By Jack M Silverstein
5:09 PM CDT, August 26, 2013
Tuesday marks the release of "Madden 25," the 25th edition in the video game franchise's epically popular series. To celebrate, Prima Games organized a 25-hour marathon live stream leading up to the game's release. It began with a showdown between Madden Official Game Guide authors Stephen "SGibs" Gibbons and Zach "ZFarls" Farley.
RedEye talked to Gibbons to see how the 2013 "Madden" Bears stack up against the rest of the league.
I'm gonna put him in the middle of the [NFL] pack. He's got good throw power. And he's got a little bit of speed. Overall you're going to be able to run most offenses pretty effectively because of his throw power.
If you're going to make a comparison between a quarterback who had a big-time arm but the throw accuracy stats weren't that good, I would always take the quarterback with the big-time arm. Because that at least gives me the ability to make specific throws on the field. That's why I'm a big fan of Jay Cutler.
One of my favorite halfbacks in the game. He's got good speed. Real good size. I really like to split him out wide and use him as a receiver. He's about 6-1, 6-2, so he's a great option to throw the ball to downfield.
Right behind Megatron [Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions] as the second-best receiver in the game. 6-5, 99 catch in traffic, he holds on to the ball that most other receivers can't. If there's one receiver other than Megatron, you have to take Brandon Marshall.
What I'm noticing a lot more in this year's game is you get a lot more drops when you throw the ball to receivers, so a guy like Brandon Marshall who's 6'5 and has 99 catch in traffic, that's huge for what you can do offensively because you can throw him the ball and he's never going to drop it.
He is what we call a "Madden sleeper." 6-3, he's got solid catch in traffic, so he's going to make Brandon Marshall that much harder to defend.
Marty B! He's one of the best tight ends in the game even though he doesn't have the best rating overall. He's 6-6 and he has crazy jumps. I think he has 97 jump or something. He just goes up and gets balls that most tight ends can't get. He's another one of those sexy players in "Madden."
"Madden" does a great job of being honest in its representation of the NFL, but I never really worry too much about the offensive line in "Madden." I really only focus on the skill positions. So I would say that every offensive line is about equal.
Devin is another one of those "Madden" gems, like Alshon Jeffery. He doesn't have the best catch rating in the game. It's below 70, might be like 68, so he will drop some balls. But what he does have is that game-changing speed. He doesn't have 100 speed, but he could have 98, which is in the Top 10 or Top 5 in the game. So you're going to like using Jeffery and Marshall on the outside and downfield, and then using Hester underneath for screens, drags, and let him use his speed to get yards after catch.
That's the guy that makes the whole line work. You can't really defend him. If you get in a one-on-one battle with him against any offensive lineman in the game, he will usually win that. If you don't get the ball out in 2.5 seconds with the way people bring blitzes and pressure, then you have to get rid of the ball, and Julius Peppers makes it so you don't have to use blitzes in a game because he can get to the quarterback and force pressure.
The inside of the line, again, that's another one of those positions that I personally don't value that much. I look for the sexier players like Julius Peppers or [Shea] McClellin. I like those guys that have a little more speed, a little more athleticism. So you can have a guy who is good and solid, but I don't get too over-excited for a guy like [Melton].
He's got size, he's got athleticism, so what I like to do a lot is drop those types of guys into coverage. So if I'm playing a man-to-man defense, I'll rush Peppers on one end and have McClellin drop into a zone on the weak side. I like having that athleticism so they can play coverage in open field.
He is a wrap-up tackler. You love having a guy like him on the field, because you know that if you user-control him, he doesn't have the greatest speed in the world, but he has the ability to wrap up. He has solid hit power, and hit power is one of the most important ratings on defense. It's what allows you to jar the ball loose and cause fumbles.
Charles Tillman is a guy who you really like to have playing with a cover-2 style defense. So you have Peppers rushing on the defensive line, and Tillman playing press coverage on the outside. He has the ability to also drop back into coverage with solid speed.
But one of the things that was notorious a couple years ago in Madden was the strip button. It was basically the Charles Tillman move where he would come in and rip the ball out. That's something where you're going to have a lot of fun doing this year, especially with Tillman.
Biggest change in Bears game play from 2012 to 2013
Losing Johnny Knox was probably the biggest hit the Bears took in terms of their team from year to year. Last year you had the ability to have Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on the outside, and then underneath you could run Johnny Knox and Devin Hester. Knox had 97 speed and Hester had 98, and then you had the two big targets out wide. It made it extremely difficult to defend the Chicago Bears
Effect of coach Marc Trestman on game play
Nothing's really changed as far as playbook goes. Usually what ends up happening if you get a new coach is you see the playbook change drastically, but the Bears this year, the playbook is mostly the same.
If you had to bet on one 2013 NFC North "Madden" team to use in a tournament, it would be …
… the Green Bay Packers. I actually have them on my big board as the No. 3 team in the entire game right behind the Seahawks and 49ers. You have a mobile quarterback with Aaron Rodgers. Real mobile. He's 80 speed. And you also have three big time receivers with James Jones, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson who all have 90 plus catch in traffic. So they're able to hold on to the ball in big time situations.
And then defensively, you've got Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Morgan Burnett. And I'm a big fan of Jerron McMillian, a free safety and second-year pro.
Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor.
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