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Overview of Madden Teams - Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens roster is an example of improving the starting lineup by messing with the depth chart. By making a few changes to the starting lineup, Baltimore's defense looks a lot different - in a good way. There are also a few hidden gems on offense, as well. This is definitely not the same team that won the super bowl three short seasons ago, but they are contenders, without a doubt.
Quarterback - Joe Flacco is a top 10 or top 12 passer in the league. He is calm and cool under pressure, and can step it up in the big moments. He is 29 years old with an 88 overall, helped by his 98 throw power. His 82 short, 86 medium, and 75 deep accuracies are good - although not elite by any means. He can lead a team no doubt, but he won't be the single reason why his team is successful. Behind him is Tyrod Taylor, at age 25 with a 72 overall (for players who use mobile quarterbacks specifically). Taylor can run with the best of them, his speed and quickness (87 speed, 87 agility) can get him out of tight spots. Other than his 91 throw power, however, Taylor seems to be lacking the accuracy to be able to lead teams consistently (74 short, 75 medium, 62 deep). This is one player to keep an eye on if you wish to develop a young quarterback in franchise mode.
Running Backs - Justin Forsett broke out this year with over 1,000 yards rushing. He has since rightfully received a major boost in madden ratings for it, with an 88 overall at age 28. His 92 speed and 94 agility are good to have in a runner, as is his 89 carry. He should be the workhorse in this offense on the ground. The real question is whether or not to resign him at the end of season one in franchise mode. Behind him, the Ravens have two solid backups in Bernard Pierce (73, 23) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (73, 23). Both men are similar in skill set with decent speed (87 for Pierce, 86 for Taliaferro), Pierce has 82 trucking with 87 carrying, while Taliaferro has 89 trucking and 82 carrying. These men are both great options for a running back by committee on the ground. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk (80, 23) is a great option to have, as he can do it all. As a runner, he has 77 speed, 82 trucking, and 77 carrying. As a receiver, his catch rating is at 79, and blocking-wise, his 74 run blocking is good as well.
Wide Receivers - This is a good unit, as Torrey Smith (86, 25) lines up as the number one option (my personal choice). His 95 speed leads this group, and he has a very solid pair of hands (87 catch and catch in traffic). Smith's route running is solid as well (84), and his ability to beat the press (81) is the best on the team. I personally like to put 23 year old Marlon Brown (77 overall) across the field at the number two spot. His size (6'5", 205 pounds), beat press (75), and catch ratings (84 catch, 86 catch in traffic) are good, although his speed isn't quite as ideal (87). His youth, however, makes it very possible to develop him into a very good starter in the upcoming years. Long time veteran Steve Smith Sr. (88, 35) lines up in the slot in my offense, as his route running (83) and catch ratings (90 catch, 93 catch in traffic) can be used as full advantages for routes over the middle, as can mismatches against third cornerbacks, linebackers, and safeties. Michael Campanaro and Kamar Aiken immediately follow Smith Sr. because of their hands (the former has 81 catch and catch in traffic, and the latter has 79 catch, 81 catch in traffic).
Tight Ends - Real life best friend of quarterback Joe Flacco, Dennis Pitta (87 overall, 29 years old) is a great receiving option at tight end in this offense. He has solid mobility (81 speed, 82 agility), and great hands (90 catch, 88 catch in traffic). His route running is good too (86), and his ability to run block isn't necessarily terrible either (66 run blocking). His 68 injury definitely scares me, however, and in order to have a great team, you need great depth - this offense has just that at the tight end position. Owen Daniels (82, 31) and rookie Crockett Gilmore (75, 22) are more than capable of filling the void left by Pitta, should he miss time to due to injury. Daniels is a veteran who can make the tough catch (86 catch and catch in traffic), while Gilmore is a rookie who has great raw skills at the position, with his 78 catch, and 80 catch in traffic. Neither man is extremely athletic (Daniels is the faster of the two - with 78 speed), but game-breaking speed isn't a necessity in this offense.
Offensive Line - The Ravens have a great offensive line, with great depth as well. You have guys like left tackle Eugene Monroe (84, 27), center Jeremy Zuttah (82, 28), and right guard Marshal Yanda (97, 29) who are veterans of the game (yet are still in their primes). This roster also has left guard Kelechi Osemele (88, 25) and right tackle Ricky Wagner (82, 24) who are younger guys that still have time to develop. With a great group of starters like this one, Flacco must be thanking his lucky stars to be protected by these men.
