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Madden 21 Wish list (CFM focused) 
Posted on April 13, 2020 at 02:36 PM.
I haven’t written my Madden CFM wish list in several years because it has felt like a futile effort. Everyone knows that MUT is EA’s cash cow and CFM is the forgotten child that gets a fraction of the development time and focus. With so many years without a true online franchise mode, I have remained happy just to have the online franchise mode in the game and the opportunity to continue playing year round with my BFSL brothers. This year’s game has been my least enjoyable in quite some time though and I felt the need to revisit my wish list once again. As always, my focus will be on gameplay and the CFM. A good portion of my gameplay discussion will focus on the addition of X-factors and abilities to the game.

1. Ratings/X-factors – I have clamored for years to have ratings matter more. I want them to matter in every aspect of the game. I felt EA had done a good job adding additional ratings over the last few years. The added ratings to offensive lineman and receivers really had me excited. At this point though, I just don’t know that those ratings are anything more than window dressing. I honestly can’t tell any difference in performance of a highly rated offensive lineman and a mediocre one. It still feels like wide receivers get open more based on the route type you choose and not the ratings of the WR versus the defensive back covering him. I have also wanted star players to stand out more. I wanted JJ Watt to dominate a mediocre offensive tackle that he was matched up against. I wanted Michael Thomas to win one on one battles with a 74 overall cornerback. When I heard about the addition of abilities, I was cautiously optimistic that the star players would now stand out. After playing the game a couple of weeks, I quickly learned that the abilities and x-factor additions did not add to the game in a positive or realistic way. Yes, the star players certainly stand out, but not in a realistic manner. For MUT, I think the addition of these abilities achieved what EA wanted. They drove the fans of MUT to seek cards/players with these abilities. MUT fans wanted a Zeke Elliott who could arm bar the entire defensive team. CFM guys like myself just cringed though. Those abilities are too arcade like for what we are looking for. We want dice rolls based on ratings and in game situations. Yes certain running backs have a better arm bar than others, but those arm bar animations should factor in a ton of calculations (timing of when user hits stiff arm button, rating of the HB, tackle rating of the defender, speed of RB, size, angle and speed of the defender) to determine if the defender gets tossed or not. And even if a defender has a poor tackle rating, he still should not get tossed 100% of the time. It should still come down to a dice roll based on a ratio that is realistic. No NFL defender is getting tossed 100% of the time. The same concept applies to the WR versus the CB interaction. Ratings should determine the dice roll. You shouldn’t be able to just line up and say I am facing man coverage, a zig is the route to go to. Perhaps a zig with a WR with high short route running will often beat a poor man coverage CB, but it should not be 100%. Also input factors of the defender should have an impact on the dice roll (think shade inside versus shade outside). You don’t need to give players special abilities IF you make the actual ratings matter! Or if you want to give players abilities make them realistic and not arcade. Give a great pass rusher a swim move if he really has one in real life. Or give us users the ability to accumulate XP (at a realistic rate) to develop a swim move for one of our pass rushers. You can do so in a manner that still puts the focus on star players. Don’t let a guy add a swim move on a player until he hits an 80+ ovr rating threshold (or you can even get more granular and make it that he has to have minimum threshold for agility and finesse moves). I just think having a guy who delivers a hitstick every play is not the answer to making star players stand out. Let MUT continue to have that craziness. Give us CFM guys realistic abilities.

2. Realistic Pass Rush and Blitzing – EA has made great strides improving the blocking logic so nano blitzes don’t come in. The problem is in the process they have pretty much nerfed any chance for a realistic pass rush. For the most part unless you have one extra guy than the offense is keeping in for protection or you have an arcade like DL with a pass rush ability, you are not getting good heat on the QB. The NFL does not work like this. Blitzers occasionally come free even when they don’t have the overload numbers. Also some blitzes are just designed with the sole intention of getting a star pass rusher isolated on a 1 on 1 opportunity. I think EA needs to spend some time and work on the logic here (with a heavy focus on realism). Ratings need to matter (ability and awareness). I also think the amount of times a blitz is called should factor in. We should see varied results each pass play. Sometimes a 4 man rush should get quicker heat if a guy gets a shed. Sometimes the QB should have all day in the pocket on a 4 man rush. I feel now that the individual ratings do not matter in this (and the abilities that matter are not remotely realistic).

3. Eliminating walking up to the line from the huddle – I get what EA was shooting for. They want to eliminate the “dead” time of the game. This is football though and not baseball. Nothing occurs during the walk up to the batter’s box in baseball, but plenty is going on in football. The defense is looking at the alignment of the offense and making adjustments. I just think the change has put the defense at a disadvantage not being able to get started on their adjustments.

4. Run/Pass commit – I think EA has made improvements on this, but there is still work to be done. When pass committing a defender should not bite on a play fake. When run committing to the proper area (middle, right, left) your LBs and secondary players should get a head start to the ball carrier if the play goes to the selected area. There should be a penalty for guessing wrong though. It needs to be a realistic risk versus reward scenario to run or pass commit. Shouldn’t be something people use every down.

