Sunday, March 25, 2012

Looking back on the 2011 NFL Draft 1st Round Ratings/Attributes (#6 - #10).

    This is the second blog in my Rookie ratings review series.  In case you missed the first blog covering picks 1 through 5, you can find it here: .  I encourage you to read the first blog, as I won't be repeating the entire introduction in this post.

    The short introduction is that I am comparing the original rookie ratings to the final rookie ratings in Madden 12.  I will be giving EA a grade on these ratings/attributes and providing some suggestions for improvement.

** Look past Overall (OVR) rating ***

Blue = increase in ratings/attributes
Red = decrease in ratings/attributes

M12 rating = Madden 12 Player Ratings

Original = First Madden 12 Rating.
Final = Final Madden 12 Rating.
Here are picks #6 through #10:

#6 Julio Jones (WR), Atlanta Falcons

    Julio Jones was the 2nd wide receiver taken in the 2011 draft and the Atlanta Falcons gave up a ton to move up in the draft to acquire him.  The Falcons traded the Browns 5 picks for Jones, those picks included the 27th, 59th, and 124th overall picks in 2011 and their 1st and 4th round picks for 2012.  To say Jones had pressure to produce early would be an understatement.  For the most part, Jones didn't disappoint and provided the Falcons with a dynamic WR to lineup opposite of superstar Roddy White.

    Jones finished the season with 54 receptions for 959 yards (17.8 YPC) and 8 touchdowns.  His 8 TD's led all rookie WR's.  He was 2nd among rookies in receiving yards and 3rd in receptions.  In total, he was ranked 24th in the NFL in receiving yards and was tied for 8th in receiving TDs.  He did all of this while missing 3 games due to a hamstring injury.  Plus, he added 7 receptions for 64 yards and 1 rush for 13 during his only playoff game against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.  

    Now let's look at the bad.  He came into the NFL with some concern about his durability and that didn't change with him missing 3 games this season.  His INJ attribute of 85 never changed, but a slight decrease going into to Madden 13 wouldn't be out of the question., gave Jones an overall grade of -0.4 (#52 out of 115 WR's) and a receiving grade of -1.6 (#65 out of 115 WR's).  So did EA ignore their most trusted source again.  He did put up some good numbers, right?  

    The thing that hurt Jones the most in his PFF grades, were his hands.  He had 8 drops during the regular season on 62 "catchable" targets for a 12.9% drop rate.  That drop rated tied Jones at #71 out of 95 WR's.  Those 95 WR's had between 24 and 135 "catchable" targets.  He ranked #37 out of 45 WR's with at least 49 "catchable" targets.  The bottom line is Julio Jones is overrated in the CTH attribute and in no way did he deserve a 4 point increase over the course of the season.  Unfortunately, EA regularly ignores drops when rating the CTH attribute.  Here is a previous blog I did addressing this very issue: .

    I give EA a "C+" for Jones' final rating/attributes   I believe his original rating is closer to reality when looking past the broken OVR formula and at the key position attributes.


#7 Aldon Smith (OLB) S.F. 49ers

    What can you say about Aldon Smith's rookie season other than "outstanding".  He terrorized opposing QB's all year and made several offensive tackles look completely over-matched.  Based on his original Madden 12 attributes, you can see that the EA ratings team was all over Smith's potential.  They gave him an elite PMV (96), elite ACC (96), elite PUR (90) and a very good BSH rating of 85.  Matched up with his 82 SPD and 78 STR, Smith was a top pass rusher in Madden 12 from day 1.

    Smith finished his rookie season tied for 5th in league with 14.0 sacks, which also led all rookies.  He had 37 total tackles (31 solo), 2 FF, 4 PDefs and one safety.  In two playoff games,  he added 2 additional sacks and 4 solo tackles.  He missed the All-time rookie sack record by half a sack.  He received the highest Pass Rush Productivity grade in the entire NFL by (based on all defenders with at least 50% of their teams pass rush snaps). The bottom line is the Niners got every thing they had hoped for out of the 7th overall pick.  Oh, did I mention he was primary used as situational pass rusher and still put up those huge numbers despite having significantly fewer snaps than other OLB's.

    So, what could possibly be wrong with Smith's final Madden 12 rating?  Well, it all goes back to having a horrible OVR formula and the fact that EA had to show fans OVR increases regardless of having realistic/accurate attributes.  Basically, since Smith was already elite is the attributes he excelled at most (with the exception of BSH), EA had to find other attributes to raise to get the OVR to increase.  The attributes they used were AWR, MCV, and ZCV.  AWR accounts for approximately 16% of an OLB's overall rating (regardless of being in a 3-4 or a 4-3 system).  MCV accounts for approximately 5% of the OVR and ZCV is at approximately 4%.  If you put MCV and ZCV together, you can see the impact 9% might have on the OVR.

