There are still a few months before Madden 21 is scheduled to be released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in August, but EA Sports recently teased some big news for June 16.
Madden is highly anticipated every year for the improved graphics and updated rosters. But each game also offers new features and game modes that make it more unique than its predecessor. This year's version is sure to deliver plenty of new surprises for fans, so here are 10 proposed changes for Madden 21:
1. More Redskins players with Superstar X-factors.
Superstar X-Factors were one of the biggest features introduced in Madden 20. They allowed for certain players -- only 50 at any given time -- to have their unique abilities enhanced in games.
Only three Redskins players -- Ryan Kerrigan, Landon Collins and Trent Williams -- possessed X-Factors when the game launched in August. Collins had the Enforcer ability, which doesn't allow for broken tackles when hit-sticking ball carriers; Kerrigan had the Reach Elite ability, which allows defenders to reach out of blocks to tackle or sack ball carriers; and Williams had the Edge Protector ability, which reduced edge rushers win percentage against pass blocks.
This year, the Redskins have several candidates to increase the number of players on their roster who own these coveted abilities. Cole Holcomb was second on the team in tackles last year as a rookie, so the Enforcer ability would fit well with his skill set.
Terry McLaurin, who led the team in receiving yards and had one of the best rookie seasons for a receiver in franchise history, is also worthy of at least one X-Factor ability like RAC'em Up, which gives receivers a higher success rate on runs after the catch in single coverage. McLaurin also has a strong argument for a Superstar Ability like Grab N Go, which allows quicker momentum and change of direction.
2. Chase Young being the highest-rated defensive rookie in the game.
The Redskins chose the best player available in the 2020 Draft when they took Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick. Many have called him a generational talent, and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said Young has the most complete toolbox he has ever seen in a player coming out of the draft.
Young is the third Ohio State edge rusher to get drafted in the last four years, and the Madden franchise gave former Buckeyes Nick and Joey Bosa favorable ratings for their rookie seasons. Nick Bosa received a 78 when Madden 20 launched last year, while Joey Bosa's 84 rating in Madden 17 tied with Ezekiel Elliott for the highest in their class.
By most accounts, including those of his teammates like McLaurin, Young has a chance to be better than both of the Bosa brothers, so it's safe to assume he is deserving of a higher Madden rating than both of them. He hasn't earned the right to be one of the highest-rated defensive players in the game yet, but a player who is compared to Julius Peppers has certainly earned some special consideration.
3. More position options on Face of the Franchise mode.
Face of the Franchise was another unique game mode that made its debut in Madden 20. It allowed for gamers to create a character and take them briefly through their college career before joining the NFL to become one of the best players in the league.
The only drawback was that players could only be a quarterback, which makes some sense. The quarterback is the most important position on the field and arguably the entire team, so it's logical for gamers to create a signal-caller to fill the role of a team's franchise player.
But quarterback isn't everyone's favorite player. Many fans prefer running backs, wide receivers, linebackers or cornerbacks. While none of those positions are as impactful, they do present challenges, like winning matchups against defensive backs or making calls on defense, that quarterbacks don't need to overcome.
Having the option to create characters at other positions would offer more diversity. Even being a defensive end would bring new dimensions to the mode and allow for players to see the game differently. This wouldn't be true for all positions; it likely wouldn't translate as well for an offensive lineman. Still, providing the choice of picking other positions would expand players' perspectives beyond that of the quarterback.
4. New features to Franchise mode.
Franchise mode is not a new feature to Madden. It's been a mainstay of the game for years, and that likely won't change in the near future. However, it could do with a few changes to give it a fresher feel, namely with scouting and adding assistant coaches.
One of the reasons Franchise mode is so popular is because it gives people the opportunity to craft their own team by drafting college players based on scouting reports just like the real versions of the teams. Real scouting reports are in-depth and descriptive; some offer predictions on which round each player will be drafted and even compare their skillset to other players in the league.
If EA Sports wants to give players a truly authentic feel of what it's like to build an NFL roster, then adding some of these features would go a long way towards accomplishing that. It would allow people to make well-informed decisions on which players to draft and give the game a more immersive feel.
The same could be said for adding assistant coaches. Previous Madden games have only allowed players to change the head coach and coordinators, but people could truly craft a full staff with the option of hiring assistants. Maybe they could come with certain perks like increasing a quarterback's awareness or a running back's speed. Either way, adding either of these features to Franchise mode would add more authenticity to the game as a whole.
5. Street-style game mode.
People who were gamers in the mid-2000s likely remember the popular game NFL Street, which debuted in 2004. The game had the same basic rules as Madden, but the players wore street clothes instead of uniforms in 7-on-7 games, and gamers could earn style points by wall jumping or taunting the other team.
