It took me some time, but I finally got back into Madden mode. The newest version has very little change compared to the 2007 Xbox 360 version. The graphics are relatively the same while Marshall Faulk provides the most monotone and generic commentary -- I'm not sure if I've heard him name a single team yet. The best feature is the gang tackling. I typically play middle linebacker. I'm the Bengals. No way! Against the Ravens -- game #2 of the '07 season -- I finished with 20 tackles using Odell Thurman. The graphics are a bit smoother compared to the Xbox 360 predecessor. All in all, I haven't noted anything between 2007 and 2008 that's really worth commenting on.
But I'm not talking Madden. Taking my place on the information super-highway, I went Football Outsiders for a statistical overbearing post and found this.
Note: Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team’s performance to the league average based on situation in order to determine value over average (explained further here).
A historically top-ten DVOA Bengals offense, is the obvious bright spot, ranked 5th with a 23.2% Offense DVOA. The defense, somewhat surprisingly, is a middle of the road (16th) -2.1% Defense DVOA. Mostly thanks to the turnovers. The Special Teams ranks 31st with a -21.2%. Only Kansas City ranks worst (-21.7%). Fix it, Simmons.
Note: Special Teams is adjusted to warm, cold, dome, Denver/Mexico City.
Overall the Bengals Total DVOA is ranked 15th (4.1%). That means when all adjustments are made, the Bengals are top-five on offense, middle-of-the-pack on defense and abysmal on defense. Is that surprising?
Cincinnati among leaders in fumbles... and a note on drops.
Steve McNair leads the NFL with most fumbles lost (3). Why is this mentioned? The Bengals were the team he lost his fumbles to. Rudi Johnson is tied for second with two fumbles lost. DeShaun Foster, Steven Jackson and Rudi are the leading running backs in terms of fumbles lost. In case you're wondering, the Bengals defense shares the NFL lead for most fumbles caused (7) and most fumbles recovered (4).
While T.J. Houshmandzadeh leads the NFL with 17 pass receptions, the wide receiver is tied for second with three passes dropped -- as per Stats, Inc. Dropped passes are passes that are actually in the hands and are dropped. Not passes around the receiver that should have been caught. Chad has only dropped one pass. T.J. has a 7.0 yards per reception average. Ouch.
Breaking down Carson Palmer's passer rating
|Ahead by > 9 pts||47.9|
Rudi Johnson has caught seven of nine passes thrown his way. Johnson is one pace for 1,344 yards rushing on 328 attempts. Rudi's receiving touchdown against Cleveland was the first in his career. Rudi has been stuffed behind the line of scrimmage six times. Only Steven Jackson (8) and Cedric Benson (7) have been stuffed more.
But here's the stat that should concern you. The Bengals have run 49 total rushing plays. Rudi Johnson has 41 one of them. That's 84%. Last year, Rudi ran on 78% of the Bengals rushing plays. And he showed degradation in terms of his yards per rush -- this year, he's starting out with 4.1 yards per carry. During his franchise-record rushing season (2005, 1,458 yards), Rudi rushed on 73% of the team's rushes. If you take Chris Perry's rush attempts in 2005 and Kenny Watson's rush attempts in 2006 -- the most rush attempts by a running back behind Rudi -- they combine for 86 attempts.
At this rate, I really don't see Rudi surviving much longer as the team's feature back.
Chad Johnson leads the NFL with most 25+ yard receptions (5). Eight people are tied for second place with three.