Madden '11 Breakdown: Baltimore Ravens, the Good and the Bad
When I got my hands on the Madden ratings for the Baltimore Ravens, my hometown team, all I thought was one thing—it's about time.
After years of being underrated by the Madden franchise, despite multiple trips to the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens FINALLY seem to have come out OK in the biggest annual video game franchise ever.
Since EA overall did a great job... here is a list of five players Madden got right.
Of course, there's also a list of five Ravens that are horribly underrated.
Good Grade No. 1: QB Joe Flacco
Hallelujah, the Ravens have a strongly rated QB in a video game for the first time since Vinny Testaverde in QB Club '98.
Flacco was dreadfully underrated entering his second year (yet somehow Mark Sanchez got about the same grade and a even higher throw accuracy rating entering this year as Flacco did entering last year... despite Sanchez's 20 interceptions).
Flacco is 87 overall, the same as Bengals QB Carson Palmer and one overall behind Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Annoyingly, he still has an accuracy of only 83, one better than Sanchez.
And, now I can actually run a passing offense with my hometown team.
Good Grade No. 2: OG Ben Grubbs
Grubbs has gotten better on Baltimore's interior line every year, and to their credit EA has consistently ranked him higher every year. This year, he is one of those elite linemen with a 94 overall rating.
His best attribute?
A whopping 94 score for his run blocking, to go with 94 strength. The guy is a road-grader, which reflects the many, many times the Ravens ran behind him last year for big gains.
Well done here by EA to give a good grade to a guy even without a giant reputation.
Good Grade No. 3: RB Ray Rice
I'm not particularly surprised by this, considering all the hype he's gotten, but Ray Rice is deservedly one of the Ravens' top players and is a really viable playmaker for just about any team.
The beef I have with Rice's rating?
His obnoxiously low speed rating of 89. However, he did get 97 acceleration and 96 agility to go with 92 elusiveness and 95 ball carrier vision, so it's easy to see that his accomplishments have been recognized otherwise.
Still, 89 speed? Come on, EA. Didn't you see that long run against the Patriots?
I'm really nitpicking, though. 90 overall is a nice mark for such a young player.
Good Grade No. 4: OT Michael Oher
It's not too often in Madden that you see a second-year player get a rating of 89 overall, but that is exactly what has happened with Mr. Blind Side himself, Michael Oher.
The game reflects that Oher had a fantastic rookie season on the right side, and ranks him so highly despite the decision by Ravens' brass to move him to his more natural left tackle position. His pass blocking, 87, leaves a lot to be desired, but his run blocking is even better than Grubbs at 96.
Basically, if you're going to do some power running with Baltimore, run it behind Grubbs and Oher to the left, which, if you look at film, is usually where the Ravens went last year. More great work by EA here.
Good Grade No. 5: WR Derrick Mason
Yeah, I know, strange to be pegging Mason as the fifth guy, but not too many teams have their second receiver with an overall rating of 85, much less at 36-years-old. Mason's physical numbers aren't that good because of his age. For instance, he has a relatively weak 85 speed.
However, his experience attributes (97 route running chief among them) are off the charts, and with a 91 catch rating, a lot of players will still be looking for Mason on the slants and curls. He can cause some matchup problems if used correctly against an AI second corner.
He's an obvious choice, and it's nice to see him get such a high rating even at such an advanced age.
Bad Grade No. 1: CB Lardarius Webb
Now comes the fun part... bashing the ratings.
As much fun as praising the ratings can be (example: 45 overall for Frank Walker last year was WAY TOO HIGH by about 44 overall), bashing them is a long standing tradition when people argue in favor of their players, whoever they are.
There is only one Raven's player rating I legitimately could not understand.
CB Lardarius Webb.
Like, what the hell, man. I could understand if you underrated him a little bit coming off of the ACL injury, but that isn't what they did, not at all.
His speed is about accurate (93) and his stamina is OK (88, which is again accurate, after he tired himself out on those many great kick returns last year). His other physical attributes remain good.
The problem? His 74 overall rating comes from a pathetic 45 awareness rating. Come on! The kid got much, much better as the season went on and was really playing fantastically before he went down with a torn ACL in week 15.
Word is that his rehab is going exceptionally, well, too.
I could understand if they'd reduced him across the board for coming off the injury. But 45 awareness? Come on, that's serious BS right there. I'm not saying it should be 90, but it should easily be in the low to mid 60s.
Bad Grade No. 2: OT Jared Gaither
Yes, I know he's causing some ruckus this offseason about his contract, but the fact of the matter is that Jared Gaither is a sought after tackle.
Nobody wanted to give up a first round pick in such a deep draft, and the Ravens wouldn't part with him for less... but where there was smoke you can be assured there was fire in this case.
Gaither gets an acceptable 86 overall rating, but really should be more along the lines of Oher's 89 as the more established pro. There isn't one rating that stands out as being unusually weak... but he really should be a bit higher. Seems like they docked him a few points in multiple places where I wouldn't have done so.
Bad Grade No. 3: QB Troy Smith
I know he hasn't played a down in the NFL, but at a certain point you start to wonder... how can you give a former Heisman Trophy winner who has played pretty well in rare opportunities such a weak rating?
In reality, this doesn't matter too much unless you play the Ravens in franchise mode (and if you do that you'll probably have them sign new acquisition Marc Bulger, who isn't listed as a member of the Ravens).
Still, the fact remains... Smith's overall is a weak 67.
He has a basically unusable throw accuracy of 65. Dear EA: what do you have against Ravens QBs?
Oh, right, they are Ravens QBs... they almost suck by definition. My bad.
Bad Grade No. 4: WR Donte Stallworth
Despite the fact that Stallworth is on this list, he's still very much worth using in Madden '11. Why? His 94 speed rating that will leave most teams' 3rd cornerbacks in the dust. However, you should literally have him run go routes basically all day because in this version... he can't catch.
Stallworth was given a weak 72 catch rating, to go with an overall rating of 68... well below Mark Clayton's overall rating of 76. You'd think that a team's clear-cut 3rd receiver would be rated higher than a team's (maybe not even) 4th receiver.
He might be getting docked because of his off-field baggage, but come on... he's better than Mark Clayton, that's why they signed him.
Bad Grade No. 5: K Billy Cundiff
Another one that shouldn't matter too much.
It's a proven fact that in Madden a kicker with 99 kick power and 60 kick accuracy is preferable to a player with 90 kick power and 99 kick accuracy, and Cundiff has a 92 kick power rating.
When human controlled the kick accuracy rating basically doesn't matter, so the Ravens are okay at the kicker position. However... the 81 kick accuracy rating is some major BS. Cundiff really stabilized the kicker position for the Ravens. He wasn't Matt Stover, to be sure, but then, after years with one of the top kickers in league history Baltimore fans were bound to be spoiled.
Cundiff really should be much higher, especially considering that he made a couple of big pressure kicks.
Then again, in franchise mode you'll just have the Ravens sign Shayne Graham, so I guess it doesn't matter there either.
In summation, I think the Ravens got pretty good grades on the whole, a welcome change from years past, and that with the exception of Webb there were no tremendously important missed ratings (unlike last year where the team was 82 overall despite coming off a trip to the AFC championship).
Thanks for reading. Criticism and arguments are welcome!