I know the video game updates aren’t for everyone, but I’ve got a dirty little secret for ya’ll. I’ve been playing in a Connected Franchise Madden league with one of my best friends for over a decade now. We reset teams as each new game comes out, making us part of the foolish population that lines EA’s pockets despite their woeful neglect of the original Franchise mode that Madden built it’s foundation on.
Before I found Bolts From the Blue and was able to engage with fans regarding real life team-building scenarios, it was Madden that scratched that itch for me. Chasing down Super Bowls with LT, lamenting over the game force-retiring Lorenzo Neal years before he ended up walking from the game, and building serviceable offensive lines around Philip Rivers were homework-break staples in high school for me.
This is the first year safety Derwin James has reached the #1 spot, and the highest overall rating he’s had in the game to start a season. Joey Bosa (91 overall), Khalil Mack (86), JC Jackson (86), Eric Kendricks (86), and Asante Samuel Jr (82) join him to create a very formidable and fun Chargers defense to stifle offenses with which, during frustration seasons like last year, serves a therapeutic purpose.
I don’t take a Charger-centric approach in my online Connected Franchise, but Derwin is always a staple I seek out whether I’m lucky enough to start with him or not. I love playing him in the slot - something I’d love to see Staley do more of - to help shore up the running games or shut down a playmaking tight end like Travis Kelce.
It should be interesting to see if Madden turns a corner this year, as reports came out in February that stated EA Sports developers saw this installment as a “make or break year.” I’m very excited to see what they do with NCAA Football next year, which hopefully creates further urgency and internal competition within EA Sports (since Roger Goodell handed EA an exclusive license in 2005, stifling external competition from the likes of Take Two and Sega).
If any of you are fellow gamers, feel free to drop a Gamertag in the comments and maybe we can organize some friendly competitions!