Some of those features could exist in a game mode for Madden 21. The latest versions of NBA Live and FIFA already have street game modes where gamers can travel to different venues and play in street clothes, so the idea isn't too far fetched.
Madden 20 introduced the Superstar KO game mode, which is essentially a shorter version of a regular game and allows for gamers to pair players from different teams to the franchise. A street ball version of that game could be integrated into Superstar KO with gamers drafting their offense and defense for a 7-on-7 matchup. It could even have a variation of style points for jukes, cuts or spectacular catches.
NFL Street is unlikely to get rebooted, but sprinkling in some of its features could give the latest Madden game a new wrinkle.
6. Cross play between Xbox and PlayStation.
The rivalry between Xbox and PlayStation gamers is intense; ever since the original Xbox console debuted in 2001, there has been an ongoing debate on which console is better. Perhaps the easiest answer to this dispute would be to pit them against each other.
Cross-platform play has been around for a while now. There's a long list of games that offer the feature in some form, but it includes popular games like Fortnite, Call of Duty and Minecraft.
With cross-platform play, people wouldn't have to worry about buying a certain console just because their friends had chosen an Xbox or PlayStation. It would bridge the two communities together and create more competition during online games.
There is a chance the with game developers working from home like most of the country, a feature like cross-platform play might a little too ambitious for this year's rendition of Madden. But if they were to somehow pull it off, it could be a massive win for EA Sports and gamers alike.
7. A higher throw power rating for Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Every Redskins fan should know by now that Dwayne Haskins Jr. can launch the football. He has shown that at the college and professional level that he can send the ball sailing down the field with relative ease. It's time Haskins was rewarded for that effort.
EA Sports' website lists Haskins as tied for 18th in throw power with a rating of 89. Just ahead of him are the likes of Tom Brady Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo, who have a rating of 90. Buffalo Bills' quarterback Josh Allen has the game's strongest arm with a 99 rating.
Haskins does not deserve to jump all the way up to a 99, but his arm strength certainly deserves to be bumped ahead of Brady, Winston and the other two signal-callers directly in front of him. Giving him a throw power of 91 would put him with Russell Wilson and Derek Carr.
After all, there aren't many quarterbacks in the league today that throw the ball about 50 yards downfield like he did against the New York Jets in Week 11.
8. A higher tackle rating for Cole Holcomb.
There are currently eight players on the Redskins' defense who have a higher tackle rating than Holcomb's 77: Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Jon Bostic and Thomas Davis Sr.
Only Davis had more tackles last year, and it was just seven more than Holcomb's 105. His rating should, and likely will go up in Madden 21.
For a player who doesn't even have a photo on the actual game, Holcomb played well in 2019, leading all rookies in tackles across 16 games (15 starts). After tying Bostic -- the team's highest-rated tackler, according to Madden's standards -- in tackles, that should be more than enough to earn a rating increase.
It's unknown how the people in charge of calculating player ratings value Holcomb's rookie tackling performance, but it's indisputable that he performed as well as Bostic, who currently has a tackle rating of 88. If we're going by last year's numbers, then it would be fair for Holcomb to have an 88 as well. We'll have to wait until the official ratings come out to get a clear answer.
9. A create-a-play feature.
Madden 20 offers gamers an abundance of control over playbooks. Through the customize feature, they can mix and match plays from other teams to create a playbook that is completely their own. There's even an option to assign audibles.
Imagine if they took that one step further in Madden 21 by allowing custom plays. Not only would gamers be able create a playbook that match their style, but they could also do the same with individual plays by designing routes, blocking schemes and running lanes.
Maybe you want to create a play that is specifically made for McLaurin, or maybe you want Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff, and Chase Roullier to pull block at the same time. You could even make a play that involves a triple reverse and a flea flicker while Haskins is open down the sideline. All of those options would be achievable.
Of course, Madden is all about creating a realistic game, so the feature might be too much of a gimmick. Still, it would certainly be fun to see what people could come up with.
10. The integration of analytics on offense.
The field of analytics is growing in the NFL with some teams dedicating entire departments to it. Teams like the Baltimore Ravens used statistical-driven analysis to have some of the highest success rates for third- and four-down conversions.
With more and more teams starting to dabble in analytics, implementing a feature that allows gamers to use them in Madden 21 could make for a more immersive experience. Imagine this scenario: you came two yards short of a first down on your opponents 37-yard line. You decide to go for it instead of kicking a field goal or punting. What play should you choose?
As you scroll through the playbook, there is some sort of gauge that tells you how successful each play would be based on how your opponent has played against each formation. It wouldn't be a guarantee that the play would work, but you have would know that the play you called would have a good chance of helping you stay on the field.
Ron Rivera is known as "Riverboat Ron" for his gambles that he takes on fourth-down plays. Think of how great it would be if you knew the chances of those gambles paying off.