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Pittsburgh Steelers' ratings improve in Madden 15

After a Week 1 update, EA Sports has the Steelers already looking better than their preseason ratings.


[Edit: the comments within this article were written prior to the Steelers week 2 game.]

In August, I was able to give you a rundown of the rosters as the Steelers approached the preseason. Though the team's veterans hadn't seen any movement in their own personal ratings, the Steelers gained some helpful speed, as expected, with Ryan Shazier and Dri Archer. Veteran additions including Lance Moore, LeGarrette Blount, Derrius Heyward-Bey and Mike Mitchell also added new tools for users to exploit in the game. Despite these additions, the team's overall mark was a 78.

As of today's roster update, EA Sports clocks in the Steelers at an 81 overall; a significant upgrade due to several changes in the ratings of key players on the roster. But with the good changes came some drawbacks for other players. Here you'll find a highlights segment of what the Steelers look like now on Madden 15.

To make sorting through it easier, as there's quite a lot here, you can sort through the following topics:

Who gained a step?

EA Sports seems to have taken notice of some of the Steelers' playmakers that showed up to be heroes on Sunday.

Le'Veon Bell - Prev: 82 overall; Now: 85 overall.

Bell is undoubtedly the biggest upgrade for the Steelers with the update. He saw his speed increase by two points to match LeGarrette Blount's speed of 88, but also saw his 88 acceleration-rating increase to a 91. Both are significant to a ground game in Madden with Pittsburgh. The team's playbook doesn't contain many stellar running plays, but the few that are effective could use the extra boost of speed Bell will have here. Along with that, Bell saw increases in almost all of his receiving ratings. His catch-rating increased to 81, and his catch-in-traffic increased four points to a 74.  Should he continue to impress on game days, he may become an even more dangerous weapon in the game than he already is.

Antonio Brown - Prev: 92 overall; Now: 93 overall.

While Brown didn't get any boost to his 91 speed like Bell did, you can notice EA Sports giving a tip-of-the-hat to his football skills with their new ratings. His awareness increased by a point, while his ball carrier-vision increased by four points to a 91. This will help make it easier for him to not bump into his own blockers as he makes his way down the field on a drag route or a screen. Though neither his catch-rating, nor his route-running increased (both are 97s) a three-point boost to his catch-in-traffic rating gives him a 96 there, and the two-point increase gives him now an 89 spectacular catch-rating. Brown's talents in the game have allowed me to frustrate opposing defenses so far as he doesn't stand out to the average gamer in pre-snap adjustments, but once he gets going, he can tear the defense apart.

Markus Wheaton - Prev: 73 overall; Now: 76 overall.

I can't wait to see what this guy does this season. Neal has been telling me that Wheaton could be a nice surprise for the team this season, and I'm very interested to see how EA Sports begins to recognize Wheaton as he makes more plays for the Steelers.  Wheaton is already fast with a 93 speed, and that did not change, but EA focused on boosting his awareness to a 70, his catch to an 81 and the several minimal boosts to his route running, catch-in-traffic and spectacular catch ratings.  I already put Wheaton as the No. 2 guy in the Steelers offense and he can take the top off of defenses as is. Hopefully, we will see more and more upgrades to him as he does more and more for the Steelers this season.

Cameron Heyward - Prev: 84 overall; Now: 85 overall.

Though it doesn't look like much, EA gave across the board increases to Heyward's defensive line skills. Each of his ratings of tackle, block-shed, awareness, play recognition, pursuit and finesse moves saw marginal increases to allow him to be more of a playmaker on the line. I think what EA probably saw was his sack on Cleveland's final drive that kept Pittsburgh in a position to be able to win the game and thought, "aw what the heck, give him a few points."  Heyward is your best option as a Steeler on the defensive line to stop the run or shed a block to disrupt timing plays. If he continues to increase in Madden he could become what Aaron Smith was to this team in Madden not too long ago.

Maurkice Pouncey - Prev: 88 overall; Now 90 overall.

Pouncey's ratings in Madden in his time with the Steelers have fluctuated more than the Cleveland Brown's starting quarterback situation.  His first season saw incredible boosts to be a great rookie that might offer some hope for the running game in Madden, but his injuries have led to EA not keeping them what they once were. After the offensive line looked a lot better this weekend, Pouncey joins Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Troy Polamalu as the only Steelers with 90+ ratings.  His awareness increased to an 81, crucial for a center in Madden, and his pass blocking increased to a 90.  Other changes were marginal, but these two may help the unit recognize blitzes better from your opponents.

