No. 4 – Mark Rypien (1986-1993)
You can flip a coin between Kilmer and Rypien at four and five on this list. The men, who on the surface did not appear to be at all alike, actually were very similar quarterbacks. Rypien was big and young and square-jawed when he arrived as a sixth-round pick out of Washington State. He was slated to be a developmental quarterback – perhaps a backup to would-be franchise QB Jay Schroeder.
Rypien was thrown into the fire early in the 1988 season when starter Doug Williams required an emergency appendectomy. Schroeder had been traded a few weeks before. Rypien lost his first two starts, but acquitted himself quite well, throwing for almost 600 yards and tossing five touchdown passes against two interceptions in his first two real games. In his third start, he would throw another three touchdowns and beat Dallas, the first of 45 career wins as a Washington starter.
Rypien dealt with some injuries and growing pains over his next few seasons, and then, in 1991, he led one of the greatest teams in Washington history. The ’91 season was magical from start to finish. Ryp threw 28 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He had an outstanding 8.5 YPA.
Here’s how Rypien resembled Kilmer. Despite his big strong, strong frame, Rypien did not have the best arm in the league. Nor was he particularly mobile. But he did exactly what his coach needed. Playing behind an outstanding offensive line of Jim Lachey, Raleigh McKenzie, Jeff Bostic, Mark Schlereth, and Joe Jacoby, Rypien was able to focus on the one thing he did as well as anybody – throw deep. The line gave him time, elite receivers like Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders gave him targets, and his arm did the rest. It culminated in a dominant victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI.
Two years later, Rypien would fall off a cliff. The team was getting old. He was dealing with a bad back. He would leave Washington and never repeat those glory days. But from his debut in 1988 to that magical night in January 1992, Mark Rypien was the man under center for one of the best Washington Football Teams of all-time.