Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release: August 2, 2019
Rating: Rating Pending
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Sports minds often argue that quarterback is the most influential position in sports. The modern NFL is predicated on signal callers identifying defensive tendencies, making pre-snap adjustments, and attacking perceived weaknesses with arm strength, accuracy, and sometimes their legs. If your quarterback can’t handle these responsibilities while also avoiding the 250-pound pass-rushing monsters breathing down his neck, chances are your team is heading for a high draft pick next season. We’ve seen it play out time and time again throughout NFL history. When Peyton Manning missed the 2011 season with the Indianapolis Colts due to a neck injury, the perennial playoff team that had made nine straight postseason visits plunged to a franchise-altering 2-14 record. That disaster season ultimately led to the end of Manning’s Colts career and the drafting of Andrew Luck.
Quarterbacks have always played a critical role in the Madden series – see Michael Vick in Madden 04 – but athleticism often rules over accuracy or pocket presence. The changes EA Tiburon introduces in Madden NFL 20 could make the position more influential than ever, whether we’re talking about those highly mobile quarterbacks or the more traditional passers who tear apart defenses with quick decision making from the pocket. Here are four reasons why the quarterbacks could dominate play in multiple ways this year.
Superstar X-Factor Abilities Give Quarterbacks Extra Influence
No position gains more from Madden NFL 20’s new signature abilities than quarterbacks. Scrolling through the complete roster of X-Factor players for each NFL club, only quarterbacks had more than two different superstar abilities, with some of the top signal callers having as many as five. Not only that, some of their abilities make the players around them better.
For years, pocket passers like Tom Brady have never felt as dangerous in Madden as they are in real life. The GOAT may actually feel like the GOAT in Madden 20 if his signature abilities make a true difference. One of Brady’s abilities gives him four additional hot routes at the line of scrimmage, while another helps his offensive lineman hold their pass blocks longer than they will for other quarterbacks. Drew Brees also has a teammate-altering superstar ability that gives his running backs surer hands when catching balls out of the backfield.
RPO Unlocks The True Potential Of Athletic Quarterbacks
The run-pass option has become an NFL staple over the past couple years, and it’s finally coming to Madden this year. These plays rely on quarterbacks to quickly read the defense and determine whether to hand the ball off to a running back, target a receiver breaking off the line of scrimmage, or tuck it and run themselves. Having a stable of RPO plays in the playbooks should make mobile quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson, and Madden cover athlete Patrick Mahomes even more dangerous than they already are.
Increased Pocket Mobility Should Make Avoiding The Pass Rush Easier
In a throwback to earlier Madden titles, this year’s game re-introduces the ability to close the passing windows at the touch of a button and turn your quarterback into an instant run threat. Whenever you feel the heat bearing down on you or identify a huge hole in the defense downfield, you can tap the left trigger to toggle the passing windows off and turn your QB into a runner, giving you the full suite of jukes, spins, and stiff arms. Should you avoid the pressure and still find yourself behind the line of scrimmage, you can tap LT again to toggle back to the passing windows. This feature is a welcome return and should help aware passers avoid oncoming rushers and make something out of nothing.
The New Pump Fake System Can Draw Defenders Out Of Position
Many NFL quarterbacks use pump fakes to freeze defenders and give them that small opening they need to thread the ball to a receiver. Madden 20 introduces an improved system that lets you pump fake to any receiver by double tapping the button of the intended target. Should you time it perfectly on a double-move route, your chances of getting the defender to bite on the fake go up dramatically. Some quarterbacks with killer pump fakes like Ben Roethlisberger even have superstar abilities that increase their success rates even further.
Taken together, these new features should make elite quarterbacks more deadly than they’ve felt in the past. And if you don’t have a top-tier gunslinger, just like the real NFL, you’re going to want to get one ASAP.