EA Sports' Madden NFL 25 had its wide release on Tuesday, and one of the most interesting things to do when scanning all 32 NFL rosters is comparing the overall ratings of each starting quarterback.
With so many attributes to take into account and the level of subjectivity involved in assessing those characteristics, there were bound to be surprises as to how the signal-callers stack up.
In the following instances, the most dubious ratings seemed to be a bit generous with regard to individual achievement, consistency and maintenance of greatness in comparison to their peers.
One former No. 1 overall pick was slightly snubbed with a lackluster year despite supreme arm talent, while another somehow garnered the same rating.
Below is a look at some of the more surprising overall quarterback ratings in the new version of this incredibly successful video game franchise.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (86 overall)
The West Coast offense that head coach and play-caller Marc Trestman brings to Chicago should help cater to Cutler's strengths and get the ball out of his hands more quickly. That should be nice, since the QB has taken some serious pounding in recent years behind a lackluster offensive line.
However, until Cutler becomes more consistent and puts up truly stellar numbers, his rating shouldn't be quite at this level.
To put it into context, he is only one point lower overall than Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub, who has a somewhat similar pedigree, except that he actually led the league in passing yards once with 4,770 in 2009.
That's something Cutler has not ever done. Both have had their share of health setbacks, but Schaub has three 4,000-yard seasons, each within the past four years. Meanwhile, Cutler's 2008 campaign was the only time he reached that milestone.
For a quarterback with 86 short throwing accuracy in an offense so reliant on those timing throws, along with a completion percentage of approximately 58 over the past two regular seasons, it's hard to justify Cutler this high up absent more consistency and sheer production.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (85 overall)
This is rather head-scratching, because Bradford really hasn't done a lot in his first three seasons as a pro. No playoff appearances, no winning seasons and no truly mind-boggling statistics.
Yet here Bradford is, holding the company of more proven commodities mostly based on his potential rather than what he's done to date.
Granted, that has to be taken into account, especially in the initial ratings when creators are attempting to project how a player will do in the impending NFL season. In Bradford's case, though, it seems like the virtual reality facilitators are giving him artificial merit.
The supporting cast has changed. Dynamic receiving weapon Tavon Austin was drafted in the first round, but Danny Amendola is no longer with the team as Bradford's go-to target.
Additionally, the Rams' No. 1 running back is Daryl Richardson—quite a drop-off from Steven Jackson it would seem. Richardson is a 74 in Madden 25, and Jackson, now with the Atlanta Falcons, is rocking an 89.
Tight end Jared Cook provides a great new weapon to stretch the field, but the notion that the pieces around Bradford will translate to a massive leap in Year 4 seems questionable at best.
Bradford had his best overall year in 2012, but sports career numbers of 6.26 yards per attempt, a 58.3 completion percentage and a QBR of 42.3—considered "below average" since it's south of 50.
An 85 Madden rating seems substantially better than average. It's even superior to Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman (82) and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers (84)—both of whom have been Pro Bowlers, unlike Bradford.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (85 overall)
Even with the best receiver to throw to in the game in Calvin Johnson, the best Stafford can do here is at the level of Bradford?
Stafford has an absolute rifle for a right arm, but admittedly does get sloppy with his mechanics at times. It's difficult to blame him because he didn't have much of a running game to speak of, nor a consistent defense to help him out.
That led to a whopping 727 pass attempts in 2012, and in many come-from-behind scenarios when that dimension was the only option, it's easy to see why he struggled after breaking out the previous year.
A 99 rating in throwing power keeps Stafford respectable, but the 77 awareness rating seems a bit disrespectful, as does his accuracy on short and intermediate throws at 85 and 78 respectively.
Reggie Bush now occupies the backfield and is also a dangerous pass-catching threat, which will allow Stafford to enhance his performance from a season ago.