It has been more than 20 years since the Washington Redskins were last spotted in the Super Bowl, and many people think they will be returning to the big stage sooner rather than later.
With the abundance of positive strides from the 2011 season to the 2012 season, it is certainly plausible that they could very well reach the Super Bowl some time soon.
They surely have talented pieces all over the roster, but one would be smart to argue that their 1991 Super Bowl-winning squad would best them if these teams were to go head-to-head.
Well, we’ll obviously never know for sure, but we can certainly see how they stack up against each other in a tale-of-the-tape-esque comparison. On paper, it looks like it will be a pretty even split between the two in most areas.
Mark Rypien was Washington’s quarterback during their 1991 Super Bowl and was pretty much in the middle of his career; he wasn’t a great quarterback, but he was good enough.
He had arguably his best season in 1991 and was pretty good at getting the ball to playmakers like Gary Clark and Art Monk, who both had 1,000-plus yard seasons that year. Similarly, current Redskins QB Robert Griffin III has two pretty talented receivers in Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan.
The majority of the Redskins’ receivers in 1991 were long-time veterans, which is pretty much the opposite of how it is now. This year’s receiving corps is led by the 26-year-old Garcon and 28-year-old Morgan, along with the team’s oldest receiver, Santana Moss, who is 34 years old.
When looking at RG3’s and Rypien’s numbers, they are pretty comparable for the most part. While Rypien had more yards and touchdowns than RG3, he also had a worse completion percentage (minus-six) and had more than twice as many interceptions (11).
Stylistically, these two are very different. Rypien was a pocket-passer for the most part, whereas RG3 is an Olympic athlete with tremendous speed and running ability. This comparison is less about the numbers and more about how these players led and contributed to the team.
RG3’s threat as a runner definitely attributed to a big part of Washington’s offensive success in 2012 and makes him not just a quarterback, but a weapon. Running quarterbacks were somewhat rare and sometimes even frowned upon in the 1990s, but now they seem to be popping up everywhere and having much success when they do, i.e. RG3.
Griffin III is the best quarterback the Redskins have had in a long time and is certainly better than Rypien.
What would be great to see is RG3 play behind an offensive line like Rypien had. The Hogs were a luxury that Rypien and running backs Ernest Byner and Ricky Ervins were certainly thankful for. The duo rushed for a combined for 1,728 yards and eight touchdowns behind Washington’s fierce offensive line.
One of the most pleasant surprises in the past decade for Washington was running back Alfred Morris.
The workhorse runner from Florida International made a name for himself in his first season in the league, rushing for 1,613 yards (second in the NFL) and 13 touchdowns. He rarely split carries with anyone besides RG3 and was a big reason why the Redskins reached the playoffs last year, all of which was achieved without a great offensive line.
This is definitely the best Washington’s offensive line has looked in a few years, but they don’t get much better or much more talented than The Hogs.
One of the places where these two teams differ most is the defense.
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In 2012, Washington’s defense was pretty bad. They had a shoddy secondary, which led to way too many big plays, and their pass rush was greatly weakened with the losses of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker. The additions of Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas and David Amerson in this past draft will also help bolster Washington’s defense and hopefully shore up their secondary.
The 1991 Redskins team had a great defense led by Hall of Fame corner Darrell Green (79 tackles, five interceptions) and stellar pass-rusher Charles Mann (11.5 sacks, 63 tackles, three forced fumbles).
They also had four defenders record over 100 tackles, including Andre Collins and Martin Mayhew. Efficient and consistent best describe the 1991 defensive unit, two things that were utterly absent last year for Washington.
Who would win?
That being said, London Fletcher was the definition of consistent for them in 2012. The 38-year-old once again led the team in tackles with 139. In addition to tackles, Fletcher also led the team in interceptions with five and tallied a forced fumble.
When you look at these teams head-to-head and unit by unit, it is clear that the advantage goes to the 1991 team.
Think of it this way, if there was some way these teams could actually play, what would likely happen?
RG3 and Morris wouldn’t be nearly as productive because of the strength and depth of defense they were going against, and their defense would have a tough time slowing down Byner and Monk, especially given their inexperienced secondary and the fact that The Hogs would be blocking. This is not to say that the team as it is now isn’t a strong franchise, but they aren’t quite a Super Bowl-caliber squad just yet.
Although, in a few years this verdict could very well change. Thankfully double jeopardy doesn’t apply to football.