    The problem with the MCV and ZCV increases is that they were only increased to raise the OVR and not because he was better in coverage than originally thought.  Let me explain.  Per PFF, Aldon Smith was on the field for 616 snaps during his rookie season, of those 370 were passing snaps.  He rushed the passer on 337 of those passing snaps, which was 91.1% of the time.  No other Linebacker rushed the passer at a higher rate.  So that leaves 35 (8.9%) passing snaps where Smith was asked to play in coverage, that is only 5.6% of ALL the snaps he played.  Of those 35 snaps, he was targeted only 4 times and gave up 2 catches for 17 yards.  Please understand, that 3-4 OLB's are not asked to play coverage very often.  Were 4-3 OLB's are asked to cover 4 to 5 times more than their 3-4 counterparts.

    How can such a small sample size result in such a large increase in coverage attributes for a player and position that is rarely asked to cover?  Answer:  the broken OVR formula.  EA uses the same formula for all OLB's, regardless of scheme (3-4 or 4-3).  Due to his dominant pass rushing ability,  fans expected an increase to Smith's OVR and EA had no choice but to raise MCV and ZCV to achieve that.  This is another example of why OVR should be used as a ranking with no connection to attributes, at least until EA can produce a formula that works.

    There should be a clear difference in how 3-4 OLB and 4-3 OLB are rated.  An accurate OVR formula would account for that.    

    I give EA a "B-" for Aldon Smith's final rating/attributes.

#8 Jake Locker (QB) Tennessee Titans

    At #8 we have the 2nd QB taken in the first round and one who many experts could not agree on when it came to his value and upside.  That said, Tennessee has been known to take a chances at the QB position (remember Vince Young).

    Unlike the previous seven draftees, Locker didn't have much impact his rookie season.  As a matter of fact, according to PFF he only dropped back to pass 76 times all season (48 QB's had more drop backs during the 2011 season).  Matt Hasselbeck started all 16 games at QB for the Titans.

    To be fair, let's look at the stats.  Locker was 34/66 (51.5%) for 542 yards, 4 TDs to 0 Ints, plus he carried the ball 8 times for 56 yards and a TD.  Was this a big enough sample size to warrant increases in any of Locker's original attributes?  I would say no.  Than again, EA gave Matt Flynn a significant increase for one good game against a horrible secondary.  Maybe, someone could convince me he deserved a slight bump in AWR due to his 4:0 TD to INT ration.  

    While Locker only completed 51.5% of his passes, he still received increases in SAC and DAC.  Remember, THA is not actually an attribute that effects OVR.  Why not just leave the attributes alone?  If this same small sample size was enough to give him increases in attributes, would it also be enough to give him decreases?  Last time I checked, 51.5% was a horrible completion percentage at any level of football.

    Locker also received a 13 point increase in CAR, despite only having 8 carries all season.  Are you kidding me?  After 8 carries can someone really justify changing the CAR, BCV, and TRK attributes?  Maybe, they just thought those attributes were incorrect to begin with.  I doubt it.

    We may never know what goes through the mind of the EA ratings staff, since no one from EA explains why they make these changes.  In fact they would rather everyone just stay focused on OVR.  Sorry, I think the OVR is garbage and will continue to encourage Madden fans to look deeper at all the attributes.  Until EA starts disclosing their rating procedures, people like me can only hypothesize their reasoning.

    I give EA a "C" for Locker's final rating/attributes.  The jury is still out on Locker.  For all we know, he could turn out to be another Vince Young for the Titans.

#9 Tyron Smith (RT) Dallas Cowboys

    At #9 we get our first offensive lineman with Tyron Smith.  Smith had a great rookie season for the Cowboys and was easily their best offensive lineman this yeare.  He started all 16 games at RT and received the 4th highest overall grade for an offensive tackle from (13.7).  PFF also rated him 13th in pass blocking and 5th in run blocking among offensive tackles.  He was selected to the All-Rookie team by Pro Football Weekly, The Sporting News, and

    Smith also showed good awareness for a rookie.  He received a positive grade for penalties with 0.1 (7 penalties on the season).  While Smith did give up 8 sacks, PFF still gave him the 11th best Pass Blocking Effeciency grade for tackles with 96.0.