5. DB/Receiver interaction – The CFM I am in (BFSL) has played with settings and sliders probably more so this year than any other in the past and we still can not find a setting that removes the issue with defensive backs turning into zombies and watching passes whip right by them without making an attempt to swat or intercept the pass. I am not talking about a player with his back to the ball either. You will have a guy in a zone facing the QB and the QB throws it right at him and he doesn’t do anything. Maybe EA programmed the game this way because it wants people to click on the DB and make the pick themselves, but the BFSL is a no switch league meaning that when the ball is in the air you need to remain on your defender. Also, the guy on offense has to let the animation play out too. I get it that this approach is probably not something that everyone who purchases the game is down for, but it has always worked for us. The guys who user a LB can cover a lot of ground, so it helps level the playing field by nulling their ability to click on someone on the outside and quickly manually take something away that was open there. This rule has also kept us out of the rocket and swerve catching problems as well. I would just like to see better dice roll animations play out (based on abilities, angles of WR and DB, line of sight, accuracy of throw). It rarely looks like both players are actually going for a ball. Continue to add animations, improve zone logic and concepts, and add to dice roll calculations that create realistic battles for the ball and realistic outcomes….and for heaven’s sake please eliminate the zombie DBs.

CFM Improvements

1. Disconnects – For years, I have been asking for a way to resume disconnected games. The average person playing in a CFM is an adult male with other life responsibilities. The time commitment to get games in is significant, so when a disconnect occurs it is disheartening. Besides the loss of time often the momentum of the game is impacted as well as factors such as being forced to adjust play calling in a restart. In tis day and age of technology, there HAS to be a way to pick up a game at the point it drops.

2. Playbooks/Coordinators – I really think EA has dropped the ball by not including coordinators in CFM. In my opinion, adding this would be a huge win to the CFM crowd. How I would implement the coordinators would be to tie their playbooks to them. I think this would add a very cool element to running a CFM team. Gone would be the days were everyone in your league is running the Patriot offensive playbook. Now if you want to run a playbook you need someone from that coaching tree. This would make off-season bidding on coaches (similar to free agents) exciting. Besides playbooks, you could also tie scouting points to the coordinators (in a more meaningful way than is done now). Say a offensive coordinator is a so called QB whisperer, allow that team to have a significant advantage scouting QBs. Maybe even allow them to have some insight as to the players growth protentional.

3. Award voting – I have always felt the award voting should be done by the members of the CFM. League members know who are the true MVPs and rookies, so let us vote. This would help curb some of the stat padding that takes place.

4. Progression – EA needs to decide if they believe in the RP model or not. They allow players to accumulate XP points but then they limit what you can use those points for. Gone are the days you can take a rookie RB who fumbles and use XP to make him cover the ball. Also it is beyond frustrating to try to build up the zone ratings of a safety and finally accumulate enough points for an upgrade and then you select the zone category and you don’t get a single point towards the zone rating. I believe a formula that references playing time, along with results (i.e stats), potential, and coaching should determine progression.

5. Regression – I have shared a lot of my negative opinions, so I thought it was only fair to state that I do feel like EA has done a nice job making regression more realistic. It used to be that skill players would just lose speed at a rate that made them unusable by the time they hit 32. It definitely feels more realistic now. I just think they need to continue to refine it with that emphasis towards a realistic approach. Have RBs lose some of their agility, juke and spin moves a little. Maybe have lineman lose some strength. Route running starts to slip for WRs.

6. Branch story line – As a concept, I like this addition by EA, but it never should have been implemented before some of these other upgrades that are needed. Yes it is nice to be able to decide to rest a team or have them practice during a bye week, but let’s be real is there really a negative impact to decreasing moral? And the story lines to determine if a player gains a x-factor or ability is just ridiculous. Does Derwin James fail to become a star if he doesn’t get 2 interceptions in a certain game? Come on EA! I am not sure how anyone sat in a development meeting and thought that was the best approach. Abilities and x-factors should not be in the game, but if they are then you can’t have the outcome of one game’s stats decide if a player gets the “special powers” or not. It should be based on the player’s overall rating as compared to those in his same position group.

7. Draft – I like that they eliminated the draft stories which gave away who had the highest development ratings. These should always be varied. Some highly rated prospects might start at a 79 but could be at or near their ceiling already. Some guys might start at a 70 but have the potential to grow much quicker and higher. That is the realistic approach by making them varied. I do think we should have the ability to evaluate a ceiling. It should not be automatic where we just spend points and know the potential though. But it should be tied to coordinators and we should get a “feel” for a player’s growth potential. Draft classes need to be created with a focus on realism. We literally had six draft classes without a single decent QB prospect. I get it there is not a Peyton Manning or Pat Mahomes every draft class, but to not have a single QB with a 90 throwing power in 6 drafts is asinine. If you are going to shrink the ratings of draft classes then to make things fair you need to equally shrink the ratings of the current players too.

8. Fair play settings – I don’t know why EA has not given the commissioners of CFMs the ability to set some play calling restrictions. I know in my CFM that we would love to be able to limit a pass play to twice a half and the ability to limit the amount of hot routes on a play. In generally, I think EA should give the commissioners a lot more control of how the game is played in a league. The commissioners should be able to turn player lock settings on, prevent player editing, set play call restrictions, prevent players from manually moving a defender to hover on the line. Everyone has a different opinion on how the game should be played, so make these settings options that each commissioner can turn on or off as he chooses.

Thanks if you have read this far. I know the wordcount is much higher than most people have the patience for, but I am passionate about Madden’s CFM. I know it is a video game and getting it to 100% mimic the NFL action on Sundays will never happen, but I think the goal of EA should be two pronged… realistic and fun. I think the X-factors and abilities have moved the target greatly away from realism and strictly towards an arcade game that generates micro-transaction revenue. I just hope some development time can be spent towards giving us CFM guys something other than the ability to play the Pro Bowl. Give us ratings that truly matter in a realistic dice role calculation, give us coordinators, give us the ability to resume a disconnected game and give us a realistic progression system. I think these will go a long way towards improving the user’s overall experience with CFMs.

Please let me know what ideas you have that I may have overlooked or let me know if there is something I listed that you strongly disagree with. I'd love to read the feedback of other passionate CFM fans.
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