8 men in the box every single play. When the likes of Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, and Jay Cutler are your quarterbacks; opponents don’t fear the pass and load up to stop the run, yet Howard still performed admirably. Speaking of Elliott, he had 5 fumbles last year and was awarded a Carrying rating of 88 while Howard had just 2 fumbles and received a Carrying rating of…89? Huh?
Howard does need to work on catching (66) the ball out of the backfield but he is as complete a back as there is in the game and should be rewarded with a better rating.
12 Brandin Cooks: 86
With the trade for Brandin Cooks, the Patriots have their fastest receiver since the Randy Moss-Donte Stallworth tandem in 2007. Cooks runs a 4.33 40-yard dash and Madden has appropriately given him a speed of 96. But Cooks’ overall rating is lacking and even trails new teammate Julian Edelman (89) despite each of Cooks’ past two seasons being better than any of Edelman’s seasons in his 8 year career.
Cooks seems to be docked points for his route running which is odd as the Saints’ ran arguably the most complex offensive system in the league. Cooks has been trained at all three receiver positions and the Patriots should better utilize his speed more so than the Saints ever did. DeSean Jackson (87) received a better rating despite being a one-trick pony while Cooks is a complete receiver who hasn’t even reached his prime yet.
11 Aaron Rodgers: 98
True or false: Everything that Tom Brady can do on a football field, Aaron Rodgers can also do? True
True or false: Everything that Aaron Rodgers can do on a football field, Tom Brady can also do? False
The perfect example of the latter is Rodgers’ scramble and sideline throw to Jared Cook against Dallas in last year’s playoffs. No other right-handed quarterback in NFL history could make that play, even the great Tom Brady. I’m not saying that Brady should be less than a 99; he shouldn’t. I’m saying that Rodgers should also be in the 99 category for quarterbacks. A-Rod may not be in the Russell Wilson/Cam Newton category in terms of speed but he was severely shortchanged in that department. Rodgers was given the same speed (79) as Kirk Cousins! Cousins has 200 rushing yards in his entire career while Rodgers has rushed for 200+ yards in 8 seasons. Bump up Rodgers’ speed a couple of points and he should come in at a 99.
10 Vic Beasley: 83
So apparently the league leader in sacks and first-team All-Pro, Vic Beasley, is just the 10th best player on his own team. Madden puts Beasley at LOLB, which is fine, and one can assume that he would have a higher rating when at DE. However, Von Miller is a similar edge-rusher and he was given a 99 at LOLB. I know there is more to a pass-rusher’s rating than simply getting to the quarterback but the most important thing for a pass rusher is getting to the QB and no one did that better than Beasley. I thought Beasley’s finesse moves attribute would be through the roof but it was just 91 (which should be his overall rating). I guess Beasley is just going to have to lead the NFL in sacks, be named first-team All-Pro, and appear in the Super Bowl, again, for him to get some respect for Madden 19.
9 Dee Ford: 78
Man, someone at Madden really doesn’t like pass-rushing linebackers not named Von Miller. Ford was the best front-seven player last season on the league’s 7th-ranked defense. He had 10 sacks while no other Chief had more than 4 sacks. Ford accumulated those numbers despite having no reliable pass-rusher on the other side as Justin Houston played just 5 games and Tamba Hali has been relegated to a backup. Hali has put in a lot of great years for the Chiefs but he’s clearly inferior to Ford at this point even though Hali received a rating of 82. Just like in the case of Vic Beasley, Ford’s rating will skyrocket if he line him up at defensive end (in a 4-3) instead of at outside linebacker.
8 Adam Thielen: 81
Who? That’s probably what many are saying but don’t sleep on the native Minnesotan playing for the Vikings. Thielen was the main reason why 1st round pick Laquon Treadwell rode the bench all season and why the Vikings made no effort to retain Cordarrelle Patterson. After posting just 20 catches for 281 yards over his first two seasons, combined; Thielen had 69 grabs for nearly 1000 yards in 2016. The quarterback’s rating when throwing to Thielen was 121.9 which was the third-highest mark in the league for any receiver. Thielen also had the third-best catch percentage among WRs which is the percentage of balls thrown his way that are caught. He may not be a burner like many of the receivers with better ratings but it’s hard to find more than a handful of players with better hands. Yet, Thielen still failed to even get into the 90s in any of the three Catch catergories!
