Thursday, December 2, 2010

Some Suggestions for Madden NFL '12

On Sunday night, as the Indianapolis Colts hosted the San Diego Chargers, I watched in amazement as San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers took off and ran up the left side of the field. It was a smart play; Indianapolis' coverage in the secondary was all over his receivers but was also drawn far back enough to allow him about ten easy rushing yards. What was startling to watch, though, was that Rivers squared his shoulders and ran toward the left sideline for a few steps, turned at the waist to make his shoulders face upfield, as if looking to make a throw, then squared his shoulders to the left again, then lifted his head and looked upfield again, then back to the left, then back upfield — again and again, seemingly after every second step.

Right then, I had one simple epiphany: "He needs to do jazz hands."

It was one of those plays that seems totally normal until you watch a lot of football. To the disinterested person at the sports bar, to the wife stuck with this shit on, in the background, for yet another Sunday, it was just predictable. Rivers was going to get the first down. Other people weren't there; he ran. That was that. It was how he ran that looked ridiculous. Just as he appeared seriously focused on the sideline, his whole body twisted upfield and seemed uplifted, as if he were gleefully shouting, "HEL-LO!" If he was playing against anybody, it was the Jets — not the team from New Jersey but the gang from West Side Story. If you told me that he'd actually been snapping his fingers left and right in rhythm, I would have to believe you.

We need to add something like this to the next iteration of the Madden game franchise. Madden already has too many buttons. There's stiff-arm left and right; there's spin-move left and right; there's run faster, jump up, and dive. You can scrap at least two of those buttons. A generic stiff-arm or spin adjusted for the direction of surrounding players is enough. There is absolutely no reason for there not to be a button whose sole purpose is to be fabulous.

Singling out one action is probably a bad idea, though. Jazz hands or snappin' are all well and good when other players are far away from you, but you have to be mindful of ball security. Up close, someone you're playing against could use the HIT STICK and cause a fumble. That's why I'm actually proposing a "Vamp" button. It automatically adjusts the player action in relation to the proximity of defenders, the speed of the runner, and the direction in which he's going. Early suggestions for Vamping include:
Going Side to Side — Chaplin Walk
Running in Traffic — Groucho Walk
Running North/South Slowly — Charleston (fingerwagging only added when crossing goal line)
Running North/South Quickly — Tap
Before the Snap — Offensive Line Can-Can (avoids false-start penalty due to offensive line's superior knowledge of blocking, as pioneered by UC-Busby Berkeley Left Guard Gene "Kelly" Upshaw)
4th Down — Gentlemen Punters off on a Spree (trademark Bob "Fosse" Malone)
Wildcats Offense — Brandon Lloyd Webber Takes Direct Snap
Now, I know what you're thinking: isn't this just like the Improv Button you recommended adding for Madden NFL '11? That's a good question, but there you're mistaken. The Improv Button was a defense-only button used before the snap. Also, it could only be used to assign a style of play for the offense when it was running a no-huddle. They're totally different. This is worse than the time everyone totally misinterpreted my suggestion for the Pants-Pooping Button, which would have revolutionized everything.