Look alive, rookies! You may think you've played Madden before. Heck, you may even think you played well. But if you want to stand a turkey's chance on Thanksgiving, you better listen and listen good, because Madden NFL 08 is loaded…with weapons.
Sit down, Tank Johnson, we're not talking AKs, we're talking weapons on two legs that break open games and score touchdowns, weapons with names like Manning, Bush, and Lewis. And you know what's inside of these gridiron war machines? More weapons.
Twenty-four of them, to be exact. Now pay attention, because we're only going to say this once: The weapons in Madden 08 are not players, they're traits. Since the game hasn't shipped at the time of writing, we don't know if these will blow you away or misfire completely. But just in case they're as dangerous as their in-game poster boys suggest, read on. You may just learn something that'll save your virtual neck, and you might even have a little fun. And if this feature tickles your fancy, make sure and check out our Madden NFL 08 Launch Center for more videos, interviews, previews and information than you can shake a hashmark at.
The following are Madden NFL 08's offensive weapons, plus the players that, according to EA Sports, exemplify each of them. On the next page, we'll have defensive and special teams weapons, so make sure and follow the link. Alright, break!
Peyton ManningTeam: Indianapolis Colts
Counter: Athletic trainers?
Arguably, the last time Peyton Manning misread a signal, he was a Tennessee Volunteer mooning a nonplussed and litigious female athletic trainer. Whoops! That personal foul cost him big, but since then Manning's become a pro at reading people, especially the ones lined up on the other side of the football. He's so good that he and other Smart QBs will be able to "read" the zones, blitzes, and coverage of any play called at least four times by the defense. With that kind of insight, it'll be awfully hard to catch a Smart QB with his pants down.
Cannon Arm QB
Brett FavreTeam: Green Bay Packers
Brett Favre is defined by his generosity. He's given time and money to aid Hurricane Katrina victims, he's donated at least one sack to Michael Strahan, and closest to the subject of Madden, he's unbelievably generous with the heat on his passes. The cannon may be old, but by golly, it still fires. If you're playing with Brett Favre, or another Cannon Arm QB, just slam the receiver button down and hold it there for a laser beam of a pass. Cannon Arm balls may not always land where they're meant to, but they travel far, and make great time.
Drew BreesTeam: New Orleans Saints
Counter: Pass Rush
Drew Brees has had a topsy-turvy career. He began sharing snaps in San Diego with Doug Flutie, almost lost his job to Eli Manning, had a great season, really did lose his job to Phillip Rivers, nearly sued his own mother, then landed in New Orleans and took the formerly hapless Saints past the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs. Whew! Despite all this, Brees never fails to throw steady, accurate passes, providing Sunday certainty to the people of Louisiana. With Brees, or any other accurate passer, hitting your receivers perfectly in stride is as easy as leading with the left stick and tapping a button. Just make sure and watch out for the pass rush.
Walter JonesTeam: Seattle Seahawks
Children: Walterius and Waleria
From a quarterback's standpoint, Walter Jones is a hero. But to defensive linemen, the man is a scoundrel. His brutal pancake block (up on the right stick) and nasty cut block (down on the right stick) can tear through multiple defenders, clearing the way for a running back and opening lanes for a passer. Sure, the extraordinary blocker may have a tougher time than usual against Finesse Move D-Linemen, but he'll usually give much more punishment than his quarterback takes.
Crushing Run Blocker
Jonathan OgdenTeam: Baltimore Ravens
Nickname: Big Boy
Jonathan Ogden could have been an Olympic shot-putter, but instead he chose to put big shots on defensive linemen and linebackers in the NFL. With cut and pancake blocks, Crushing Run Blockers can clear a path all the way to the end zone for their running backs. Their dominance is somewhat matched by Power Move D-Linemen, but anyone else is roadkill.
Reggie BushTeam: New Orleans Saints
Nicknames: The President, Baby Matrix
"The President" may not fit Reggie Bush well, especially considering the royal ring of his real name, Reginald Alfred Bush II. But the other, "Baby Matrix", fits like a leather trench coat. Why? He moves like they do. And you can, too, as long as you have an Elusive Back behind the ball. With a casual flick of the right stick, you'll pull off moves as effortlessly as Baby Matrix makes them look. Interestingly, Reggie Bush is not the most elusive back in the game, in spite of his poster-boy status in Madden NFL 08. LaDainian Tomlinson is slipperier, with an evasion rating of 99 to Bush's 98. Must be the nicknames.
Stiff Arm Ball Carrier
Laurence MaroneyTeam: New England Patriots
Hobby: Video games
Little is known about Laurence Maroney aside from these few facts: He loves Scooby Snacks, his nickname is "Kool-Aid", and he runs like a beast. While the Scooby Snacks detail creates more questions than answers (Scooby Snacks are real?), Maroney's powerful running and retro nickname go together like sugar and water. After all, Maroney goes through defenses like the Kool-Aid Man through a brick wall. One of the primary ingredients in this explosive concoction is a big dose of the stiff arm, which Stiff Arm Ball Carriers will be able shoot into the faces or throats of oncoming defenders with a tap of the A button. Now that's kool.
