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July 17, 2020

Accessing Madden 21's awarding of Eagles superstar and X-factor abilities

NFL Eagles
090418-Wentz-Ertz_usat Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz.

For those who fit into the Venn diagram of Eagles fans and Madden video game aficionados, this article is tailor-made for you.

But even if you are not into Madden (perhaps fed up for various reasonable reasons), it is an interesting thought experiment to take a look at the Superstar X-factor attributes the game is giving to the Eagles' four top players in the latest version of the game, dropping next month.

For those unfamiliar, Madden in recent iterations has given the best players in the game specific abilities that can be triggered by said player during a game, or that automatically factor into how they perform. With none of these given to offensive lineman (which make up three of the Eagles top 10 player spots), the team has a superstar QB, TE, DE and CB in this year's game. 

Here's a look at their abilities and some thoughts as to whether they are accurate:

Carson Wentz

Sideline Deadeye: Passers with this ability have perfect accuracy on all throws outside the numbers (except on high/low throws).

Wentz is actually the only QB in the entire game with this ability. For anyone who regularly watches the Eagles, it's clear their QB can throw darts down the sideline (especially when out of the pocket). Remember this toss?

Quick Draw: Passers with this ability have faster throwing animations when under pressure.

Wentz is one of three QBs with this attribute (joining mobile signal-callers Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson). According to NFL's Next Gen Stats, Wentz has a 2.71 average release time, the 10th best in the NFL last season. 

Also in 2019, Wentz had the 15th best completion percentage under pressure (36.8%) but the year before he was absolutely incredible:

Wentz completion under pressure

Zach Ertz

Mid in EliteReceivers with this ability catch more consistently while catching passes 10-20 yards from the LoS, inside the numbers.

Now to Wentz' favorite target, for whom we probably don't need to provide much evidence to support his being an elite pass catcher in the middle of the field. Ertz averages just under 11 yards per catch over his NFL career, and is one of the best safety valves in the game.

TE ApprenticeWhen lined up at tight end, players with this ability have access to four additional hot routes during pre-play adjustments.

The versatility of Ertz lends itself to the idea that he has more routes at his disposal. This makes sense and too is a suitable superstar ability.

Fletcher Cox

Fearmonger: Some pass rushers intimidate quarterbacks with their sheer presence. When they enter the zone, they can apply significant pressure on quarterbacks even while engaged with blockers.

Cox is the lone Eagle with an X-factor ability in addition to having three superstar ones. Ask any quarterback in the NFL, this is an apt description of what Cox can do. Though his sack numbers trail those of the elite edge rushers in the game, Cox is able to take double teams to open up teammates, or to apply a ridiculous amount of pressure by simply being on the field.

Under Pressure: Defenders with this ability can apply pressure to the quarterback from a greater distance.

Cox is 6-foot-4, 310 pounds and commands a lot of attention from the peripheral vision of a quarterback who is dropping back. Having him able to apply pressure from long distance seems accurate.

El ToroDefenders with this ability will receive dominant bull rush wins when their pass rush points are full.

Watch the video below. Cox can bull rush:

Secure TacklerDefenders with this ability have a higher success rate on conservative tackles.

Cox is the lone recipient of this ability. Rarely does a player slip through his grasp. 

Darius Slay

Deep Route KODefenders with this ability force more catch tackle knockouts in man-to-man versus long routes; 20+ yards from the LoS.

We'll defer to our Eagles beat writer Jimmy Kempski on this one:

• Slay's ball skills are excellent. He almost always looks to locate the football, and either knock it away, or try to pick it off. On plays in which he was not targeted, you can see that he's able to stay in phase while also peeking back into the backfield. 

Acrobat: Defenders with this ability will dive for increased range on pass breakups and interceptions.

Slay's leaping ability is known around the league, and having Slay in coverage and swapping to him when controlling the defense in Madden — with a well timed user dive — could result in some game-changing plays.

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