1991 Washington Redskins: Measuring Greatness

Leon BrimmContributor IMay 10, 2009

1 Dec 1991:  Offensive lineman Joe Jacoby of the Washington Redskins looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Redskins won the game, 27-6. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell  /Allsport

   “A winning effort begins with preparation.” Joe Gibbs.

As a lifelong redskins fan, all of the Super Bowl teams hold a place in my heart.  1982, 1987, and 1991, all have a history of success. But out of those three teams, without a doubt the 1991 Washington Redskins football team was the best. Arguable the '91 team could be one of the best teams in the history of the NFL.

How can you measure greatness on the football field? Obviously with the only thing on the planet that does not lie; numbers. A winning record of 14-2 in the regular season, and of the two losses, they only lost by a total of five points.

The Redskins averaged 30 points per game, while only giving up an average of 13 points per game. Along the way the ‘Skins defense threw three shutouts, had 50 sacks, 27 interceptions, and were plus 18 in turnovers.

Defense wins championships, or at least that’s how the wise tale goes.  Other coaches like Frank Beamer will tell you special teams will win games. I think he is right as well, the 91 ‘Skins did quite well in that department also.

Chip Lohmiller was 100 percent on point after attempts, and made 31 of 43 field goals at a 72 percent clip. Brian Mitchell averaged 13.3 yards and two touchdowns on punt returns. Ricky Ervin averaged 23 yards per kickoff return.

With all of this being said, there is still an element that a team needs to have to win in the NFL. That element is offensive. Joe Gibbs re wrote the book on offensive, and in 1991 he proved to the NFL that his brand was the best in the business.

Led by Mark Rypien, who will become the MVP of Superbowl XXVI, he tossed 28 touchdowns vs. only 11 picks.  He threw for 3564 yards, and had a passer rating of 97.9 percent. He was the NFC player of the year, and a pro bowl selection.

Rypien had all the skills and all the talent in the world to back him up as well. Most people can remember Art Monk, and Gary Clark. Art Monk a Hall of Famer had 1049 yards receiving at a 14.8 yards average per catch and eight touchdowns, his side kick Gary Clark did better than that. He had 1340 yards receiving at 19.1 yards average per catch, and 10 touchdowns. Out of Marks 28 touchdowns he found this dynamic duo 18 of those times.

A passing game is a great element of an offensive, but it’s not possible without a running game. Of course the running game starts up front with the “Hogs” who featured names like Bostic, Jacoby, Grimm and Warren; they could open huge holes, and defend the quarterback from being sacked like no line has ever done.  Washington’s signal caller was only sacked nine times that year in 16 games.

But with that great line, a cast of great backs set the tone for the running attack including Ernest Byner, who had 1048 rushing yards and five touchdowns that season. Ricky Ervins added 680 yards and three touch downs that season. Gerald Riggs could bring it all home on short down goal line stands, with 11 touchdowns.

This team was developed by Joe Gibbs, not only to win but to destroy teams in the NFL. With the thumping’s of the Lions (41-10) and Falcons (24-7) in the playoffs, Washington cruised into Super Bowl XXVI and throttled the Buffalo Bills 37-24

When you sit back and think about the quality of athletes in the 90’s compared to the 70’s and 80’s, and take a hard look at the stats and the opponents of that year, it’s hard not to say that the 1991 Washington Redskins were the best team to ever take the field up to that point in NFL history.