If there’s anything many football fans love more than NFL football during the regular season and playoffs, it’s Madden football year round!
Here in Bangkok, a good friend of mine at work is an Australian who talks to me almost every morning about NFL football (when we’re actually in the office and not working from home). He’s pretty knowledgeable about the game and intensely interested in it. When he first started talking to me about it 5 or 6 years ago, I asked him how he had become interested in the game. He told me that he’d gotten hooked playing Madden. Despite growing up with no awareness of the actual sport in Oz, the video game got him hooked and also got him interested in how and why offenses and defenses work. Every year, he eagerly awaits the newest iteration of Madden, and rushes to buy it the moment it’s available.
This seems fair to suggest that the growing popularity the game is enjoying in England may have had its genesis in part due to the impact of Madden NFL in the U.K. dating back many years. The interest in the NFL has spiked in recent years. When Odell Beckham Jr. visited the country in the offseason a few years ago, he was greeted by huge crowds of fans wherever he went. His appearance on the Madden cover in 2015 (Madden NFL 16) probably wasn’t incidental to his status as a worldwide sports celebrity.
Aside from the release of the game itself, the two most anticipated parts of the game are the annual announcement of which player or players will appear on the cover, and the unveiling of player Madden ratings. It’s not just fans who care. Players themselves are well aware of their ratings, and either take offense or feel validated by the scores.
EA Sports, the company behind Madden NFL, takes the ratings very seriously. They send professional evaluators to games to scout the players and refine the ratings.
We already know who is on the cover of Madden NFL 22, scheduled for release on August 20th. It was announced several weeks ago that both Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, the quarterbacks of the Buccaneers and Chiefs respectively, would appear together, each making his 2nd cover appearance on a Madden game.
Soon, we’ll find out the player ratings for the newest version of the Madden game. The Washington Football Team recently asked some of the players returning from last year’s roster to predict their new Madden scores. Each of them was understandably quite bullish.
Some of the guys predict their @EAMaddenNFL 22 ratings...— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) July 24, 2021
...and are prepared to call up @ochocinco for any immediate adjustments pic.twitter.com/EbRGTHgYXD
Tight end Logan Thomas
First up was tight end Logan Thomas, who proclaimed that his Madden rating “has to go up” from last year’s 63 rating. What number does he think it should be? Well, he wears No. 82 on his jersey and seemed to think that was a good rating for him after his breakout season in 2020.
Prior to joining the WFT, Logan Thomas had accumulated just 35 receptions for 317 yards in his entire career. He more than doubled both of those numbers in a single season in 2020, hauling in 72 catches for 670 yards. Despite that excellent year in which Thomas ranked 9th in touchdowns, 7th in receiving yards, and 3rd in receptions among NFL tight ends, PFF ranked Washington’s starting tight end at No. 14 in their preview of the top-32 tight ends in the NFL this month. Clearly, Thomas is looking for more respect from the Madden rating team.
Defensive end Montez Sweat
Sweat laughed when the question was put to him. Like Thomas, Sweat insisted that the new rating should “definitely be bigger” than it was in the Madden NFL 21 version. Sweat didn’t go on record with the rating he felt he deserves, but if Logan Thomas’ jersey number seemed like the right rating for him, perhaps Sweat’s No. 90 is where he belongs.
Opposing QBs when they see Montez Sweat:— NFL (@NFL) July 8, 2021
Watch out for him in 2021. @_sweat9 pic.twitter.com/QChcpUuzIX
Statistically, Sweat proved to be the most productive DE on the Football Team in the 2020 season. He led the team in batted passes, hurries, hits and sacks. He forced two fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown against the division rival Dallas Cowboys. PFF gave him an 87.0 grade on run defense and a 77.5 on pass rush. Both grades were higher than Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young, who played on the other end of Washington’s defensive line. If the Madden scouts recognize his talent, Montez Sweat may be laughing for a different reason soon.
Defensive End Chase Young
Young wears No. 99, but he didn’t claim that as his deserved Madden rating, instead, opting for Sweat’s number. “Ninety or above” was Chase Young’s prediction, given with a wry smile and a shrug of the shoulders.
During the 2020 season, Young tallied 32 tackles, 12 assists, 7.5 sacks, 4 passes defended, 12 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries, including one that was returned for a touchdown. He was also named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
“Ninety or above”?
Sounds about right.
Wide Receiver Terry McLaurin
Washington’s number one receiver answered pretty quickly with, “no lower than 88”, then immediately upped the ante. “If you’re asking me, I should say a 90. A 90 is solid,” McLaurin said as he contemplated his accomplishments to date. “Going into my third year, I ain’t gonna say I done did it all, but I feel like I’ve earned a 90 up until this point.”
It’s hard to disagree with Terry’s assessment. He’s put up over 2,000 yards in his first two seasons without much help. Catching passes from 7 different quarterbacks, including Colt McCoy, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke, Terry has been one of the league’s best.
Plenty of NFL fans have been jumping on the Terry bandwagon this offseason. PFF has him ranked 17th on their list of top fantasy wide receivers (probably moving up to 16th with the news of surgery for the Saints WR Michael Thomas). Sporting News is even more bullish on McLaurin, ranking him at 11th on their list of top fantasy wide receivers.
Related article: Chad Johnson is on the Terry bandwagon
Showing a sense of humor, McLaurin added with an impish smile, “If they see that I’m a 90, I feel like that’s fair. If not, I’m gonna be calling up Chad Ochocinco and talking about how we get that adjusted immediately.”
The confidence of these young veterans who are mostly still playing on their rookie contracts reflects the new attitude prevalent among Washington players in the RivEra of football.
These guys believe in themselves, and I think that by the end of the coming season, they will have made believers of everyone else as well.