I have shown my hand here already. That Super Bowl year in 1991...Super Bowl XXVI...come on. There isn't a lot to debate about here.
Chicks dig the long ball. Well, so do Skins fans. I know I snubbed Jay Schroeder yesterday. He had a cannon for an arm and got the ball down the field in a hurry. But with all due respect, Jay Schroeder was/is no Mark Rypien. In fact, few quarterbacks have ever displayed the kind of accuracy on deep balls as Mark Rypien.
The running joke was that Mark Rypien couldn't keep a 10 yard game of catch going for lack of hitting the guy 10 yards away from him, but from 50 yards he could play catch with a guy who was sitting down. You remember those fake hand-off, wide roll-out plays that caused the defense to trip all over themselves while Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and Art Monk got deep? Then you would see Rypien wind up and heave a ball downfield that would touch down on the outstretched fingertips of a Redskin receiver in full stride. Make no mistake about it: Mark Rypien benefitted as much as any player probably ever has from Joe Gibbs' run first to set up the pass philosophy. Earnest Byner and Gerald Riggs tore defenses apart (wasn't that Ricky Ervins changing things up?) That offense was simply a monster. A fake handoff was deadly because if they didn't respect the run, the defense would get run over, and when they bit on the fake, we had guys running open all over the place.
A guy like Mark Rypien begs the question: What was it that made him target those deep patterns so much? I only ask because, in our current situation, the information might be useful. If you look back, it is not as if he were throwing to uncovered guys every time. Instead, he was finding one-on-one matchups and giving his receiver a chance. Clearly Rypien had confidence. It is unfair to compare Rypien in his Super Bowl MVP form with Jason Campbell entering his second season in Zorn's offense. But one thing I think it is worth debating: was Rypien more confident in his receivers, or his abilities to hit a receiver regardless of coverage? Thinking back to that year, it seemed he could throw a pile of his own crap into the air and Gary Clark would come down with it in the end zone. He had a ton of protection and an eternity to get the ball out of his hands. Jason Campbell has not benefitted necessarily from these things. For my part, I will say that I think a very big issue (possibly the biggest obstacle) in JC's development continues to be the lack of confidence in a receiver other than Santana Moss. Rypien had three guys that he had a ton of confidence in. But JC needs to get more confidence in himself as well, and take those shots downfield.
In addition to being a great Redskin, Rypien is a great guy. He does a ton of charity work in and around his home out in the Pacific Northwest in the Spokane area, as well as nationally. And he comes back to D.C. and mixes it up with Skins fans regularly. Case in point: I pull into the parking lot for a day full of tailgating before a game against the Buffalo Bills a couple of years ago. As I am popping the top on my first beer, I look around the group surrounding me and sure enough, one of the guys is Mark Rypien. He was just hanging out having a beer and shooting it with all of us. It turned out that for one of his charities he had auctioned off a day of tailgating and these guys had won. Rypien hung out for about 4 hours, signing autographs and posing for pictures throughout with a huge smile on his face. He talked about the old times, and he talked about the current team. If only he could have talked Joe Gibbs out of that second timeout about 3 hours later (yeah, it was that game).
I doubt there will be much argument today for #11.
(Not to cause any trouble, but in this picture it looks like sooooooooommmmmmmeooooooone is calling an aaaaaaaaauuuuuudible...might be something to take noooooooooooooooote ooooooooooof......)