On NFL Thursday this time out, we take on the 1991 professional football season in America, as we re-consider Super Bowl MVPs and ROTYs. The media is batting 10-for-25 so far on big-game MVP winners, and most of that success came in the 1980s. When will our hindsight start becoming “less sharp”? Only time will tell. And yes, this is the 1,000th post (!) on The Daily McPlay … dating back almost 5.5 years.
(For this specific article, check out our first NFL miniseries entry on this season for context.)
Super Bowl XXVI MVP: Mark Rypien, QB, Washington (original); Brad Edwards, FS, Washington (revised)
The Washington Redskins won their third Super Bowl title with a third different quarterback, all under the guidance of Head Coach Joe Gibbs. This time, it was QB Mark Rypien beating the Buffalo Bills, 37-24, as the Bills became the third team to lose back-to-back Super Bowls, joining the Minnesota Vikings and the Denver Broncos. Rypien was named the MVP for his 292 passing yards and 2 touchdown passes.
But he also threw an interception, while managing to complete only 18 of his 33 attempts. We’re not fans of that performance, especially when the Redskins defense forced 5 turnovers and created 5 sacks. Overall, no dominant players stood out for the Washington offense, really, and we know it’s not Rypien’s award. We like Redskins free safety Brad Edwards for MVP, actually, and here’s why.
Edwards’ first INT in the first quarter set the Washington offense up on the Buffalo 12-yard line. But Rypien wasted the opportunity with an INT. Edwards’ second pick came in the fourth quarter with Washington leading 34-10, and it set up the final Redskins score of the day. Bookend turnovers, you might say, and in the middle, he also had this play—which proved to be pivotal right before halftime.
Overall, Edwards had 5 passes defended, 4 tackles, the 2 INTs, and a lot of Buffalo head space invaded (if John Madden was to be believed at the time). To us, that’s the MVP performance of this game. He’s really the only Redskins player who stood out among the others in this relatively easy Super Bowl victory.
1991 NFL ROTY: Leonard Russell, RB, New England & Mike Croel, LB, Denver (original); Croel (revised)
The voted ROTYs were New England Patriots running back Leonard Russell (959 scrimmage yards and 4 TDs) and Denver Broncos linebacker Mike Croel (84 tackles, 10 sacks). The Pats finished under .500, but the Broncos won the AFC West Division with a 12-4 record. Who else can we put up against Croel for this singular piece of hardware?
Well, Redskins RB Ricky Ervins (861 yards, 4 TDs) is the only real offensive contender, and his season wasn’t that stellar, clearly, even though he was our pick for the Pac-10 MVP in 1989. Defensively, it’s really only cornerback Aeneas Williams of the Phoenix Cardinals (48 tackles, 6 INTs)—who missed the postseason with a 4-12 record. So, do we go with Ervins or Croel?
This has more to do with 1990 than anything: Washington was a 10-win playoff team without Ervins, and Denver was a 5-11 failure without Croel. Nothing is ever that simple, but … The Broncos gave up 374 points in 1990 and then reduced that nunber to just 235 points in 1991. That wasn’t all Croel, but his double-digit sacks cannot be ignored in a season where no other rookie hit any kind of milestone.