And now for something completely different!
I’ve played EA Sports Madden games pretty much all my life, and despite them not changing much over the past 10 years or so, I still play in order to fulfill my dream of playing in the NFL. My love for the game and my precious Buffalo Bills has me waiting patiently every year to see how the Bills stack up against the rest of the league. This year, Madden actually changed the way they rated players, making the ratings a lot closer across the board, with only four players reaching the coveted 99 rating.
Long story short: it’s not good.
On the positive side, the Bills ratings leave for lots of room for improvement. They have a relatively young team (with the exception of Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy at RB) and look like a fun franchise to build upon in Franchise mode.
However, if you’re looking to win soon with the Bills, just drop that notion right now. The Bills are a team that will be good in 3-5 years, not this year. They have more weaknesses than strengths and those weaknesses might hinder the growth of some of their younger, more promising players.
Let’s go through the ratings by position, shall we?
It’s not a secret that Buffalo considers Josh Allen the second coming of Jim Kelly and they will invest in his full development as starting quarterback. But a 74 rating as a starting QB is fucking rough. This doesn’t even put Allen in the top 25 QBs in the league. Depth is a concern as well, as veteran Matt Barkley is rated the same as the undrafted rookie Tyree Jackson. This tells me that Jackson might develop into a solid #2 over the course of time and quite possibly a solid starter.
This is the position that concerns me the most. I’m an old fashioned running game kind of guy. I try to give my RBs at least 20 carries a game. Shady McCoy is still a solid running back who could be productive for 2-3 more years. Frank Gore is on his last legs, but he’s still got some pop. However, my concern is how well Yeldon and Singletary develop. Either one could be the heir apparent, with Singletary seeming to be the favorite. This is a development race I will definitely keep a close eye on.
Adding weapons for Josh Allen was a big focus in the offseason. Adding Brown and Beasley made lots of sense. But looking at these ratings, it’s not good that a guy considered a slot receiver has the highest rating. Brown will definitely be my #1 with Zay Jones being #2, but Beasley is gonna get stuck in the slot. For the way I play, that’s actually an advantage because I tend to throw a lot of 7-10 yard slants to the slot receiver, so Cole will get lots of touches. It saddens me that Robert Foster is only a 72. In my Madden 19 franchise, he’s my best receiver. Oh, how the tides change.
Another position I heavily rely on is tight end. Thankfully, Buffalo has some depth at TE, with Kroft being the obvious starter, but Smith and Croom will definitely see solid playing time. My interest is in rookie Dawson Knox. If he can improve significantly, I see him being a starter for a long time. This is also a position that I’d use for trade bait. I’d trade either Smith or Croom for a 4th round pick or so to build for the future.
One of Buffalo’s biggest question marks is whether or not the offensive line can keep Josh Allen clean and give him time to throw instead of having to rely on his feet to make plays. Based on these ratings, it’s gonna be rough in Madden 20. Dawkins is a decent choice to cover Allen’s blindside, but the right side of the line is weak. The fact that there is next to no depth on either end of the line makes this position one that free agency might help strengthen.
Looking at the guards, it makes it even more obvious that the right side of the line is the weakest. Teller starting at RG with a 70 rating is going to make running on the right side of the line tough. Thankfully, Spain giving the left side some more bulk will make it easier to run inside. Again, depth is an issue here.
The acquisition of Mitch Morse finally gives the center position some stability. Still, depth is a huge issue and Russell Bodine has lots of work to do if he wants to keep his roster spot.
I love defensive linemen. They are my favorite positions and seeing Ed Oliver with a solid rookie rating makes me happy. He will be my DT for his entire career if I have anything to say about it. I’d really like to develop Harrison Phillips, as he reminds me of Kyle Williams. I see three capable DTs here, and if injury plagues this position, I’ll have decent backups.
If I were to play in the NFL, I’d want to be a defensive end. My favorite player of all time is Bruce Smith. I’m always on the lookout for great end rushers, and Jerry Hughes fits that bill. He’s got lots of gas in the tank yet and will be a solid starter for at least another 5-7 years. I want to see more from Shaq Lawson, as I think he could be the next big defensive star. Murphy is a solid depth guy who could be put in some defensive packages, but I wouldn’t rely on him constantly.
Buffalo has always had a tradition of having a great linebacker corps over the years. Lorenzo Alexander and Matt Milano are solid starters who will probably rack up 90-110 tackles each every year. Alexander is getting a bit long in the tooth, so a replacement needs to be found within the first 2 years of the Franchise mode, but Milano has lots of upside and will become an elite LB in time.
Tremaine Edmunds is poised to become the next Ray Lewis (minus the murdering) and I’m fully behind him being the defensive signal caller. While I will rely on him pretty much every year, having a guy who can back him up would help. I’m also not happy with a 74 for him. I feel he should at least be around 78. With some luck, rookie Vosean Joseph might develop into a solid backup, or even more.
The secondary has been what the Bills have leaned on the past few years, and they’ve come up big. Tre White looks to be an All-Pro every year, but I feel that Johnson, Wallace, and Gaines deserved a little bit of a bump. Eleven points is a big gap between CB1 and CB2. Johnson and Gaines will be reliable nickel and dime backs, but they should both be around 75. I’m happy with the depth at this position though. Gaines and Johnson might also fetch 4th or 5th round picks on the trade market.
The Bills had a top 5 defense last year and seventh in interceptions, thanks to Poyer and Hyde playing their asses off. Poyer should at least be an 83. They will be workhorses though. Depth is a problem here, too. It’s not as big an issue as say, the offensive line.
Hauschka is a solid, reliable leg who will probably win the Bills a few games this season. I do hope Bojorquez can be consistent and put teams deep in the field position battle regularly. No more Musical Punters, ok?
I look forward to playing Madden 20, but developing the Bills into a yearly contender is going to take some time. Yeah, I’ll spend the money on it as I do every year. I don’t have much of a choice. I love football too much.