In the NFL, managing a successful organization is a balancing act. You have fan expectations, owner expectations, player expectations, morale, and finances to balance. Often times, too much success or too much failure results in this balance being thrown off. As a result, teams generally have trouble staying together for extended periods of time (Ravens, Giants, Patriots some of the successful teams that have had trouble hanging onto talent, while the Eagles and Chiefs are examples of the lesser successful teams having the same issues for different reasons). I’ll start by saying that my single biggest issue with CCM mode is how easy it is to both build a team up, and keep a team intact. While you may be think that this theme is relatively unimportant, rest assured that there are dynamics to this theme that will encompass every major complaint I have with CCM mode (which, for the record, I love). Below I’ve organized 10 areas to realistically replicate this balancing act; in so doing, create the most realistic representation of a sports franchise to date. So without further ado, here is an outline of my suggestions. Please forgive the outline of this, as the formatting got screwed up while importing it from Word. 1. Expectations Darelle Revis expected to be the highest paid DB in the NFL. As a result, the Jets sought a trade. -Expectations drive everything in this league – from money spent in free agency, to contracts given and received, to fan support and loyalty. It’s important they begin to play an integral role in how a franchise operates. Owner expectations -Taking the concept of “team goals” and elevating it, owners should have different personalities – and their expectations should reflect those accurately. Daniel Snyder (Redskins) loves to spend big money in free agency, Mark Murphey (Packers) does not. -Owners in bigger markets (NY, Dallas, and Philadelphia) generally want to win now, whereas smaller market team owners have the luxury of being a bit more patient. Even still, some of these owners have proven themselves to be more loyal than others, irrespective of market. -Owners should have dynamic personalities that shape their goals, and thus their happiness with you. In Madden 13, it’s hard to gauge when you may be fired. If they were to incorporate a way to measure the owner’s happiness, you’d have a better sense of what’s going on. Coach Expectations -This one is essential, and you’ll see why later. Basically, before each season, a coach needs to set his expectations for different positions. Their goals and progression should be linked with these expectations. You’ll see what I mean when you get to my recommendations for progression. -Coaches need personalities, not just a designated tag (Strategist, Team Builder). As much as I loved that addition, they need to personalize and flesh this idea out more Fan Expectations -An entirely separate, though similar, measure to expectations. Eagle fans are notoriously impatient, while New York fans are unreasonable (Tom Coughlin on the hot seat seemingly every year). It should be more difficult to coach these teams, period. Fan expectations should directly influence attendance and team morale. Philly fans aren't the most patient Player expectations -Some QBs accept their role as a backup, while others are more ambitious and gunning for a starting role. Some players accept roles on special teams, others want immediate roles on offense or defense. Darelle Revis expected to be the highest paid defensive back in the NFL, and Joe Flacco the highest paid QB. -Some players require you to make a long-term commitment to them, while others are ok not being extending or signing shorter deals. -Give the coach or GM the ability to make certain promises (like NCAA), such as will start, or will get a certain number of snaps. Ability to complete those goals will help/hurt a player's happiness, and thus his willingness to resign. 2. Player preferences -First of all, I know that a “player character” element is off limits for Madden, as the NFL doesn’t approve. There are ways to compensate for this, however, as a player should have a unique set of preferences that directly impacts his happiness (which, in turn, impacts team chemistry and resignings). -Some players demand big money, others want a big market. Some just want an opportunity be on a winning team, while others just want an opportunity to start. Players also mesh with different types of coaches, and should potentially have preferences as far as a coach is concerned. Lastly, players should have positional preferences. Look at what happens to Brandon Albert when they want to move him to RT? -Players should have scheme preferences catered to their skillset. -These have obvious effects while courting certain players in free agency. 3. Player happiness Brandon Albert didn't take too kindly to the franchise tag, nor the idea of being moved to RT -Player happiness is a must. Instead of “team prestige,” a metric which was broken anyways, a player’s signability should be a result of player happiness and preferences. Happiness is a direct reflection of team morale, coach/player dynamics, and how many of his preferences are being met (and to what degree). -If a player wants to be in a big market, chances are he won’t resign with Kansas City. -If a player isn’t happy with his playing time, chances are he won’t resign. -As it stands now, too many of these things are seemingly arbitrary. -Most importantly, player happiness needs to be dynamic. If you have a backup HB who isn’t getting enough touches, but doing a lot with those limited touches? He should potentially go from being happy to unhappy, as he feels he deserves a chance (if not here, elsewhere). 4. Team Morale/Chemistry Ray Lewis is a team leader and mentor. He inspired a struggling Ravens team, and propelled them to a championship. -I enjoy the role that hot streaks/cold streaks plays in this iteration, but wins and losses can still seem arbitrary (while seeming or seeing other CPU games). In the first year of a CCM I started by myself, CPU Jacksonville went to the Super Bowl. While awesome to see that level of unpredictability, there needs to be a metric to understand this. -Player happiness and team leaders should impact chemistry. Chemistry should impact team hot streaks/cold streaks. 5. Scheme implementation 2.0 -I’ve been pounding the table for schemes to be incorporated into football games for years. While I was thrilled Madden 13 did so, I was less than pleased with its seemingly artificial impact. -There need to be real, tangible consequences and rewards for finding a guy that fits your scheme…not just an artificial overall drop. -A player should struggle to develop in the wrong scheme with the wrong coaches. Vernon Gholston anyone? -Having said that, there need to be players that can play multiple schemes. Dion Jordan and Kenny Vacarro are two players who can do a bunch of different things, these players should exist. Otherwise, there just won’t be enough quality players to fit what you do. -A player with high awareness should be able to transition schemes if you pump xp into this (scheme transition should be an upgrade). A player with low awareness should not. Coming out of Ohio State, many pundits thought Vernon Gholston would struggle in a 34 scheme. They were right. 