As soon as the calendar turns over from July to August, it’s full steam ahead on the football express. With the offseason in the rearview, training camp underway, and preseason football the next stop along the tracks, football is officially upon us.
Part of that trip includes a stop to celebrate Maddenoliday, an annual tradition where hope springs eternal for every football video gamer.
Over the course of this past week, EA Sports partnered with ESPN to reveal the overall ratings and rankings of various players and positions. Per tradition, outrage ensued as fans took to social media to voice their opinions of how off-base the team at EA Sports was in their virtual assessment of the real-life counterparts—something even I couldn’t resist when the tight end rankings dropped.
EA Sports released the ratings for all the players in the game and we’re going to dig into four takeaways about the Detroit Lions roster on Madden NFL 22.
Frank Ragnow is the fifth-best center in the game and that feels wrong
Look, the Lions roster is currently undergoing a
rebuild re-tool, and that’s no secret. Detroit lost a ton of firepower on offense from Matthew Stafford to Kenny Golladay, but the anchor of Detroit’s offensive line, Frank Ragnow, signed a four-year extension this offseason to make him the highest-paid center in the NFL and he’s worth every penny of it.
However, Ragnow earned just an 88 overall, making him the fifth-best center in the game behind Rodney Hudson, Jason Kelce, Ryan Jensen, and Corey Linsley. Ragnow finished second among centers in 2020 in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus grades behind only Kelce, yet Ragnow’s run-block rating is an 85 whereas Kelce scored a 98. When it comes to pass-blocking efficiency, a premium stat from Pro Football Focus, only Jensen had a better rating than Ragnow in 2020, but somehow, Madden still stuck Ragnow fifth.
One thing EA Sports almost got right was Ragnow’s toughness rating—a 98 out of 99—but for someone who played through an NFL game with fractured throat, I’m really not sure what someone has to do in order to earn a perfect rating there.
Jack Fox isn’t the best punter in the game so I guess 2020 didn’t matter
Oh yeah, we’re going here.
Ranked as the seventh-best punter in this year’s iteration of Madden NFL, Jack Fox was one of the sole bright spots for the Lions in 2020—thanks, Matt Patricia, for something and nothing all at once.
Fox was the best punter in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, earning the highest grade for the 2020 season. He was a second-team All Pro selection in his first season, but Madden supplied him with just an 80 overall, a 94 kick power rating—he was third in the league in yards per attempt (49.1)—and a paltry 81 kick accuracy—Fox was fifth in the NFL for punts landing inside the 20-yard line (29 of his 59 punts).
Taylor Decker is a below-average NFL left tackle according to Madden
Another head-scratcher here as Madden ranked Taylor Decker as the 19th left tackle in the NFL, but his play a year ago definitely put him in the discussion of the top ten at his position.
Decker put up the best numbers of his career in 2020 according to Pro Football Focus allowing just 29 quarterback pressures on 692 pass-blocking snaps—19th among all tackles in the NFL—and posting his best run-blocking grade since his rookie season.
Many believe this Lions offensive line is poised to do great things in 2021 and Decker will be integral to them accomplishing their goals.
The Lions have just one skill position player rated above 80
As mentioned earlier, the Lions lost a ton of talent on offense this offseason and replaced them with players looking to rebound and prove themselves as competitors who belong in the NFL.
Only T.J. Hockenson, a holdover from last year’s team and a Pro Bowl player in 2020, is rated above 80 overall. Tyrell Williams (79), D’Andre Swift (78), Jamaal Williams (77), Jared Goff (77), and Breshad Perriman (75) are some of the players expected to have substantial roles for the team this season, but they’ll have to show out this season in order for the rating adjusters at EA Sports to improve their ratings—and even if they do, who the hell knows, they’ll probably get the Decker treatment.
What stood out to you about this year’s batch of ratings from EA Sports and Madden NFL 22? Sound off in the comments.