While the preseason tries its best, nothing gets football-starved fans through the final weeks of the offseason quite like the release of the newest edition of Madden.
Player ratings are out, and they create plenty of talking points and argument fuel for those looking to get their hands on anything pigskin related. While many players light up the scoreboards with touchdowns in Madden, the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks made sure that defense was in this year.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the defensive playmakers who will be most enjoyable to use in this year’s version. Before the entire Pacific Northwest gets mad, let it be known that we are spreading the love away from cover man Richard Sherman because we could have honestly just put the whole Seahawks secondary on here and been done with it.
Let’s spread the love and let someone else have some of the fun this time.
*Ratings courtesy of EA Sports’ official Madden website.
FS Earl Thomas III, Seattle Seahawks
95 Overall, 93 Speed, 93 Agility, 94 Zone Coverage, 82 Man Coverage, 87 Pursuit, 79 Tackle
The term "video-game numbers" is used to describe offensive explosions, so you are going to need an effective safety who can do a little bit of everything to neutralize that.
Thomas can hang with the best tight ends in the league with those speed and man coverage marks, his zone coverage ranking is off the chart and his pursuit and tackle numbers mean he can come up and stuff the run or even mix in the occasional safety blitz.
He may not lay the lumber quite like his fellow Legion of Boom teammate Kam Chancellor, but nobody really does.
What’s more, mobile quarterbacks will have a difficult time getting the edge in the open field if Thomas is anywhere in the picture. Again, that speed, pursuit and tackle combination is just too much to overcome. Simply put, he has no weaknesses in his game.
Playing with a safety without a weakness counts as enjoyable, right?
CB Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
93 Overall, 98 Speed, 97 Agility, 97 Acceleration, 94 Juke, 97 Return, 82 Catch
While the world rightly fawns over Sherman, don’t overlook Peterson when it comes to corners.
Madden Ratings Czar Donny Moore discussed Peterson’s appeal in the virtual world:
Peterson is a triple threat as a defender, returner, and even a wide receiver on occasion. He has the top ratings at CB in these physical ratings: 98 SPD/97AGI/97ACC. He also has 94 ELUS, 94 JUKE, 97 Return, and 82 Catch that really highlight his all-around game.
As long as we are still on the Sherman and Peterson discussion, look what an anonymous general manager told CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco:
See how he does when he doesn't have a push. In that defense, they don't ask him to play a lot of man. He's more of a one-dimensional player. He's very good at what they ask them to do. Sherman's big and long, so that helps. He's good, but Peterson is better.
We aren’t here to declare the best cornerback, though. Of far more interest for the current exercise is the fact that Peterson will be incredibly enjoyable to use in Madden 15.
First of all, you will rack up plenty of interceptions with Peterson's speed and catch ratings and neutralize your opponent’s best wide receiver in the process. Is there a better feeling in the world when it comes to virtual football than forcing your friend to throw the controller across the room because he or she can’t complete a deep route?
Even with the pass defense, the return game is what puts Peterson over the top. He can change the game with a single punt or kick return in a way that no other defensive player can.
DE Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams
97 Overall, 84 Speed, 95 Acceleration, 97 Power Moves
Robert Quinn is ranked first among right ends in speed, acceleration and power moves. Simply put, he is a dominant force who will help you rack up sacks throughout the game (and you’re going to need them if you try to move the ball with Sam Bradford).
Quinn was a breakout superstar last year for the St. Louis Rams and finished with 57 tackles, 19 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. It was good enough to land him All-Pro honors and a downright scary ranking in the latest edition of Madden.
What’s more, he’s only 24 years old, so he could very well be getting better. Coach Jeff Fischer suggested as much, via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com:
Pass rushing is an art and you can get better at it. You can anticipate, you can get better with counter moves, get better on each opponent. He's taking a lot of time, studying, and I think he knows how to approach each opponent week in and week out, he understands the system very well. One would think he'd probably have better numbers than he did last year.
While that may be good news for Rams fans, Madden players are more interested in his speed and power combination. He can single-handedly wreck an offensive game plan by accelerating past the offensive tackle on the outside for a sack or powering through the middle to stuff the run.
Defensive ends may not be the most glamorous players on the field, but it sure is enjoyable to rack up sacks in Madden.
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