6. Contracts -First and foremost, contracts need to be re-evaluated to replicate those in real life. As of now, it seems they aren’t as high. -Guaranteed money – player bonus demands aren’t nearly high enough. -Contract extensions: A must. If you want to make your star QB happier, secure his future with an extension, avoiding FA altogether. Some players should actively look for extensions. If they don’t get them, they should be increasingly unhappy. - Holdouts should exist, but only rarely and with star players. -A contract shouldn’t relate to overall; rather, it should be a combination of production, market value, overall, player role, and player expectations. -Some players should simply have unrealistic expectations as far as contracts are concerned. 7. Progression -My first suggestion is a big change – HIDE THE DEVELOPMENT RATING AND MAKE IT UNABLE TO BE UPRGRADED. I can’t even begin to tell you what a positive impact this would have on the game. -In real life, it’s very difficult to gauge someone's “ceiling,” nor does it ever change. Perhaps you draft a player who isn’t a scheme fit and doesn’t progress the way you want. Not knowing he has superstar development, you let him go and he excels elsewhere. This would create some really cool and realistic storylines and situations. -If a player is behind a team mentor (ie Peyton Manning), they should progress behind said player, even though they don’t accumulate stats. There’s no reason to believe Brock Osweiller won’t flourish once Peyton is gone. Just because he’s holding a clipboard doesn’t mean he’s not progressing. -Individual stats don’t say it all. What if you have a rookie nose guard who is dominating in the trenches by doing his job and eating up space? Sure, he won’t get tackles or sacks, but he should be progressing based on his coaches expectations. Expect him to be a space eater and help in the run game? All of his goals should be related to your team’s rushing defense. -Injuries need to play more of a role in development. The injury rating should be dynamic, and have the opportunity to slow down a promising career – even if the player starts with A injury and just gets unlucky -Practice mode. BRING BACK MINI-CAMP DRILLS! -Don’t allow a player to run the same practice twice in a season. -Once a player quits a practice, they cannot re-enter for that week. -Initial overall just simply shouldn’t be as important; player development is what needs to distinguish one player from another. 8. Scouting and The Draft Alfred Morris was considered a "gem" in the 2012 NFL Draft. I would argue, however, his surprise production was less about overall talent, and more about fitting into Washington's zone running scheme perfectly. -The storylines were a fantastic addition in 13. I’d like as many of these as possible. -Scouting itself needs to be more of an art, and less of an exact science. You need to hire and upgrade scouts, who have different strengths, weaknesses, and regions. Scout A might be a northeast scout who specializes in quarterbacks, whereas Scout B is a west coast scout specializing in defensive lineman. -Individual ratings should rarely be exact, and their accuracy should be tied to a scouts overall strength and specialty. Even the best scout in his region scouting his specialty shouldn’t be able to hit a guy’s ratings 100 percent. -A scout should only be able to scout players in a specific region. This would make the draft process way more unpredictable and interesting. -Bring back individual workouts and pro days. Be designated a certain number of guys you can scout more heavily. -Upgraded draft presentation. It should take place in Radio City Music Hall with live commentary and analysis following each pick. Boos/cheers should ensue based on fan expectations, as fans should have preferences for what positions you target, just like in real life. -A high profile pick fans don’t approve of should result in a temporary drop in fan happiness (think Eagles passing on Ricky Williams for Donovan McNabb) -Jersey acceptance/on stage presentation for first round picks with the Commissioner. -The draft MUST be more top heavy. All projected first rounders should have relatively high overalls. -In Madden 13, there are way too many *gems*. There are thousands of people scouting these players and evaluating them, very rarely should one fall through the cracks that has a high overall rating -Gems should become gems because they are a good scheme fit and develop quickly in the right situation (not saying there should be more picks later with high development). - Pick projections need to be based of real life positional value. Guards and running backs, for instance, aren’t typically valued as high as T or DE. I’m tired of seeing so many running backs be projected top 10 picks. -Would be cool to see multiple projections (Mayock, Kiper, McShay) and various first round mock drafts. -Draft preview show with draft needs -Draft recap show with draft grades 9. CPU AI -CPU doesn’t handle 1st round picks well. There never seems to be a whole lot of urgency to get them involved, or keep them after their rookie deal expires. In my CCM, two former top 10 QBs, both of whom were successful starters, weren’t resigned…as was a pro bowl CB. -CPU teams forfeit 1st round picks too easily. I've routinely see a team acquire 3-4 first round picks in one draft by trading down. A team should only trade up if there’s a player they think they need. It seems like EA just arbitrarily makes them trade, such that we can see lots of movement (with is cool, but the movement is too top-heavy) -Draft logic: while vastly improved, I still see head-scratching moves. In my most recent draft, the Jets took running backs in the first and second rounds. I’ve also seen teams take the same position (ie QB) in the first round two years in a row. 10. The Devil's in the Details -Can’t change a playbook once you create your coach. -Run/pass ratio can’t be changed as well. -Cannot edit the equipment of rookies. -Players wear long-sleeves in 90+ degree weather. -Overall, attendance logic needs an overhaul. In real life, seldom does a team fail to sell out its home opener. Also, inclement weather effects attendance too much (especially the snow). -Commentary to reflect current state of the franchise. As it stands now, they still talk about how Eli Manning just came off a Super Bowl win 5 years into CCM mode. -Commentary to include names of rookies and include both current NFL storylines and their specific college storylines. -More player silhouettes for rookies. -A player’s skin tone to match his silhouette (there are some that do not). -Fix wind direction being flipped in online CCM.