Each August, EA Sports releases it's annual edition of the well-known Madden franchise.
Madden has long been regarded as the best NFL video game out there, in many ways simply because it has been the only game that includes rosters of real players for a number of years now.
Each edition includes updated "ratings" for players and teams.
Each player is given an overall rating on a scale of 0—100, which is complied using more specific rankings of various skills.
Common skills include speed, acceleration, awareness, and strength, as well as specific skills for each position. For example, a cornerback is rated on his "shutdown" ability and a linebacker is rated on his "big hit" ability.
These numbers, especially for rookies, are almost entirely subjective. Real NFL statistics do not play an important role in determining ratings.
That means the developers and analysts who work for EA are the ones dishing out the ratings. That fact has led to some insulting results, in the eyes of a Broncos fan.
For starters, the Broncos received a team rating of 70. The offense alone is rated at a very respectable 88. While many fans would argue for at least a 90, 88 is acceptable.
Champ Bailey is fairly ranked second among corner backs with a 96. He is the highest-rated Bronco.
On the other end, Matt Prater is insulted with a rating of 58. The EA developers essentially gave him a big fat F as an NFL kicker.
The majority of the team is underrated across the board, but no group so much as the offensive line.
The Denver offensive line was regarded as the premier group of the NFL in 2008. Jay Cutler was sacked merely eleven times...in over 600 pass attempts.
If there was one player who absolutely held down the line, it was Ryan Clady.
Clady had an outstanding season, absolutely shutting down the likes of Julius Peppers, John Abraham, Luis Castillo, and Derrick Burgess.
For these efforts, EA rewarded him with a ranking of 88, good for 12th among left tackles.
In comparison, Joe Thomas is the top rated at the position, followed by the likes of Jordan Gross, Jason Peters, Matt Light, and Jake Long.
Although these are all very respectable linemen, quite honestly they are not on the same level as Clady.
When the camera was focused on him, fans could see the opposing lineman or linebacker attempt to bull rush Clady, be knocked back, then attempt a spin move, only to be overpowered and fall to the turf.
That is the mark of a dominant left tackle, not a B+ left tackle.
As for the rest of the offensive line, Ryan Harris receives a 73, Chris Kuper a 78, Casey Wiegmann an 87, and Ben Hamilton an 81.
No player on the offensive line is graded above B+, and Ryan Harris, one of the better right tackles in the game, has a lowly C—.
In retrospect, none of this really matters. We, as fans, know that Clady and the offensive line will continue to be the best. Matt Prater will continue to improve, and the Broncos may surprise a lot of doubters around the NFL this season.
Although they might not be the best group of guys to play as against your friends on your Xbox, they might be a great team to watch in real life.
The EA ratings do not really matter, however it would be nice for Bronco fans to be able to see their favorite players perform as they actually do when they are playing a video game.
Kind of like how Patriots fans are treated to a team ranked 92 overall that will dominate any Madden online match-up.
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