Around this time each year, Madden bombards us with the annual list of improvements they say they've made to the defense. And when the game gets arrives, I'm still usually playing it as I have for years: by calling a play and letting the CPU deal with it. But one new move does look useful for a tool like me.

What is it? Well, for the few times I do want to get in on the action, it's a comfort knowing that when I completely overrun the play with my safety or linebacker, they'll be able to cut back, recover, and resume pursuit more quickly. "Heat seeker tackling" looks like a souped up defensive-assist, I might use that.

The rest of the stuff they describe is going to take some serious hands-on time (which I have not had) with the final product (which arrives at the end of August) to judge the merit of the claim. It seems that this latest discussion is designed to address fears that the offense was becoming overpowered with modifier-button jukes and spins and shoves and the like. They'll be countered with the Hit Stick.

Introduced nine years ago and one of the game's very few annual bells and whistles to stand the test of time, is supposed to be more functional with the game's real time physics, EA Sports says. Hitting a ball carrier with the Hit Stick while he is performing a "special precision modifier move" increases the possibility of causing a fumble. Hitting a receiver with the titular stick at the right time is supposed to increase the chance of breaking up the pass. (I hope that just spamming the stick also increases the chance of pass interference.) You can see a lot of gameplay in the video above, and read more details about the changes in the "playbook" posted today.

Madden developers likely know that, for many players, the only chore bigger than playing defense is trying to make it interesting. It's good to see that the running, momentum, and cutbacks introduced for offensive players should have some counterpart benefit on defense. It's nice to know they're trying to make the physics more functional than just supplying cool-looking hits and stumble-tackles. It's good to see that when I spaz and send my cornerback at maximum speed into the sideline, he'll be able to reverse direction before ending up in the concessions stand. I still think I'll probably be calling a play and letting the CPU deal with it, as I have for years.

Playing Defense in Madden NFL 25 [EA Sports]