Fourth down is decision time. Often, Madden NFL players make the wrong decision. For reasons unknown to football traditionalists, some people simply refuse to punt. There is a perception that punting indicates weakness and is indicative of offensive failure. Perhaps. But consider that punts flip the field position an average of 30+ yards virtually every time its called, punting is actually the most successful play in the history of football.
Punts are a unique part of a football team's toolbox. In those frustrating times when a drive stalls, punts extend the distance opponents must move the ball to get their team into scoring range. That's not the only advantage. Directional punts kill any chance of a return and in cases when the offensive struggles near midfield, a boot out of bounds inside the 20 can pin opponents in defensive scoring range.
Some may still laud the value of fourth down attempts, but have they considered that even the best return man in history, Devin Hester, has returned less than 5% of his career punt returns for touchdowns. Not even Four Verticals, a common pass play used in Madden, can claim a 30+ yard average change of field position nor a sub-5% backfire rate.
Punting is a win/win. Great coaches throughout history embraced punting as a way of life. John Heisman, the man who the famous collegiate trophy is named after, once said, "when in doubt, punt." Jim Harbaugh, former coach of the San Francisco 49ers once summed up his coaching philosophy by saying, "any drive that ends with a kick is a good drive." To that end, punting means an offensive drive did not end with a turnover. It also means punting the ball away forces opponents to drive farther than a failed fourth down attempt would.
Madden players with an affinity for defense should make punting their primary defensive weapon. Incorporating punts into a defensive game plan increases the distance opponents must move the ball, and the number of plays the offense must run before they are able to score. Each play represents an opportunity to make a pivotal defensive stop. More plays, equal more chances to force offenses into a mistake.
Punting helps players win games that pride would otherwise cause them to lose. Forcing opponents to go farther to score and setting the defense up for success seem like no-brainers. Why most players don't punt on fourth down is a mystery. What isn't a mystery is that Madden players that punt aren't weak failures, just good football decision makers. In those situations when a punt is unwise, players that utilize punts as a part of their game plan can easily make the distinction.