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Overview of Madden Teams - Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are another team who has gone from possible super bowl contenders down to scratching and clawing their way simply to finish with a winning record. This team has talent (there is no doubt about that), but their roster depth comes into question at many positions, and they are not the same team they used to be.
Quarterback - Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback, and he knows he can make all the throws he needs to make in this league. With 89 throw power, 87 short accuracy, and 89 medium accuracy, Ryan can throw darts all over the field. He can even toss those rainbow-like passes deep, with a 90 accuracy in that area. All of this coupled with decent mobility (66 speed, 65 agility) makes Ryan close to a top 5 passer in the game. TJ Yates and Sean Renfree are solid backups, the former leading his old team (the Houston Texans) to their first ever playoff victory a few seasons back. The latter has the potential to become a franchise quarterback in his own right. Renfree is only 24 years old, yet has 84 throw power, 82 short accuracy, 83 medium accuracy, and 73 speed in madden. Standing at 6'5", this man has a bright future ahead of him, and anyone who trades for him (in franchise mode or real life) would be getting a steal at the quarterback position.
Running Back - Steven Jackson is the 10 year veteran of the group, but it is highly suggested that he is regulated to being a change of pace and short yardage/goal line back. Jackson doesn't have to worry about losing the ball (98 carrying) and he simply smashes his way through defenders (86 trucking). Jacquizz Rodgers is in my opinion the best back on this roster. Rodgers has enough speed (86), good agility (91), decent trucking (78), and good carrying (84). In other words, Rodgers is the best-rounded running back on the Falcons. I'm not suggesting that he should be used as the feature back, however, as this is more of a "running back by committee" offense. Antione Smith would represent the speed portion of this committee (Jackson being power, and Rodgers being balanced) with his 96 speed and 95 agility. He also has 82 carrying (reliable with the ball in his hands) and 75 catching (good for screens and wheel routes). Patrick DiMarco is a good fullback who can do it all. With 74 speed, 73 trucking, 73 carrying, and 76 run blocking, the 25 year old can be added to the rotation if need be. This backfield can be deadly if used correctly, and is one of the few examples of good depth on this Atlanta roster.
Wide Receivers - Julio Jones and Roddy White make a great receiving duo (even though the latter has declined in recent years) and both stand at least 6'0" tall. Jones is a top 5 receiver in the NFL, and has elite hands (94 in both catch and catch in traffic ratings), and elite athleticism (95 speed). White, on the other hand, relies less on size and speed, and more on feel and mental preparation. His 95 awareness allows him to find and react to ball placement quicker, and helps find holes in the zone defenses. Roddy White still has good hands (91 catch, 86 catch in traffic), and can jump as well as many other receivers in the league (92 jumping). Harry Douglas and Drew Davis can both make good slot receivers, with catch ratings at 87 and 79, respectively, as well as catch in traffic ratings of 75 and 74, respectively. Both men are quick (Douglas is faster and quicker), making them good fits for the slot position. Douglas would start at the number three spot for me, and Davis would be number four.
Tight Ends - This position just lacks starting-caliber talent all around, for a passing offense. 23 year old Levine Toilolo is the best option, and with 75 speed, 71 catch, and 67 catch in traffic, he isn't a very reliable target, Instead, these Atlanta tight ends are much better suited to help block in the run game. Toilolo, for instance has a 75 run blocking, which is good for a tight end - just don't throw him the football often and you're golden.
Offensive Line - This line can use a lot of work - the left side more so than the right. Veteran left tackle Sam Baker (77 run block, 84 pass block) is holding back 22 year old Jake Matthews (78 run block, 81 pass block), as the 29 year old is better off in a backup role at this point in his career. Left guard Justin Blalock (32), and center Joe Hawley (25) should be replaced soon, but there isn't anyone on the roster good enough to do that. Right guard Jon Asamoah is the best player on this line, and should be a pro bowl player for years to come, and Ryan Schraeder is fine as the team's starting right tackle.
Defensive Line - The front four is decent (although not spectacular) as the edge rushers include solid starter Kroy Biermann and ageing Jonathan Babineaux, with 33 year old Osi Umenyiora backing up both men. If an elite prospect at right end comes out of the draft, this could be a devastating pass rush. Former Kansas City Chief Tyson Jackson and former Miami Dolphin Paul Soliai line up in the middle, and make a good pairing. Corey Peters and rookie Ra'Shede Hageman provide good depth to this line.
Linebackers - This group isn't necessarily the worst positional unit in football, but it's definitely not top 10 material... yet. Joplo Bartu and Sean Weatherspoon would start on the outsides, while 24 year old Paul Worrilow mans the inside. While Weatherspoon and Bartu have good hit power (84 and 80, respectively), Worrilow has the potential to become the best linebacker on this team in the next two years or so. The depth for this group is virtually nonexistent, as the best non-starting linebacker is rookie Prince Shembo. He has decent athleticism (82 speed, 83 agility) and tackling abilities (82 tackle, 76 hit power), but his awareness currently prevents him from cracking the starting lineup (58 awareness, 64 play recognition).
What grade would you give the Madden 15 version of the Atlanta Falcons?
Cornerbacks - 23 year old Desmond Trufant has turned out to be a good choice as a number one corner (95 man coverage, 93 zone coverage), but behind him will be between Robert Alford (82 man, 75 zone), Javier Arenas (77 man, 83 zone), and Josh Wilson (82 man, 74 zone). I think Alford should get the second spot, with Arenas in the nickel, and Wilson at four. In my opinion, Alford is a better football player than Wilson is (I compare the two because they have similar ratings), and I put Arenas in at the three spot because of his 83 zone coverage (which I would prefer over man coverage for nickel backs). Robert McClain and rookie Ricardo Allen provide depth to this unit made up of mostly decent cover corners.
Safety - Dwight Lowery should be replaced at free safety by either 24 year old Zeke Motta, or rookie Dezmen Southward. Lowery is decent, but nothing special and the young guys should fight it out in training camp and the preseason to determine who opens the season as the starter (if all else fails, go back to the veteran). Southward has the speed advantage (93 speed for him, only 78 for Motta), but Zeke has the better numbers in other ratings - although not by much. Southward has a zone coverage rating of 74, compared to Zeke's 78, for instance. I would personally give the job to Dezmen Southward, if I had to choose, and have Lowery backing him up. At strong safety, however, youth does not reign, as the 29 year old William Moore should hold off the 23 year old Kemal Ishmael for the starting job. With a 92 hit power rating, Moore should be able to cover (75 zone coverage), tackle (69 tackle), and run (85 speed) well enough to prevent big plays. Ishmael will get his opportunity to earn his starting job, but not quite yet.
Summary - This is a team with many holes to fill (receiving tight end, starting left guard and center, right defensive end, linebacker depth, and a top-end cornerback) if they wish to return to contention in the NFC. As far as madden goes, this is a team you can win with, only I would not suggest you use them against superior competition. This is a team you take into franchise mode and create into a super bowl contender in two or three seasons. Since you can't do that through online quick games, I don't suggest you use them, unless you are a Falcons fan, or you are just trying to match up (overall-wise) with your opponent.