When you're promised that something's "in the game," you expect it to deliver. EA Sports had been making that guarantee since the '90s and (when it came to Madden) followed through insofar as there was running, passing, tackling, 11 guys to a side, and everything that made football technically football. In fact, shit used to be pretty simple: Buy Madden if you want realism, Blitz if you want arcade ball, and 2K (RIP) if you had a Dreamcast.
Now, life has gotten much more simple (and worse) because the league monopoly-ed 2K off of store shelves. What that means is that an entire generation has been raised with one option for watered-down virtual pigskin. A league that once had ESPN cancel a hit show because they didn't like art imitating the NFL is unlikely to make objectionable concessions for the sake of realism. With EA and the NFL operating hand-in-hand, the publisher is seemingly afraid to rock the boat of their mutually profitable relationship. So yeah, "in the game" has given us some pro plays and detailed stadiums, but beyond that EA hasn't followed through on all the peripheries of the sport.
Because the tightness of the NFL's collective ass has reached un-lampoonable heights, we know we're never going to see a truly realistic depiction of The Shield. That's a bummer because the franchise needs some new life (that was true a decade ago, actually) and ideas for new features seem to pop up nearly every week. Here's a dozen that would save EA's tagline from borderline false advertising, put together for you just in time for John Madden's 79th birthday.
Send all complaints, compliments, tips or your own Madden ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org