Larry JohnsonTeam: Kansas City Chiefs
Larry Johnson's relationship with former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil has been turbulent, as evinced when Vermeil told Johnson to "Take the diapers off." Sounds like someone's projecting. Besides, if diapers had anything to do with Larry Johnson rushing for 1,789 yards on 416 carries last year, we'd like to know what brand and where to buy them. But they didn't. No, the credit goes to Larry Johnson's unbelievable knack for hitting defenders harder than they hit him, which you'll be able to harness with a flick of the right (a.k.a. Truck) stick. Watch out, though, because Big Hitters and Brick Wall Defenders can give even the best Power Backs a bad case of diaper rash.
Marvin HarrisonTeam: Indianapolis Colts
Counter: The Spotlight
You'd think every receiver in the NFL was a Hands Receiver. After all, how else are they going to catch the ball? But they don't all have hands like Marvin Harrison. His daring digits catch all passes, not just the really good ones. Sure, it probably helps that one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league is throwing him the ball. Then again, maybe Peyton Manning only seems so accurate because he's throwing to a Hands Receiver like Marvin Harrison.
Hines WardTeam: Pittsburgh Steelers
Tattoo: Mickey Mouse
In the NFL, a "Possession Receiver" is a player with good hands who doesn't usually get far after a catch. It's kind of a backhanded compliment, because most receivers would like to think they're a threat to score anytime they have the ball. In Madden 08, though, the Possession Receiver weapon is a high compliment, meaning a player will make great catches in traffic and rarely cough up the ball on a hit. Hines Ward, Chad Johnson, Marvin Harrison, and Steve Smith are all considered Possession Receivers, just to put things in perspective. Be careful, though, even the best receivers will drop a pass if blasted by a Big Hitter.
Torry HoltTeam: Saint Louis Rams
Nickname: Big Game. Get it? He plays for the Rams!
Quick Receivers like Torry Holt are the guys you can count on to make room with their sharp routes, and get open. These guys make life easy for quarterbacks, and hell for corners. Well, most of them. A nasty Shutdown Corner will stick to even the quickest receiver like glue, so if you see one matched up with your star route-runner, try to move him around and create a mismatch. These guys are too valuable to waste.
Spectacular Catch Receiver
Chris ChambersTeam: Miami Dolphins
Exhibit A: Various Internet videos
Spectacular Catch Receivers are the high-flyers of the NFL, players who view coverage not as an obstacle, but as a chance to shine. In the clutch, when the defense knows you're going to pass the ball, throw it in a Spectacular Catch Receiver's general direction--he has the best chance to come down with the ball, and is probably better with one hand than most corners and safeties are with two. These athletes will benefit from the coolest, most over-the-top animations in Madden, but they'll also set themselves up for the biggest hits.
Is there a weapon you'd like to see? Leave a comment!
Points win games, but only if you score more than your competitor. That's where defense comes into play. The following weapons can shut down opposing receivers, stop rampant rushers, flush pocket passers, and kill the will of the other team. They may not run your score up, but they will run your opponents down. They include the likes of Ray Lewis, Champ Bailey, and Dwight Freeney; in other words, the guys who bring the hits to a football game.
And let us not forget special teams. These weapons may have the least glamorous roles in the NFL, yet entire seasons rest on their shoulders, er, feet.
Sean TaylorTeam: Washington Redskins
His teammates call him "Meast", a portmanteau of "Man" and "Beast" (as well as Metal Breast, Mean Yeast, and Meat Feast). He runs like a cheetah, hits like a rhino, and spits like a cobra (just ask Michael Pittman), and he is definitely the kind of player you want to stay away from both on and off the field. He's a Big Hitter. One shot from a guy like Sean Taylor could change a possession, a ballgame, or even a career. If you see one coming, run the other way, lest your player be meceased.
Brick Wall Defender
Ray LewisTeam: Baltimore Ravens
Early accomplishments: Erased father
Off the field, Lewis recently donated lots of wheelchairs, crutches, and prosthetics to the needy. On the field, he's just as thoughtful, donating lots of people to needy wheelchairs, crutches, and prosthetics…he's not just a great player, he's a great human being. And if you're a running back who wants to continue being human, you'll want to steer clear of defenders like Lewis. Their diving tackles are quick, cover lots of ground, and instantly stop all but the most elusive backs dead in their tracks. And unlike Lewis, most Brick Wall defenders won't pay for the wheelchair they put you in.