Defensive Line - This is where the effect of shifting depth charts start to really take shape. Former Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil moves back to his more natural position at right end (91, 30), while Chris Canty (85, 31) gets shifted over to left end. This makes for a great pass rushing duo, but the domino effect doesn't stop there. Great defensive lineman Haloti Ngata (93, 30) moves inside to defensive tackle to remove the load from young shoulders of Brandon Williams (82, 25). With this in place, running the football on this line is going to be a challenge - as will protecting the quarterback - for the opposing team.
Linebackers - Multiple pro bowl selection, Terrell Suggs (94, 31) has been a mainstay in this defense for over a decade now, and that isn't going to change in this lineup, as he has retained his starting gig on the left side. His awareness (94), tackling (92 tackle, 84 hit power), and pursuit (95) are extremely high, and he is an absolute monster in this defense. Replacing Elvis Dumervil at the right side linebacker spot, is 24 year old Courtney Upshaw (80 overall). He doesn't have much starting experience - although he has received a good amount of rotational time during his first few seasons. Upshaw's 79 speed and 72 agility aren't very impressive, but his tackling (87 tackle, 93 hit power), block shedding (82), and pursuit (87) show that he can hustle to ball, and deliver the big, game-changing hit when his team needs it. Behind the both of them is 25 year old Pernell McPhee (84 overall), who is very strong (90 strength), has good tackling ability (80 tackle, 86 hit power), block shedding (86), and pursuit (87). If he needs to step in, McPhee will not disappoint, and is talented enough to start elsewhere (I suggest putting a linebacker on the trade block). In the middle is veteran Daryl Smith (88, 32) and rookie CJ Mosley (86, 22). Smith may begin the season as the starter (93 awareness, 89 tackle, 88 hit power, 92 pursuit, and 85 zone coverage), but by mid-season or so, he should be traded away in favor of Mosley and 24 year old Arthur Brown (73) behind him. Mosley is more athletic (83 speed, 87 agility), has great tackling ability (94 tackle, 83 hit power), block shedding (82), and great pursuit (96). His zone coverage (74) can be developed over time.
Cornerbacks - Jimmy Smith (88, 26) is a good option as the top corner with his great size (6'2", 210 pounds), man coverage (92), zone coverage (90), press ability (95), and even his willingness to come up and make the tackle (71 tackle, 70 hit power). Opposite him is veteran Lardarius Webb (84, 28), who is a bit smaller than Smith (5'10", 182 pounds), and has good coverage skills as well (86 man, 82 zone). Antoine Cason (77, 28) fills the need of a nickel corner for now (78 man, 83 zone) but they will soon need a younger player for this role. Aaron Ross (76, 31) and Rashaan Melvin (68, 24) make for decent depth at the cornerback position.
Safety - Former St. Louis Ram Darian Stewart (82, 26) came in and took hold of the free safety spot and never let it go. He has good athleticism for a safety (86 speed, 88 agility), with good tackling technique (76 tackle), a willingness to lay it all on the line (90 hit power), and good zone coverage (79). While rookie Terrance Brooks (70, 23) is an intriguing option (92 speed, 76 zone coverage), he has too many flaws at the moment (61 tackling, 75 pursuit, 46 awareness) to be considered the best starting option at free safety this season for the Ravens. 24 year old Will Hill (88 overall) also has a stranglehold on the strong safety spot, with his nice hands (73 catching), great tackling (77 tackle, 90 hit power), and great zone coverage (90). This is a very good safety tandem, and causes fear in opposing offenses with their hit power (both at 90).
Summary - The Ravens still have a great madden team if you follow my formula and adjust their depth charts accordingly. If not, then this is still a good team, but I am trying to show how to maximize the abilities of these teams in madden 15. Baltimore will compete for the next few years, and expect them to be used in madden for a while. They can beat basically any team in the league - it just depends on your user skills and how good your opponent is. As for franchise mode, their needs (running back for the future, defensive tackle depth, nickel corner, strong safety depth) are not quite alarming, but they should be taken care of quickly, so you can compete for a super bowl year in and year out.