I have created two guides for Madden 09 for beginners trying to advance their skills to play like pros. One is for running the ball and the other is for passing. They can be found on my main website here.
Every year fans continue to get angry at EA for giving them basically the same Madden game with a roster update. This year EA decided to completely change things up. They advertised that there would be 80+ new features in the game. While some are very minor, the difference in the entire game is very noticeable.
The main biggest difference to all fans is the running game. EA has finally updated their broken running and tackling engine and it proves to be much better. Runningbacks can no longer make instantly change their direction at full speed, they can't stop immediately after sprinting. When the defender has engaged the runner in a tackle, the runningback can still make moves in attempts to break the tackle. Defenders can gang tackle the runningback to make sure he goes down, or when the runner is trying to get tackled forwards for an extra gain, extra defenders can come in and push him back. The main drawback is that the tackling is not entirely smooth, it looks and feels like lag, but whatever the case, it's not good. As a whole the running and tackling physics alone are reason to buy this game.
A large number of extra features were also added to the game. You can go to wikipedia for a long list of features and come back if you have any questions. The main theme though was polishing up the game. The stadiums, field, and weather look absolutely stunning. The atmosphere feels realistic. On rainy days, players' jerseys get muddy, some guys start slipping and dropping balls. The players on the field seem alive, they move around on their own, they aren't robots like in previous years.
I haven't been this excited for Madden since 05 when the hit stick was introduced. Even 2k Sports fans are admitting that this is the first decent Madden they've played and are beginning to transition over to Madden. While the game is more realistic and polished, it still captures the spirit of the old Maddens with its fast paced game and hard hits.