Is Jay Cutler a star?
That depends on whom you ask. For the sake of this conversation we're about to have about high-profile players due for a ratings decline in Madden 16, let's give him the benefit of the doubt.
When the game is released, Cutler will be rated a modest 79 overall, but that number will drop in the first few weeks of the season. Chicago Bears fans are cringing at that proclamation, but here's why Cutler will struggle early in the season and perhaps beyond.
The Bears traded their best receiver in Brandon Marshall and that will impact the offense on a whole. Rookie Kevin White was supposed to fill his spot, but he is battling shin splints and could miss the first six weeks of the season, per the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, via Around the NFL.
ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson tweeted about Cutler's struggles early in training camp:
When you combine those facts with Cutler's penchant for throwing interceptions (tied for most in the NFL in 2014 with 18) and that he's taking on a new offense this year, the Bears quarterback could be as low as 75 overall by Week 4.
You may not realize it, but the Detroit Lions' Ezekiel Ansah is rated an 88 overall. That rating could be on the way down. Many could call him a little overrated considering he had just 7.5 sacks last season. Without the benefit of playing on the same defensive line as the departed Ndamukong Suh, Ansah will be one of the Lions who gets the bulk of opposing teams' attention.
Haloti Ngata is an above-average defensive tackle, but he doesn't have the impact or draw the attention that Suh did.
According to ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein, Ansah has big goals for the season, but there's no reason to believe he'll see his sack total soar:
Ansah has yet to show that he's capable of being an elite defensive end on a stellar front four. Asking him to lead a unit might be looking for too much.
By the end of the season, Ansah's overall rating will be closer to an 82 overall.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Without question, the game's cover athlete had a fantastic rookie season, but his 94 overall rating might be a bit too high. In 12 games, Beckham Jr. had 91 receptions, 12 touchdowns and 1,305 yards. While teams did begin to realize how dynamic Beckham Jr. can be, he'll get the full attention of defensive coordinators this season.
Even with Victor Cruz returning from injury, Beckham Jr. will be looking to build on his big rookie season. Cruz and Beckham have similar playing styles and one has to wonder if sharing big-play opportunities will impact Beckham Jr.'s stats.
Couple that with defensive game plans that will be geared toward slowing him down and we can expect to see a drop-off in Beckham Jr.'s ratings.
Madden ratings per EASports.com.
Follow Brian Mazique on Twitter: