Miscellaneous

Madden’s Franchise Mode Needs a Complete Overhaul

By now, you’ve probably heard that one, if not the most loyal fanbase EA Sports has, the Madden franchise community, isn’t very happy. Once details came out as to what was added in Madden 21, franchise gamers were furious to see that the new game was mostly a patch to the prior game with the biggest addition being that there would be 14 teams in the playoffs to match what was happening in the league. Besides that though, there was practically nothing added.

The franchise community has been more than frustrated for years with how EA has derailed their beloved mode by stripping it of some much-needed features while keeping it the most boring and bland game mode. Meanwhile, other modes, namely Ultimate Team, were peppered with new features. With the new game seemingly being a patch to franchise mode, fans were furious and took to twitter, making the hashtag #FixMaddenFranchise, number one trending on the whole platform.

It was enough for EA’s Executive Producer, Seann Graddy to make a video on July 2nd where he talked about, albeit from a script which he was reading from, adding details to the game mode and including a timetable for new features to the mode. Since then though, no details have been said for what is planned for franchise mode and a new game mode titled “The Yard” has been added to the game.

YouTubers such as That Franchise Guy, RyanMoody21, and C4 have all been big ambassadors on making franchise mode far better than it currently is. Along with those three, The Sports Journal and Deuce Douglas have given ideas as well as showing what has been taken out of past franchise modes. Douglas even took the time to make a massive post, where he would post his blueprint for franchise mode. It has over 23,000 words and goes completely in-depth into every aspect of the mode. These five have helped gauge what fans want and I’ve taken note of some of the things they’ve included in their videos, as well as aspects that I would like to return or be added into the mode to be used for this article.

Character Selection

In the in-depth article Douglas posted, he mentioned that character selection should be a more in-depth option. The more I thought about it, I agreed. Upon entering franchise mode, you are given three options to decide from: owner, head coach, and player. To the average player, these may seem perfectly fine, but to the players that want the complete approach, it’s boring and bland. Douglas goes on to include a commissioner, general manager, and coordinator to the character selection.

The general manager aspect is something that you’ve had to use the owner selection in past games to get the “full” GM experience. The only difference the owner selection should have is the financial and relocation aspects that are already in the game. The coordinator experience is great for players that like to work their way through the ranks and understand what all goes into an NFL team.

Preseason Changes

To most fans, preseason is pointless. For the general manager and coaches on each squad though, it is one of the most important parts of the season. There is no point in playing preseason games in Madden as there are no storylines and positional battles aren’t highlighted as they used to be. Along with those storylines that used to be in those games, the preseason opponents in the last few maddens have been the same from year-to-year and sometimes you can even end up playing your divisional opponents in the preseason. In past Maddens, you could select the teams you would play in the preseason.

NFL offseason rosters allow for up to 90 players on the roster, while in Madden they only allow 75. While these 15 players might not mean much, it gives a realistic touch to the game and gives you the ability to reevaluate your team the way you want. Again, this gives the user a realistic feel to the mode, and going from 90 players to 53 is what all 32 teams in the league do after week four of the preseason.

Along with these cut days that are pointless and overlooked, the waiver wire scouring that happens in the league is nowhere to be seen on Madden. The logic that goes into some of the cuts is mindblowing as the AI teams on Madden like to keep ten offensive linemen, sometimes cutting valuable rookies and young players to keep awful offensive linemen. It would be nice to see an added menu that includes players cut from each team and how they would fit on your team after the week four cutdowns.

Regular Season 

There is virtually no way to get all the intel you need before a regular-season game on Madden. You have to go through so many different menus before getting to know who’s injured on the opposing team as well as key players and the tendencies the team has used in prior games. On NCAA14, before playing the game, you would be able to see how each team ranked against the run and pass on offense and defense, which isn’t much but it’s still more than we have currently.

Injuries seem to be the same five or so for every player. About a week before the player is scheduled to return, you get the opportunity to bring the player back basically as a shell of their former selves or just play the backup. It’s kind of pointless as the backup option is the best choice as the injured player has most of their attributes decreased. This would be another good opportunity for the waiver wire to be brought up upon an injury.

The trade deadline is a busy time around the league. Some big names are moved during that time and it changes the outcomes of some team’s seasons. In a video That Franchise Guy did, he tries trading for Josh Norman at the trade deadline while Washington is having a dreadful season. He originally offered a fourth-round pick for Norman which wasn’t accepted and eventually a first-round pick wasn’t even accepted. He then went on to try trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is 33, and still, the first-round pick wouldn’t get the trade to go through. The trade logic is awful and makes Bill O’Brien look somewhat smart.

Along with the trades not making any sense, the simulation stats don’t as well. Marcus Mariota, Mitchell Trubisky, and Daniel Jones are sim gods in Madden while Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson are always in the middle of the pack. The overalls of players are a big talk around the Madden community right now but those ratings don’t even seem to matter once you get playing.

Watch out for those sneaky 9-7 teams that sneak into the playoffs and go on to the Super Bowl to beat your 14-2 team as C4 has included in a bunch of his rebuilds. The sim engine in Madden is awful and while upsets do happen, when one team is the better team, it shouldn’t lose to a team that barely made the playoffs.

Schemes

Madden doesn’t put schemes into account at all. It doesn’t matter what scheme teams run, the AI will use a 4-3 outside linebacker as a 3-4 defensive end or even the other way around as well as playing someone like Von Miller as an inside linebacker. Along with this, Madden still is about two decades behind in terms of football terminology as they still use terms like left and right outside linebacker instead of just using defensive line, edge rushers, and linebackers like most people do today. For instance, at the end of season awards, Jadeveon Clowney is grouped with Roquan Smith, acting like those two players play the same position when they don’t.

Regression 

Regression is horrendous in Madden. Yes, some players have a decline in their play after a few years but the regression hits extremely hard on Madden. Even after an MVP season, some player’s ratings will deteriorate like nothing.

Contracts 

This is going to be one of the longer parts of the article as this goes into a multitude of different subjects. On the current Madden, there is no way to structure your contract. All it tells you is how many years the contract is worth, the base salaries, as well as the signing bonus, and there’s no option to front-load or spread out the contract in certain years as the game severely backloads the contracts. Along with the fact you can’t determine where the contracts money gets put out in the timeframe, there is no opportunity to give incentives in the contract for playing time and general player success.

Once you give a player a contract, there is no ability to restructure the contract and have players take pay cuts, similar to what Sammy Watkins did after the Super Bowl for the Chiefs. This is something that happens in the league regularly and is once again one of the easiest things that could be implemented in the game yet isn’t.

In the re-signing period and free agency, the contracts don’t make any sense. A top-10 receiver could be asking for only six million a season at times. Some key rotational players who may be able to have a bigger role on other teams ask for small contracts to stay with their respective teams. In free agency, the players that should command a big price tag sometimes don’t, while the ones that should be given prove-it deals are given multi-year contracts. Then there are times where you’re two years into a franchise series and every team is negative in cap space and Mahomes will go unsigned until the preseason. There are no cap casualties in the game when there is plenty in the real game.

Restricted Free Agents would be a cool feature to have, oh wait they already had that in the game and took that out as well.

Coaching Staff

This is the most blatant obvious feature missing from franchise mode. All you have now is your coach, trainer, and one lone scout. There isn’t a coaching staff in the game, just one lone coach. While there used to be offensive and defensive coordinators, that isn’t enough anymore. There should be the main head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators, and each positional coach. These positional coaches don’t even have to be the real coaches on the team, they can be fictional as well. The head coach should have some sort of stats to how his mind works well with the offense and defense and should give a general overview of his success in the league and how it will translate to the team.

One of the biggest aspects in the league right now is coordinators and positional coaches getting promoted to higher roles on other teams. For instance, Eric Bienemy, Greg Roman, and Robert Saleh are all coordinators who are likely to get a head coaching job while Joe Judge was a positional coach and is now the head coach of the New York Giants. There is nothing like this in Madden. The fact that coaching staffs were in the game ten years ago and haven’t returned in any circumstance is mindblowing.