    Another positive sign for Smith, was that he improved throughout the season.  He gave up 5 sacks his first 7 games and only 3 sacks the rest of the way.  As a matter of fact, 3 of his first 5 sacks were a result of his first game against the Eagles.  The next time he played the Eagles he only gave up one sack.  So half of the sacks he allowed all season came in two games against the Eagles, there is no shame in that.

    Get this.  Smith is only 21 years old and won't turn 22 until December of this year.  I think it's safe to say he still has a lot of room to improve and it shouldn't surprise anyone if he ends up making a few ALL-PRO teams along the way.

    I happily give EA an "A" for Smith's final rating/attributes.  They gave him a good ratings to start the year and he received well deserved increases.  I am looking forward to seeing the Cowboys and Eagles go at it in 2012 and will make a point to watch Smith battle it out against their fierce DE pass rush.  

#10 Blaine Gabbert (QB) Jacksonville Jaguars

    With pick  #10 with get our third QB already and easily the biggest failure in the top 10 (possible the entire first round).  Over the course of the season Gabbert was easily the worst starting QB in the NFL, yes that includes Tebow.  A statement that stands out in my mind about Gabbert, came from ESPN's Mark Schlereth.  I will summarize, but Schlereth basically said that Gabbert looked flat out scared in the pocket and was not prepared to face an NFL pass rush.  After watching a few of his games, I have to agree with Schlereth.  That said, he is not only scared, but he is just plain horrible.

    Let's look at the stats.  Gabbert started 14 of the 15 games he played.  According to statistics, Gabbert was dead last in QB rating with 65.4 (33rd out of 33 qualified quarterbacks).  He ranked 32nd in completion percentage with 50.8% (only Tim Tebow was worse).  He also ranked 32nd in passing yards per game with 147.6 (again only Tebow was worse).  Oh and let's not forget his 26.4% first down percentage and 5.4 yards per attempt, those also ranked last among qualified QBs.

    The only bright spot I can find is that Gabbert threw 12 TD's to 11 Int's, but honestly he was so bad that defenders probably couldn't catch the ball either.  Those 12 TD passes ranked him 27th the NFL.  He also fumbled the ball 14 times, 8 of those coming on 48 rushing attempts.  Just how bad is that.  Well, based on my research the average NFL QB fumbles the ball approximately 6.43% of the time when rushing, Gabbert fumbled 16.67% of the time when he rushed the ball.  That is horrible.

    Even though I think this is enough to show how Gabbert was this year, we can't forget to take a quick look at  According to PFF, 38 quarterbacks took at least 25% of their teams offensive snaps.  I will give you one guess as to who was graded dead last.  Yes, it was Gabbert, who earned an overall grade of -49.9 from PFF.  Mark Sanchez was 37th with a -27.9, a difference of 22 points.  I looked back on the last four years that PFF has been grading players and no QB has ever had an overall grade as bad as Gabbert.  Oh and let's not forget that he was last in deep accuracy with 27.8% completion on passes attempted 20 yards or more down field.  Even if you subtract Gabbert's deep passing statistics, he only completed 53.3% of his passes.

    Gabbert was viewed by some as a developmental quarterback going into the draft, so it's fair to think that he had no business starting in the NFL his first season.  Of course we can't erase the past, not matter how bad Gabbert would like to.  There really is no where for Gabbert to go, but up.  Well, maybe out of the league entirely.  

    I give EA a "D" for Gabbert's final rating/attributes.  They clearly gave him significant decreases throughout the season, but honestly he deserves even more decreases.  The most puzzling thing, is that he actually received an increase in AWR by 4 points over the course of the season.  How is that possible?  If anything it should have went below his original AWR?  That fact that he still has a SAC of 84 and a throw on the run of 80 is also disturbing.  Reality just doesn't support those attributes.

    Yes, poor Jacksonville fans didn't have many options at QB in Madden 12, but that doesn't mean Gabbert should not be accurately rated.  After signing Chad Henne this off season and attempting to get Tim Tebow in trade, Jacksonville is already trying to move on from Gabbert.  If the Jacksonville organization no longer has faith in Gabbert, why should anyone else?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Looking back on the 2011 NFL Draft 1st Round Ratings/Attributes (Top 5)

    In this blog I will look back on the top five 1st round draft picks from the 2011 NFL draft.  I have gathered all of the original Madden 12 ratings/attributes for the entire first round and compared them with the final roster update.

