Will Redskins Party Like It's 1991?

Sanders, Clark, Monk

Tandler's Redskins Blog Ver. 07.05.06--By all indications, the Redskins are headed for a special season in 2006. But how special? Can they come close to matching the performance of Joe Gibbs' last championship team, one of the best NFL teams of all time?

Let's see here. The 1990 Redskins, coached by Joe Gibbs, went 10-6 and made the playoffs after a multi-year absence. They were a Wild Card entry, having finished behind the division-champion New York Giants They won a Wild Card game on the road before traveling west to San Francisco and bowing out in the divisional round. Gibbs also coached the 2005 Redskins and last year they went 10-6 to end a playoff drought as a Wild Card entrant having finished second to the Giants. The '05 Skins also won a road playoff game prior to going to the West Coast and losing to Seattle.

As we all know, the '90 Redskins became the 1991 edition, one of the best teams in NFL history. They went 14-2, outscoring the opposition by better than a 2-1 margin. After steamrolling their way through the playoffs they crushed the Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.

The question that must be asked is the obvious one—will history repeat? To start to look at the possibilities here, let's look at each area of the team and compare the '91 and '06 editions. Today, a look at the offense.

Offensive line

The 1991 line gave up a mere nine sacks of Mark Rypien, hardly the most mobile of quarterbacks. While they had help from a lot of max protect schemes that Gibbs utilized it was still an amazing performance. Even with a more mobile quarterback in Mark Brunell, that number would be pretty hard to match in today's blitz-happy NFL; the fewest sacks allowed by a team last year was 20 by the Colts. Washington would do well to come close to that number in 2006.

There isn't a lineman on today's Redskins who is as good as Jim Lachey, who could have been a Hall of Fame left tackle had injuries not cut his career short. Jeff Bostic at center and Joe Jacoby, who played most of the year at right tackle, were past their primes but still had enough in the tank to get the job done. You'd have to think that they would start over Casey Rabach and Jon Jansen. Randy Thomas might be ready to get the Pro Bowl recognition that the man who played his position in '91, Mark Schlereth, got that year. Raleigh McKenzie would certainly get the nod over Derrick Dockery at left guard.

Maybe this current line will live up to all the hype that I've been giving them for the past year, but for right now you have to think that the '91 line is clearly the superior unit.


Just as there are question marks surrounding Brunell's ability to stay healthy and lead a deep playoff run today, similar doubts surrounded Rypien going in to 1991. Rypien had missed six games in '90 due to injuries and hadn't shown that he had the ability to win the big ones. On top of that, he held out for the first part of training camp, drawing the ire of fans and coaches alike in the process. He turned the question marks into exclamation points by passing for 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns. It would not be unprecedented for a quarterback to post something close to such numbers at the age of 36, which is how old Brunell will be by Week 2 next year.

Running back

Ernest Byner ran for 1,048 yards in 1991 and rookie Ricky Ervins chipped in 680. Clinton Portis could exceed that combined total by himself this year. He combines Byner's power and Ervins' elusiveness into one package. All due respect to Byner, Portis' current position coach, but the running back position is far superior now to what it was in 1991.


Please don't take this wrong, but Art Monk was past his prime in 1991. He was still an excellent receiver, but his peak season was in 1984, seven years earlier. Ricky Sanders was not quite at his peak either as he had enjoyed his two 1,000-yard seasons in 1988 and 1989. Those two complimented Gary Clark, who had his best season in 1991, just as Santana Moss had his best in 2005. It will take some doing for Moss, Antwaan Randle El, and Brandon Lloyd to match the productivity of the Posse, as that trio combined for 186 catches for 2,969 yards.

Part 2: The Defense, Special Teams, and Intangibles

Next: The Defense

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details on this unique book and to get ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com.

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