Small decisions matter in Madden, especially on special teams. On kickoffs it is sometimes better to take a knee than attempt to run it back. In recent memory getting the ball to the 20-yard line was enough to justify the risk of poor field position, but the NFL changed the rule for kickoffs for the 2016 season. Now, a touchback grants the receiving team possession at the 25-yard line instead of the 20.
Strategically, the 5-yards can make a huge difference that justifies taking a knee whenever the ball is kicked into the end zone. Despite that fact, many Madden players run it out without the benefit of the big gain they hoped for. Often, the difference between the return and the touchback directly effect the final score.
Madden players may counter with the notion that five yards isn't a big deal. That may be the wrong perspective. Apply that logic to other areas of the game and it's easy to see why taking a knee is the better option. Take these scenarios under advisement:
- Quarterback throws a pass 5-yards beyond the intended receiver.
- Field goal falls 5-yards short of the crossbar
- On 4th down a linebacker makes a tackle 5-yards short of the 1st down marker
There are many situations when 5-yards seem insignificant, but these situations illustrate how that same 5-yards can make an enormous difference. Over the course of a game each kickoff or punt return decision cumulatively adds to the decision before it. What starts as a 5-yard question at the start of a game can become 20+ lost yards in a high scoring game.
The question lies with each of us. Should you try to break the big return or take the safe bet and start with the ball at the 25. As each of us weighs the risks and make our own decision, keep the significance of 5-yards in the back of your mind. Don't let 5-yards be the reason you lose.