    You will see that many of them were poorly rated to begin with and that several of them didn't deserve the increases they received throughout the year.  You will also see that very few first rounders received decreases during the season.  I plan to post the entire 1st round over the next couple of days, so keep checking back.  Here is the link to blog #2, covering picks 6-10:

    So, what does all of this mean?

    First, it should become clear when looking at the attributes that many of these rookies were overrated to begin with.  Don't concentrate on OVR.  OVR is kept down by giving rookies poor AWR and PRC.  Many key attributes are put at an Elite level (90+) before the player ever steps on an NFL football field (this will become even more evident in future blogs).  What's worse, is that the EA ratings staff feels the need to give most of these rookies increases for no reason.  This type of player rating results in a significant amount of overrated player attributes.

EA is stuck in a rut when it comes to ratings.  They tend to reward every good game with increases.  Instead, they need to take a step back and realize that many players are already overrated and definitely not outperforming their current attributes.

    I will refer to several statistics in this blog, including EA's most trusted source  You will see that on several occasions EA completely ignores the analysis and grading of their most trusted source (PFF).  Looking back on the entire year, several rookie ratings/attributes would have been more accurate if no increases were made at all.

** Look past Overall (OVR) rating ***

That following is the complete list with my observations:

Blue = increase in ratings/attributes
Red = decrease in ratings/attributes

M12 rating = Madden 12 Player Ratings

Original = First Madden 12 Rating.
Final = Final Madden 12 Rating.

#1 Cam Newtion (QB) Carolina Panthers

    Coming out of college many experts were split on what to expect from Cam Newton.  Early on in his rookie season it appeared Newton had proven the critics wrong.  EA jumped all over this and gave him several rating increases throughout the season.  As the season went on, it appeared that some teams had slowed Newton down.  Over the last 8 games of the season, his: QB rating, Completion %, and Passing Yards per game all decreased compared to his first 8 games.

    The biggest impact on Newton's OVR increase was the 22 additional points in AWR and 11 points in MAC.  While I don't disagree with the MAC increase, I do believe his DAC was overrated all season long.  Newton has a strong arm, but a strong arm doesn't equal accuracy.  Per, Newton attempted the 2nd highest number of passes targeted 20 or more yards down field, but he was only 18th in the NFL in actual deep accuracy at 40.4% (that is counting "catchable" drops as completions).

    Using PFF's statistics I came up with a 2011 NFL average (all QB's)  for DAC which ended up being 40.87%.  Newton is just slightly below the average for NFL QB's in 2011, yet he has the 7th highest DAC rating in Madden 12 with 85.  The average DAC rating in Madden 12 is 69.2, if I was rating Newton I would give him a 72 DAC.

    That other problem I have with Newton's ratings is that he got a decrease in CAR by 1.  For a QB, Newton had the best rushing fumble percentage in 2011 at 1.59%.  He had the second lowest sack fumble percentage in 2011 with 8.57% (Tom Brady has a career 21.01% sack fumble percentage).  All together Newton only had 5 fumbles all season.  That is excellent from the QB position, especially for someone who scrambles as much as Newton does.  So an attribute that Newton excelled in all year got decreased.  Hmmm.

   Finally, let's look at how PFF graded Newtion.  His OVR QB grade was 8.3 (13th among QB's with over 25% of their team's snaps), his pass grade was -9.4 (29th), and his run grade was 18.9 (1st).  I think one could argue that EA completely ignored PFF's passing analysis when rating Newton.  I wouldn't disagree that a QB like Newton is difficult to grade, but I believe his initial passing attributes are closer to reality than his final passing attributes (just flip flop his original MAC and DAC).

    I give EA a "C" for it's finally ratings for the #1 overall pick.

#2 Von Miller (OLB) Denver Broncos

    Von Miller excelled from day one.  He finished tied for 9th in the NFL in sacks with 11.5 and added another sack in the playoffs.  His missed one game due to a thumb injury, but other than that he was consistent all year.  His split stats from games 1-8 compared with games 9-16 are very close.  AWR and PRC are responsible for the majority of his OVR increase.

    There are some questionable changes in Miller's attributes despite having a great rookie year.  His 97 INJ attribute could be decreases slightly due to missing one game.  Why did he see a 3 point increase in CTH (0 Int's on the year)?  Per PFF, Miller was 49th in the NFL for snaps in pass coverage compared to other 4-3 OLB's, but his MCV and ZCV got significant increases?  Miller received a good coverage grade, but it was based on a very small sample size and he actually had a QB rating against of 119.9 (on only 13 targets).

    The likely answer to the previous questions is that EA needed another way to raise his OVR.  This is another reason why OVR should no longer be connected to attributes, just make OVR a stand alone ranking.