7 A.J. Bouye: 88
Bouye was arguably the best player to change teams this offseason as the former Texan signed a $67.5 million contract with the Jaguars. Bouye is worth every penny as he was ranked as the second best cornerback in the NFL last season per Pro Football Focus. However, Madden is less than enthused about Bouye’s abilities as they ranked him the 10th best cornerback for 2017. The most egregious cornerback with a better rating is the Falcons’ Desmond Trufant (89) who missed half the season last year and was rated as the 32nd best cornerback by PFF.
It seems like Bouye is being penalized for leaving a good team in Houston for the sorry Jags as I’m betting that his overall rating would have been much better if Watt, Clowney, etc. were rushing the QB in front of him.
6 Hunter Henry: 82
The heir apparent to Antonio Gates was the Chargers’ best tight end last season despite Gates getting the acclaim. Henry showed solid ability in the run game and extraordinary ability in the pass game. He led the Chargers in receiving touchdowns despite ranking 6th on the team in receptions. Five of Henry’s eight TDs were scored while running routes out of the slot which was the second most of any tight end in the league. Pro Football Focus also thinks highly of Henry and named him the best tight end in the NFL under the age of 25 and that also includes veterans such as Eric Ebron and Richard Rodgers. Antonio Gates is one receiving TD away from moving past Tony Gonzalez for sole possession of most TDs by a tight end in NFL history. Once he gets that record then Henry should move past Gates in the pecking order so expect Henry’s rating to rise during the in-season updates.
5 Leonard Fournette: 81
I didn’t know that Terrance West had a summer job working for EA Sports as someone who assigns RB ratings. That’s the only way I can explain why West (who plays for Baltimore if you didn’t know) received the same overall rating as Leonard Fournette. West has played for 3 teams in 3 years, has never topped 4.0 yards per carry, and has a fumbling problem; yet gets the same rating as a once-in-a-generation talent like Fournette. I know it’s always hard to project rookies but is Fournette really only 1 point better than Chris Ivory (80) who may get cut during training camp? I thought Fournette would blow the roof off on his run-power attributes but he received a below-average score for stiff arm. How can someone who delivers this kind of stiff arm only receive a 86 in that category?
4 Justin Tucker: 87
Kickers can be disgraced too! If you are the absolutely best player at your position, then you are rewarded with a 99 overall rating à la Aaron Donald and Von Miller. Well, Tucker is the best kicker in the game so why just an 87 rating? Both kickers and punters topped out in the 80s with even the best of the best not even reaching a 90. Tucker not only led the NFL in made FGs last season, but he has the highest FG% in NFL history and he has never missed an extra point in his career! As for his power, Tucker has made 28 FGs of at least 50 yards since entering the league in 2012 which is four more than any other kicker.
For some reason, Madden decided to factor in the Awareness category for a kicker’s overall rating even though kickers have only one responsibility and that is to kick. It’s arguable that tackling is more important for kickers than awareness as they are the last line of defense on kick returns.
3 Michael Thomas: 84
There is a reason the Saints traded a 23-year-old Brandin Cooks who was coming off back-to-back 1,100 yard seasons, and that reason is Michael Thomas. In Drew Brees’ 16 years in the NFL, none of his rookie receivers have ever posted as many receptions, receiving yards, or receiving touchdowns as Thomas did last season. Thomas’ rookie season was better than any season Kelvin Benjamin (85) or Sammy Watkins (86) has ever posted but he still received a worst rating. The Madden rating czar seems to be suffering from first-round bias and is docking non-first rounders a couple of points. Thomas couldn’t even crack the top 30 in terms of WR ratings and was given the same overall as a one-trick pony like John Brown. Thomas is the second coming of former Saint, Marques Colston, with more shiftiness and his rating should reflect that.
1 Eli Manning: 80
How they gonna do this to a future Hall of Famer? I bet Archie Manning never would have gotten a rating as low as 80 if Madden was around during his heyday. Peyton Manning got a 92 rating in his final season even though he had a lollypop arm at that point. I could understand if Eli was given this rating after one of his 3 seasons in which he led the NFL in interceptions, but Eazy E has a good year in 2016. He posted the second-highest completion percentage of his career and his stats actually had value as he played on a playoff team. Alex Smith (81) better than Eli?!? Smith won’t even be a starter by the end of the season and neither could Sam Bradford who was, somehow, three points better than Eli. A bitter NFC East/Patriots fan must have created these ratings…