Who lost a step?

The surprising part of this group? They're all long-time veterans.  The not-so-surprising part of this group? They're all on defense.

Troy Polamalu - Prev: 93 overall; Now: 92 overall.

When I first saw this, I thought that maybe EA just got lazy and flip-flopped Brown's overall with Polamalu, as it was our safety with the highest rating on the preseason rosters followed by Brown. Upon further review, you can see Polamalu's play-recognition rating is down a point, and his tackle decreased by two points to 70.  Though not  huge deal, a significant part of Polamalu's advantage is his ability to recognize plays and take away routes your opponent think are available to them; hopefully this doesn't become a trend.

Lawrence Timmons - Prev: 88 overall; Now: 87 overall.

I get that the Steelers' defense struggled in the second half on Sunday, and that Timmons plays on the defense, but I don't understand why so many of his ratings dropped, albeit marginally. His tackle rating dropped two points, as did his block-shed and other skill ratings. He also lost a point on both acceleration and agility, which isn't too damaging, but throws up a warning flag to me that leaves me hoping that EA doesn't think he's over-the-hill all of a sudden.  Still an effective player, but don't understand many of these changes.

Ike Taylor - Prev: 83 overall; Now 82 overall.

So if you're still reading at this point, your first thought is probably, "well he did drop an interception, so they probably decreased his catch rating or something." Wrong. His catch rating is an abysmal 40, and EA sees no need for it to be any worse.  Instead Taylor's agility and awareness ratings each lost a point, while his press rating dropped four points.  Though his cover skills didn't change other than that, it's making it more important for Cortez Allen to step up and become a serious player for the secondary.

What's the same?

Ben Roethlisberger

Thought his numbers this weekend would get him a little more of a boost? So did I, but then again EA Sports never really gave him too much other than a boosted speed rating when he was in his first 4 seasons.  Roethlisberger remains a good quarterback in Madden, but still misses on the most random throws and probably won't see more of an increase to his ratings until he puts up more numbers this season.

Ryan Shazier

Though Shazier's overall went up a point, his awareness and play recognition ratings dropped. What had to have given him the boost was two points onto his tackle rating.  Shouldn't be too bad of a hit, but hopefully his play will bring back those ratings over the next few weeks.  When you use Shazier, it's best to either control him or send him on a blitz so he doesn't get lost in coverage on his own.  You can also control him on a blitz so you can say, "HOLY CRAP! SPEED SPEED SPEED!" I've figured out a few A-gap blitzes in the game, they are really frustrating people because Shazier is so fast he beats linemen to their spots. And by lineman, I mean guards, and by spots, I mean the A-gap. That's how fast he is in this game. 92 speed? That's faster than Brown. And if I just think about dropping back into coverage, his 97 jump rating can take away seams. Though he's the same, basically, he still is a huge weapon you need for this defense to succeed.

Will Johnson

I understand that Will Johnson isn't the most prominent athlete for EA to focus on as they deal with tiny titan issues and other changes in the game. But seriously, when you think of Will Johnson, whom do you picture?

Is it this guy?


I mean sure, Will Johnson is 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds according to the Steelers' website, but HE'S DEFINITELY NEITHER BALD NOR WHITE. Solid player too, makes good blocks on dive plays in goal line situations.  But come on EA? YOU'RE TOTALLY FAKE! I'M GOING TO GO PLAY ESPN 2K5 WHEN FOOTBALL GAMES WERE REAL! (If you missed that, I used sarcasm font there.)


So far the Steelers have begun their climb to return as one of the better teams to use in Madden. I'll do my best to keep pace with the changes throughout the season. They're definitely a team you can win consistently with in the game if you play smart football. I'm 47-9 and (last I checked) ranked #5 in the PS3 overall standings. (You wouldn't believe how many people quit in the first five minutes when they can't stop a blitz). I only use the Steelers because I'm not a bandwagon Madden-user like some people out there and there are several exploits you can use to beat your opponents with the roster as is.

In the very near future, I plan to purchase a PS4 and the equipment I need to record clean gameplay to make videos for anyone who wants to know how to beat the tar out of people using the Steelers. I remember people complaining about the team in my last post about how they performed, and if anyone has questions, I'd be willing to help you figure out how to use the team better. If you're on new-gen consoles like PS4 and XBOX One, my suggestions probably won't help much as yet. Until I make the move to upgrade, please feel free to drop any questions in the comments section and I'll do my best to get back to you.