    PFF has Miller as the #1 OLB in a 4-3 system, he is first by a mile.  He was 1st in pass rush and run defense for a 4-3 OLB as well.  In the end, Miller easily lived up to being the #2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

I give EA an "A-" for it's finally ratings/attributes of Von Miller.

#3 Marcell Dareus (DT) Buffalo Bills

    Marcell Dareus was everything the Bills could have hoped for.  He came in to Madden 12 tied as the highest rated rookie when it comes to OVR.  Although he performed well during the season, you can see a mix of increases and decreases in his actual attributes.

    PFF ranked Dareus as the #12 overall Defensive Tackle/Nose Tackle in 2011.  He received grade of 12.3 for his pass rushing ability which was #5 out of 88 DTs/NTs.  Against the run he received a grade of 3.3 which was 31st out of 88.  He is clearly better at rushing the passer, but he is no slouch at playing the run (tied for 6th with 31 stops).  He had a total of 42 tackles and only missed 2, yet his tackle attribute was decreased.  EA is completely confused when it comes to the TAK attribute for defensive tackles.  Per a tweet I received from PFF earlier in the year, DT's don't miss very few tackles in the NFL.  When I looked at the stats, you can see that PFF was correct.  In general, DT's should actually have some of the highest TAK attributes in Madden.  Unfortunately, EA uses the TAK attribute to manipulate OVR instead of having it based on reality.

    I have also noticed EA will lower the FMV on a DT while increasing the PMV.  This was blatantly obvious during the playoffs when they increased the PMV (+4) of Vince Wilfolk while at the same time decreasing his FMV (-6).  Again, this was done for no other reason than to keep the OVR in check.  Just another example of the horrible OVR formula at work.

   EA looks completely lost when it comes to rating Dareus and again they ignored the analysis of PFF (their most trusted source).  I give EA a "D+" for this rating.  Remember, look beyond OVR.


#4 A.J. Green (WR) Cincinnati Bengals

    A.J. Green had a great rookie year, which was capped off with a trip to the Pro Bowl.  He was one of the most talked about Madden rookies all season.  As you can see EA gave him a lot of love over the course of the season.  He is the first rookie on this list that didn't receive a decrease in any attribute when comparing his final ratings to his original ratings.

    Let's start with the good.  Green lead all rookie WR's in receiving yards with 1,057 (15th out of all NFL WR's) and receptions with 65 (23rd out of all NFL WR's).  He also scored 7 touchdowns which was 2nd among rookies (tied for 18th out of all NFL WR's).    

    Now the bad.  Green missed one game this season due to a hyper-extended knee in week 11 (vs. BALT), which should have resulted in a slight decrease to his 95 INJ attribute.  Per PFF, Green ranked 18th in drop percentage (7.14%) out of 45 WR's who participated in at least 50% of their team's offensive snaps.  He was held in check during his only playoff game against the Texans, where he finished with just 5 catches for 47 yards (9.4 YPC) and no touchdowns.

    PFF gave Green an overall grade of -1.6 which ranked 59th out of 115 WR's.  Much of that grade was a result of his poor blocking ability and penalties (led all WR's in penalties with 10).  For his receiving skills only, Green ranked 22nd out of 115 WR's with 8.6.

    No matter what numbers you look at, I don't believe Green deserved his CTH increases throughout the season.  A 95 CAT attribute is elite, he is not there yet.  I also disagree with his 11 point increase in AWR.  Leading all WR's in penalties should not result in increased AWR.  If anything the 60 AWR he was given to start the season was more accurate.  Because CTH and AWR contribute heavily to a the OVR for a WR , EA again ignored reality so they could show fans an OVR increase.  Do you see a pattern here.  The OVR formula prevents accurate ratings/attributes and the constant focus on OVR by Madden fans makes it easier for EA to not address the real problem with OVR.  They use OVR as a ranking system yet have it tied to attributes with a horrible formula.  Right now EA rates many players based on perception and fan pressure, while ignoring objective statistics.

    I give EA a "C" for Green's final player rating/attributes.  I would give them an "A" for his original ratings, since those are closer to reality after seeing a full season from Green.


#5 Patrick Peterson (CB) Arizona Cardinals

    Peterson is a perfect example of the SportsCenter Highlight rating system and another example of the broken OVR formula.  He received increases in ACC, AWR, and AGI, primarily because of his punt return ability, but those increases also resulted in a higher OVR rating at his primary position.  Remember, the RET attribute itself has no effect on OVR based on the current formula.