Compensatory Picks

32 of the 255 picks in the 2020 draft came via compensatory selections. That is 12.5% of the draft. The picks aren’t a big issue especially the later ones, but what is an issue is that you can’t let a player go even if you have a young player behind them waiting and not be rewarded as the NFL does. This also goes into the portion of the contracts because you might not have enough cap space to sign a star player so you might as well get something in return for that player since you can’t re-sign them.

Free Agency 

A big part of the free-agent process are visits to multiple teams. Douglas includes that there should be something similar to what NCAA had in their recruiting process that only allows you to spend a certain number of visits with players during each week. The NFL uses a few select days before free agency officially opens as the tampering period. For this exercise on Madden, you would be able to label your top priorities on a list and see where you fall in terms of teams they would like to play for. Another thing that isn’t included is players coming off of breakout seasons before free agency opens. Those players won’t ask for big contracts in the game when they would in real life such as Shaq Barrett this year.

On old Maddens, players had a multitude of different bars that had to deal with what they were looking for on a new team. Of course, money is a major factor but others such as winning, playing time, and scheme fit should all be included. A team needs a menu in free agency that would be helpful and should be more in-depth than QB, WR, etc, as WR3, EDGE3, and DL2 would all be more team-oriented.

Scouting 

The current scouting process in Madden has been the same for a few years and is too easy to manipulate if you’ve done enough drafts. There isn’t enough information given out about the players and isn’t even remotely fun as the storylines throughout the year are recycled from year-to-year.

Returning to the staff, the current product has one scout and that’s it. Even if it goes to three or four scouts, that is a vast improvement as each scout could cover one area of the country. Douglas goes a step further by including a specialty to some positions which gives some accuracy to the positions that they’re good at while providing some question marks to the positions they might not be good at.

Douglas has a great YouTube video on a new scouting system that could be used. In this video, each player has a scout assigned to them and how much time the scout has spent with each player, as well as providing the draft depth as well as the deepest and weakest positions in the class. This information is good as you could have free agents at a certain position but the depth in the class could lead you to let go of that player due to the depth in the draft at that particular position. The scouting system would be the same as you would only be allowed to scout a certain number of players each week.

The scouting report needs a complete overhaul and Douglas did a great job once again. He includes the player grade given by the scout, a player comparison, short-term, and long-term projections, current fit on the depth chart, and ceiling and floors for the draft positions. The report also includes the positives and negatives of each player. The combine/pro day results, as well as college stats and medical results, would also be included.

AI Logic During the Offseason 

This is probably one of the biggest things that make franchise mode boring and flat-out dumb. The AI uses awful logic and That Franchise Guy exposed their draft logic in a video where the Buccaneers had the number one pick with Jameis Winston still on the team and opted to take an edge rusher, while the Giants who had Jones coming into his second year, elected to take a quarterback. It isn’t just the draft that teams will do that either. In free agency, teams with young quarterbacks will go spend tons on an aging quarterback after their young quarterback put up great numbers.

Draft

The draft is overall pretty sound once you get an updated scouting system. Going back to our trade-talk at the trade deadline, the trade offers you get during the draft are abysmal and downright disgusting and desperately need to be fixed so that users don’t have to control other teams to get equal value from opposing teams.

Once you select a player on the games today, you know everything about that player besides maybe their development. While some find this nice and easy, some also find it boring as they already know everything about the player and don’t have to spend any time finding out how good they are and finding out their strengths and weaknesses.

This was a deep dive into Madden’s franchise mode. The mode is in desperate need of a complete overhaul and fans of the game mode, including myself, are not happy. I could’ve gone even more in-depth by saying the storylines were bland and boring as well as the hub looking disgusting and way too complicated, but maybe that will be addressed when ultimately those will be the same in a couple of months with the release of Madden 21.

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