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Thinking Man's Guide to Madden
Hellion's Guide to Running/Part 1

Settings/Roster

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Settings- Foremost in importance to a realistic overall game, playing on settings that are right for you and your experience level cant be overlooked. Most will play on All-Pro for quite awhile, but with careful AI adjustments, Madden level is actually a much more enjoyable brand of football. The cpu, for the most part, attempts to drive the ball downfield, and will usually run the ball at least 20 times a game, unless you get a 14-21 point lead, at which point they usually begin passing more to try and catch up. They will complete shorter, safer passes than on All-Pro, and nothing feels as cheap. Experiment with what is right for you, but here are my Madden level settings:

Offense- QB: 7 left cpu, 7 right human. (both you and the cpu will miss passes here and there) Pass block: 10 left cpu, 8 right human. (both QBs will take plenty of heat) WR hands: 5 left cpu, 10 right human (you will still drop as many as they do). HB ability:6 right cpu, 10 right human.

Defense- AWR: 10 left cpu, 10 right human. (their defenders will still be superior to yours in reaction time in most games) Knockdowns: 8 left cpu, 10 right human. (you may want to turn cpu all the way left, because their catch-up speed in the secondary is a little too high even at this setting). INT: 8 left cpu, 10 right human. Break Block: 10 left cpu, 8 right human. (turn this down for human if cpu isnt getting yards against you on ground). Tackle: 10 left cpu, 8 right human.

Special Teams: FG Length: 3 left, both. FG Acc: 3 left, both. Punt Length: 5 right, both. Punt Accuracy: 3 left, both. Kickoff length: 2 left, both. IMO these are the most realistic settings that Ive seen. Plus, I have room to make it tougher if I improve to the point that I want to do that.

Your Roster- Simply put, there are a lot of average players in Madden PS2. In some respect, this makes dominant players that much more valuable. When your team and the other team have definite weaknesses, theyre easier to pinpoint and exploit. Lets say, instead, that youre facing off against the Steelers with the Giants, and want to control the game via the running attack. Your offensive line consists of (from left to right) Lomas Brown (82ovr), Glenn Parker, 80, (although if youre playing a franchise youll wisely play 2nd year guy Mike Rosenthal, 76, instead), Dusty Zeigler, 81, Ron Stone, 74, and Luke Petitout, 75. The Steelers line up against you with LE C. Sullivan, 71, RE Kevin Henry, 80, and DTs Van Oelhoffen, 81, and Clancy, 73. Their backups, incidentally, are 66, 71, 71, and 73 overall ratings, in case anyone is injured. With this match-up, there are no guaranteed mis-matches throughout the game. Your Giants line is slightly stronger on the left side, but the Steelers line matches up pretty well on that side. For the Giants to succeed, they'll most likely have to use both of their backs and mix up their running attack quite a bit. In the real NFL, however, as well as in this game, dominating on the ground means finding bread and butter plays that run to the strength of your line and are consistently successful because of that. You have to be able to execute them well, many times a game, no matter what defensive unit youre facing. My style is to have a team somewhat like the Broncos, who have a definite strength on their line: The left side. The Broncos are smart because they know its hard to keep an offensive line of five great players together and expect to pay them what they want to make. Instead they have Nalen and that left side that they can always go to, and if teams load up on that theyll run the other way. If you use the Broncos youd be a fool to try and mix it up too much by running sweeps behind questionable blocking TE Byron Chamberlain, T Lepsis, and G. Neil. Pound it behind that dominant side instead. Using the same play and same side give an advantage because youll eventually start anticipating when blocks will be made and where the creases will be. Repetition truly breeds success in the running game. Change it up by running a counter, or off tackle instead of a dive, but dont go away from pounding it to the left unless it gets stopped or you anticipate a load up on that side in a short yardage situation. This is the heart of the Broncos offensive unit, and they play tot heir strength. This is also one of the greatest strengths of this game. If you have the personnel, you can afford to play that ball-control style. Its not like Tecmo Bowl, where one play beats another. My theory is that personnel wins games and makes a difference. Therefore, draft smart with an eye toward that line for a successful running game, because thats what is going to make it work.