    The good.  Peterson was the most dangerous punt returnman in the NFL this year and returned a league leading 4 punts for TD's.  He lead the NFL in punt return yards with 699 and averaged 15.9 yards per (only Devin Hester had a better average for primary punt returners).  Peterson led all rookie corners with 64 total tackles and was tied for 2nd among rookies with 2 interceptions and 15 PDefs.

    Wow, that sounds great.  Doesn't it?  You must be thinking that I am crazy.  Now let's look at it from a different perspective and dig deeper.   PFF gave Peterson an overall grade of -12.6, which was good for 102nd out 109 CB's who participated in at least 25% of their teams defensive snaps.    He received a coverage grade of -6.6 (89th out of 109) and a penalty grade of -4.8 (102 out of 109).  Once again, EA completely ignored the grades produced by PFF.  They actually gave Peterson an increase in ZCV and PRS over the course of the season and left his MCV at a ridiculous 89 (just embarrassing).

    What if I told you that per PFF, no other CB saw more snaps this season than Peterson, with 1142 snaps (tied with Cortland Finnegan).  Oh, well that would explain the penalties.  Well, not really.  Peterson had 10 penalties called on him and Finnegan had just 4.  Stanford Routt who had just 9 fewer snaps at 1133 had 17 penalties, but on the other hand Corey Webster who had 1118 snaps only had one penalty called on him.  I could go on and on.  The fact is, the number of snaps doesn't not have a direct effect on penalties.  You might say man vs zone coverage would effect it, but that is not the case when you look at all the players at that position.  The point is that Peterson didn't show great awareness at his primary position and even with the great punt returns he should not have received an 8 point increase in AWR.

    Wait.  What about targets, he must have been targeted a ton.  Peterson was targeted 113 times in coverage which was the 5th highest total among cornerbacks in 2011.  That might explain him leading all rookie CB's in tackling (we will get back to that).   All four of the CB's (Greer, Eric Wright, J. McCourty, and Tillman) targeted more than Peterson in 2011 gave up fewer yards, a lower average per catch, and a lower QB rating against, plus fewer penalties than Peterson.  Those same four CB's had more Pdef's as well.  Yes, but those four guys are established veterans.  (Playing Devil's Advocate).  Ok, let's compare Peterson to a fellow rookie.  Hell, this rookie is even from the same division.

Richard Sherman of the Seahawks, a 5th round pick out of Stanford had to prove he deserved increases every week, while Peterson received a pass.  Let's compare the two CB's in the chart below:

    Sherman performed better than Peterson in every major category, despite having few snaps and targets.  Sherman gave up fewer yards as well, but that would be expected since he had 29 fewer targets.

    It's no secret I am a Seahawk fan, but these numbers don't lie no matter what team you are a fan of.  Sherman finished the season ranked 15th overall for cornerbacks by PFF and was graded 4th in coverage behind only Revis, Webb, and Grimes.  Sherman did receive increases as the season progressed and it's not like EA was the only one to miss on him (several NFL teams did as well, round after round), but he had to dig out of a huge ratings hole.  That said, after an entire NFL season of statistics and film for both players, Sherman is still rated lower than Peterson in every position attribute except AWR (tied at 68) and JMP (95 to 94).  The #1 thing Sherman had going against him was that he was drafted too late in 2011.

    Just imagine if Peterson produced like Sherman, how overrated would he be by now.  Weekly roster updates should be an opportunity to correct inaccuracies in the ratings/attributes for ALL players, EA continues to show that is not the case.  EA reluctantly gives increases to lower draft picks who actually play well in the NFL, and they give a pass to higher draft picks who don't play well.

**  The reason I spent so much time on Patrick Peterson, is that he is a great example of EA overrating rookies to start the season and in this case completely ignoring the obvious as the season progresses.  By the way, Peterson was not perfect on punt returns either.  He fumbled 3 times on 44 returns for a fumble rate of 6.81% (the punt return fumble rate for the entire NFL in 2011 was 5.9%).  He also fumble once on a rushing attempt.  So he actually fumbled 4 times on 47 touches (returns, INT's, and rush attempts) for an 8.51% fumble rate.  Of course, those fumbles were ignored as well and Peterson actually received an increase in CAR from 70 to 71 over the course of the season.

    I give EA an "D-" for Peterson's final rating/attributes.

Final thoughts:

At what point should draft position no longer matter in Madden ratings/attributes?

Shouldn't a full season in the NFL give you a better idea of how to rate a player in Madden Football?  College analysis and draft position should only be a guide prior to a player gaining NFL experience.

