Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Putting the Defensive AI to "a" Test

This whole packaging thing got me thinking so I fired up Madden 09. My settings from last year were still there so I played a quick quarter with the Browns. The 88 rated Browns. Sigh.

So anyway, I called the exact same play literally every snap -- 3 wide Z Follow. Basically a crossing/underneath route to the slot receiver.

Now, would I ever do this in a 'real' game? No. I find no joy in that at all. But it is a fairly good way to test how the AI reacts to what you're doing.

In Madden 09: it doesn't react. At all. Derek Anderson marched the Browns 85 yards on 12 or so plays; Joe Jurevicius caught like 9 balls and a TD. That underneath cross route had the AI completely flummoxed. It can't guard it. It is, in the clearest sense of the word: a money play vs the AI. Need 10 yards? Call Z Follow.

Now, Madden 10. I had not played a franchise game yet, just simmed some stuff so I decided to play a franchise game (preseason) with the game I had simmed. So it's the Browns circa 2010.

The playbooks are different -- I don't have Z Follow but I do have a play that is similar. The slot receiver doesn't run as deep as he does on Z Follow in Madden 09, but he still runs an underneath route about 5 yards beyond the LOS.

I called nothing but that play. I wanted to see if the AI would notice "hey he's only running this one play" and if the AI would ever run a Nickel.

Here was the sequence:

First play I was called for holding. heh.

1st and 20: they bring out the nickel and I complete the pass for 5 yards.

2nd and 15: they call a zone/nickel. Massaquoi catches the pass for 12 yards.

3rd and 3: Base set. No Nickel back. Massaquoi gets open for a first down catch of 8 yards. LB had no shot.

1st and 10: Base D. No nickel back. The LB was lined up over Massaquoi. Quinn fires it over his head. Incomplete. He was open. Quinn just misfired. Massaquoi is now fatigued. (number in red)

2nd and 10: Cribbs checks in as slot WR. Nickel defense. Defended very well, pass incomplete. Should have been picked, really.

3rd and 10: Dime set. Massaquoi back in and is open underneath, makes the catch for 8 yards.

I punt.

I get the ball back

1st and 10: No nickel: Massaquoi catches a 5 yard pass tackled immediately.

2nd and 5: No Nickel. Quinn misses badly -- LB jammed Massaquoi taking him out of the play.

3rd and 5: Nickel defense. Nickel back blitzes. Massaquoi is wide open -- should be a first down and he has some room to run, but he drops it.

I punt.

I've played the game quite a bit at this point and I still think the defensive playcalling needs a shot in the arm -- it needs to look at your team's personnel and not just the down and distance, which is what it looks like it's doing. It will run a pass defense if you need yardage but it's just as likely to call a base 4-3 on 3rd and 7.

I also think the crossing routes are still a touch too easy (seems like every football game ever made suffers from this) and that the swing pass to the HB isn't defended as well as it needs to be. But -- it's better than Madden 09. By a lot.