Raidel "Joke" Brito could easily pinpoint the two most valuable players during his dominant run to the Madden Bowl 2020 championship on May 16.
His No. 1 player was defensive tackle Frank Clark, whose 90-rated speed and "power specialist" ability helped him average three to four sacks per game. Brito called Clark the anchor of his entire team, and one of the main reasons he implemented a run-only approach was to fit Clark with the "power specialist" ability in his lineup.
Offensively, no player was more important than Gale Sayers because, well, he was the only player on that side of the ball who could score. Sayers' production helped Brito win five of his six tournament games en route to winning his first Madden Bowl title.
But after Clark and Sayers, the 26-year-old from New Jersey highlighted an unassuming contributor: quarterback/punter Tress Way.
"I would say Tress Way because a lot of the things I was able to do was because I was able to run the ball to either side of the field," Brito told Redskins.com. "People would have been able to play defense differently against me had I not had Tress Way. I would say Tress Way was, in terms of most important players on my team, between three to five, maybe even three honestly."
In reality, Way has been the punter for the Washington Redskins for the past six seasons. He led the NFL with 41 punts inside the 20-yard line with zero touchbacks in 2018, then took his game to another level last season, earning his first Pro Bowl appearance and second-team All-Pro honors. These accomplishments have solidified Way as one of the best punters in the league today.
Brito made sure to utilize Way at his natural position, routinely booting 50-plus yarders and pinning opponents deep in their own territory. But he also found another role for him.
"The reason I went with Tress Way is because in Madden, if you have a lefty quarterback, they hand off the ball with their right hand," Brito explained. "So if I run a halfback dive with a lefty quarterback, my running back is going to take the hand-off to the left. If I have a righty quarterback, my running back is going to take the hand-off to the right.
"Tress Way was the lowest-cap punter who was a lefty, and I wanted to be able to hand the ball off to both sides of the field. So there were certain runs that I thought were better with a left-handed quarterback, and those were the runs where I would sub in Tress Way and have him at quarterback."
Brito said Way and his other signal-caller, Eli Manning, split time at quarterback throughout the tournament. Much of who played depended on what side of the field Brito was on.
"When I was on the left side of the field, I had Tress Way in, and when I was on the right side of the field, I had Eli Manning in," Brito said. "Halfback dive to the short side is, honestly, one of the best runs in Madden this year, and that's why I was able to do the two-quarterback system."
Brito said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington that without Way, who not only was his lefty quarterback but helped him control field position as a punter, he probably would not have won the tournament.
Brito reached out to Way after the victory, and the two recently communicated via Twitter. The plan is for Brito and a friend to come to a Redskins game this fall for a meet and greet.
Way also addressed his virtual fame on NBC Sports Washington's "Redskins Talk" podcast on Monday, even offering a lighthearted theory as to why opposing defenses could not stop Brito's run-only attack.
"Whenever you carry a career QBR that is higher than Tom Brady's, just the thought that this guy might throw, that will scare the heck out of people," said Way, who has completed his only two career passing attempts for 38 yards.
"So that was enough to take somebody all the way to the finish line, and I'm honored to be a part of that. I don't need to throw -- I don't need the glitz and the glory -- I'll hand it off and let somebody else do it. But you better believe they were just terrified I was going to throw that whole time."
Brito was first introduced to this run-only strategy about a month before the Madden Bowl. He was playing against his friend, JAYBIRD, who was using a dual-quarterback system and having success against his typically dominant defense.
All of the sudden, Brito went from using expensive quarterbacks such as Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III to exclusively running the ball, which afforded him much more salary cap space to spend on defensive players (Jadeveon Clowney was his lowest-rated defender at 93 overall).
After a while, even the best offensive players in the world were struggling to move the ball against him. That's when he realized this philosophy could work in the Madden Bowl.
"They didn't have the team to stop me on offense, and I had the team to stop them on defense."
Behind a smashmouth offense and a nearly impenetrable defense, Brito won two of his three games during pool play and earned him a bye to the quarterfinals. He then secured three straight victories, including a 17-0 triumph against Daniel "Dcroft" Mycroft in the title game, to claim the Madden 20 championship belt and a $65,000 prize.
The championship was especially meaningful for Brito because he dedicated the tournament to his close friend Taylor "SpotMe" Robertson, who was killed in a mass shooting during a Madden tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2018.
"We always used to talk about, 'I can't wait to finally win one,' and we would just always talk about winning tournaments," Brito said. "So being able to win my first tournament in the tournament that I dedicated to my friend who passed away tragically, that felt better than honestly anything."