Stay tuned for more blogs looking back at the first round of the 2011 draft.  The plan is to do the entire round.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Attribute Spotlight - QB Deep Accuracy (DAC)

    Let's talk about NFL/Madden quarterbacks.  Everyone loves the deep ball in Madden and in the NFL.   What you will see in this blog is that the Madden attribute for deep accuracy (DAC) is WAY off for some QB's and basically neglected for others.  To be honest, some of the DAC attributes are accurate based on my research, but I believe this to be mostly a coincidence since the other numbers make no sense and don't appear to be based on anything other than general perception.  Perception may play a role in more subjective attributes like spectaclar catch (SPC), but it should have very little to no impact on a more objective attribute like DAC.

    I believe that with more accurate DAC attributes in Madden, the gamer will have a more true to life experience.  Can't DAC in Madden be based off of statistics?  I believe it can and should be based off of statistics.

    I had to educate myself on the deep accuracy (DAC) of NFL QB's before I could provide any credible analysis.  The only place I could find that provides deep accuracy statistics for the NFL is They have only been providing this statistic for the last 4 seasons, so that is what I had to work with.  PFF defines a deep pass as a targeted pass of 20 yards or more.  For computing the deep accuracy of the QB's, PFF included attempts, completions, and drops of 20 yards or more.  You may ask why drops?  I actually like it.  PFF defines a drop as a "catchable" pass and they apply the same rules to all players equally.  By having drops included in the deep accuracy completion percentage, the QB doesn't get penalized for having poor receivers.  All the QB's are graded equally and for that reason I believe the deep accuracy statistics on to be very credible.

   PFF has their statistics broken down by season for each player, but DOES NOT compile averages for the League as a whole, they just go by individuals.  And while they have four seasons worth of statistics, they don't supply 3 or 4 years averages.  So, I caculated the deep accuracy of all NFL QB's to come up with yearly totals for the entire league, as well as 3 and 4 year averages.  By doing this, I can compare each QB to the NFL average to see how each individual stacks up before assigning the DAC attribute ratings.

    Please note that I only used QB statistics for the NFL totals, I excluded any passes made by other position players such as:  RB, WR, TE, FB, K, or P.  This way QB's are only rated against other NFL QB's.

    Here are the NFL totals for each of the last four seasons, plus the 3 and 4 year averages:

    You can see here that there has been a gradual trend upward since 2009 in deep accuracy completion percentage, but when you go back to 2008 it's very close to what we see in 2011.  Even though we only have four seasons of deep accuracy statistics, I believe you can still determine a benchmark.  For Madden attribute ratings, I like looking at the big picture.  For that reason, I give more weight to the last three years than the current season.

    In Madden 12, there are 125 Real NFL QB's (there are an additional 8 fake QB's that are EA employees and one U. S. Marine female who won a contest).  The average DAC of the real QB's in Madden 12 is 69.  Know that the QB's with lower OVR's tend to have poor deep accuracy regardless of reality and that brings down the overall average.  While 69 is close to what I came up with (73), I believe it's a little too low to be used as benchmark average.  The DAC attribute range in Madden 12 is 47 to 96.  The most frequently assigned (mode) DAC rating is 66 (9 times).

    The following table shows some of the Madden 12 QB's and their current DAC attribute ratings.  I selected both popular and unpopular QB's for this table.  Each QB was compared to the NFL average for that column.  In the end I came up with my suggested DAC attribute ratings for each of these QB's.

Blue = Better than the NFL average.

Red = Worse than the NFL average

M12 DAC = This is the current DAC attribute rating as of the final roster update in Madden 12.

** Please remember per ProFootballFocus, deep passing statistics are "derived from passing attempts targeted 20 yards or more downfield."

This table is sorted by highest deep accuracy from 2009 to 2011:

 My observations:

- Notice both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and below the league average for the last 3 seasons and Brady is actually below the average for the last 4 seasons.  Both of them have missed a season in the last four years as well.  Yes, it's very strange that Manning and Brady have the exact same numbers over the last three years, but I triple checked it and it's true.

- I came up with a 73 Deep Accuracy rating for the average QB when looking at the last 3 to 4 years in the NFL.  Both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady should be closer to the average, instead they have been overrated in the game due to general perception.

- Tim Tebow is flat out horrible, but due to TebowMania he is also vastly over rated.  He currently has an 80 DAC, I would rate him a 65.