Finesse Move D-Lineman
Dwight FreeneyTeam: Indianapolis Colts
Not only is Dwight Freeney one of the smartest players in the NFL (he scored a 35 on the Wonderlic), he's the highest-paid defensive player ever. Coincidence? Probably. As much as we like the thought of Freeney spouting Melville at opposing offensive linemen ("From hell's heart, I stab at thee! Vituperous scallywag!"), his fancy spin moves speak louder than words, and at 268 pounds, he hits harder than a library stack. With the push of a button, you can carry Freeney (or any other less cerebral Finesse Move D-Lineman) around opponents while adding your own sophisticated soundtrack to the ensuing quarterback sack.
Power Move D-Lineman
John HendersonTeam: Jacksonville Jaguars
Celebrity He Most Resembles: Cthulhu
Dig just a little on the internets, and you won't find much on John Henderson. He hasn't been arrested, isn't a genius, and didn't name his daughter "Johnita." Dig a little deeper, though, particularly on Internet video sites, and you'll uncover the truth: John Henderson is insane. Before games, his trainer hits him in the mouth until he bleeds, then he shrieks down the tunnel like a madman. Just imagine lining up against him. You're used to the normal trash talk, but can anything prepare you for a 325-pound man bleeding from the mouth, gibbering about blood and chaos, and staring at you with mad eyes? Probably not, and it doesn't help that Power Move D-Linemen like Henderson have awesome moves that dominate all but the most stalwart run blockers. Be afraid.
Press Coverage Corner
Al HarrisTeam: Green Bay Packers
Counter: Quick Receiver
With a simple button tap, these corners can press receivers at the line, throwing off the fine timing of their routes. Almost no one is better at this than Al Harris, who allowed only one touchdown in coverage for all of 2006. So who got by him? Torry Holt, Madden's archetypal Quick Receiver, which happens to be the only weapon class capable of coping with a Press Coverage Corner's heat. If you see one of these guys on anyone but an awesome receiver, throw somewhere else.
Champ BaileyTeam: Denver Broncos
Real name: Roland
Shutdown corners like Champ Bailey have the best swat and intercept moves in the game. Their hands are so good and they're so fast, we aren't sure why they aren't receivers. Whatever the reason, these players are a quarterback's worst nightmare because they're able to completely dominate a side of the field, leaving the other side to the undivided attention of their teammates. That is, unless the quarterback can count on a Quick Receiver to get open.
Ty Law, Zach Thomas, and Darren SharperPositions: Linebacker, Corner, Safety
Like Smart QBs, these players can read various aspects of any offensive play called four times in a game. Smart linebackers, for example, can see what the backfield will do. Corners, on the other hand, can see which routes the receivers will run, and Safeties are the smartest of all--they can see the entire play. The best offense against such good defense is a varied playbook. Forget your bread and butter, because after you call it four times, it'll suddenly be their bread and butter.
Adam VinatieriTeam: Indianapolis Colts
Nicknames: Automatic Adam, Iceman
Whether they're kicking a routine extra point or a game-winning field goal, these guys are spot-on. And no kicker is more accurate than Adam "Iceman" Vinatieri. He's a third cousin to Evel Knievel, so you know the guy has nerves of steel and a foot to match. This may not be the most glamorous position, but it may win the most games, and it has no counter.
Big Foot Kicker
Sebastian JanikowskiTeam: Oakland Raiders
Nicknames: Polish Powderkeg, Sea Bass, Lightning Feet
It says a lot that Oakland's only featured weapon in Madden NFL 08 is a kicker--after all, Oakland kickers get lots of practice. Not that Sebastian Janikowski needs it; he kicked a 60-yard field goal…in high school. And Janikowski doesn't just kick balls, he kicks ass, having been in quite a few bar fights over the years. If football games are won with field position, Big Foot kickers like Janikowski can deliver for you.
Devin HesterTeam: Chicago Bears
Nicknames: The Windy City Flyer, Anytime
We had a tough time deciding where to place this weapon, given that it can apply to offense, defense, and even special teams. That's why Devin Hester is the perfect poster-player. Last year as a rookie, his blazing speed carried him to a record six returns for touchdowns, making him one of the most valuable special-teams players in the league. But this year, his offensive play in camp has already led John Mullin, a Bears beat-writer, to dub the camp "The Devin Hester Experience." Speed is good at every position, and so is Devin Hester. With just one push of a button, your speedy players will hit the afterburners and leave their opponents in the dust.
So there you have it, an arsenal fit for a gridiron army, all at your fingertips in Madden NFL 08. If you want to know which players have which weapons, check out this list over at Sportsgamer.com. However, if you'd like to learn more about some of the players, particularly their views on their Madden ratings, check out this video. It's a good time. Speaking of which, we hope you enjoyed reading this feature, and we'll see you on the field. Now hit the showers!
Is there a weapon you'd like to see? Leave a comment!