- Carson Palmer was above average this year, but he is vastly overrated when you look at the entire picture.  Even if I rated him only on this season he would have been a 79 or 80 in DAC, not his current 86.  When looking at the entire picture, I rated him a 69.  The general perception is that Palmer has a very strong arm and is a great deep passer.  Well, his arm may be strong, but his accuracy is nothing special.

- In no way should Eli Manning have the highest DAC in Madden 12.  While Eli is good, I have him at an 88.  During the NFL playoffs, Eli's DAC attribute went up 10 points.  Now let's take a look at his playoff numbers for passes targeted 20 yards or more downfield:

14 attempts, 6 completions, 0 drops, for a completion percentage of 42.9%.

That percentage is lower than his 2011 regular season statistics and his three and four year averages.  I am sorry, but the ratings folks should be embarrassed by his current DAC attribute.  It's simply not based on reality, regular season or post season.  While he completed some big passes in the playoffs, that shouldn't be a reason to increase his DAC 10 points.  Isn't Eli's "clutch" trait suppose to effect those big-time passes during crucial situations?

- I think it's clear that the best deep passer in NFL is Drew Brees.  He has been very consistent over the last four seasons, but doesn't appear to get the credit in his DAC attribute.  While an 87 is good, I gave him  the highest DAC with a 95.  Again, I put more weight into consistency over the last three to four years.

- While Aaron Rodgers was better than Brees in 2011, he has never come close to that number in the past.  I gave Rodgers a 90, which is the second highest DAC that I gave out.  If Rodgers' proves that 2011 was not a total outlier, than his DAC will increase in future Madden titles.

- Matt Schuab ended up with an 88 because of his slight regression this year before he was hurt.  Based on his last 3 to 4 years he is very underrated in DAC and earned the increase from 79 to 88.

- What about incoming Rookie QB's?  How should their DAC be determined?  As with all rookies, the college statistics are not as good or as in depth as the NFL statistics.  This is when a ratings team would have to get together to look over all of the predraft analysis and scouting reports before assigning the DAC attribute ratings.  A ratings team could then come to a consensus on what the the DAC rating for that player should be.  I think the DAC rating for rookie QB's should be conservative to begin with, but can be tracked throughout the season.  Rookies might require a little more adjustment than a veteran as they accumulate more NFL statistics.  By the end of the season if they started a significant number of games, the ratings team would have a better idea of how the rookie performs on the NFL level.

Example - Blaine Gabbert, 2011 Deep Accuracy Rookie Stats:

                36 attempts, 9 completions, 1 drop, for 27.8%.

    That is absolutely horrible.  I would assign Gabbert 51 DAC attribute rating at the end of the year.  Over the next couple of seasons he could drastically improve that as he accumulates more (better) stats.

- What about backup QB's with little experience?  Most of them would have there rookie ratings still.  You could also use what statistics they have accumulated to fine tune the DAC with the ratings team.  Veteran backups who use to be starters will have data to go off of.  Regression will show in those numbers as well as the fact that they are no longer considered a NFL starting caliber QB, such as McNabb.  McNabb was at 28.6% in 2011 until he was benched.  His three previous seasons were: 38.3% (10'), 43.5% (09'), and 39.7% (08').  He was only above the NFL average once over the last for years and is showing clear signs of regression.  His DAC should reflect that regression, by using statistics and discussion with the ratings team.  I would give him a 69 DAC attribute going into Madden 13.  

Final Remarks:

  In general I don't think a QB's deep accuracy should change much during a season, definitely not the amount we saw with Eli's increase during the playoffs.  This goes back to having a broken OVR formula.  Because DAC is the 5th most important attribute when it comes to the QB's OVR, it's often used to increase or decrease the OVR instead of representing reality.

    If EA Madden Football wants to be true to the real NFL game, than statistics such as deep throwing accuracy should be utilized when assigning attribute ratings.  Having more accurate player attributes will produce more realistic gameplay, while rewarding gamers for utilizing the player strengths not their weaknesses.  The underrated QB's like Schuab would become more effective in the deep passing game just like in real life.  The overrated QB's like Brady and Manning would be a little less effective in the deep passing game, just like real life.

    It's time to get rid of the OVR formula and make it a stand alone number or ranking.  It's time for statistics to play a larger role in attributes that are more objective.  The DAC attribute should be almost entirely objective, with a little subjectively in the fine tuning.  Subjectivity and perception SHOULD NOT be the biggest factor in this attribute.

    Stay tuned for more suggestions and projections on Madden 13 player ratings and attributes.  Follow me on twitter @mannmicj to receive updates on my newest blog posts.