For the New York Jets, Buddy Ryan played a role in the greatest moment in franchise history as he will always be remembered for his incredible impact in football.
The NFL recently mourned the loss of one of its most influential coaches. Buddy Ryan, father of current coaches Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan. The innovative defensive mastermind and two-time Super Bowl champion coach, passed away this past Tuesday.
When you ask the average NFL fan about Ryan, two things almost certainly come to mind: the “46” defense and daaaaa Bears. Those associations are well-earned. Ryan was the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears from 1978-1985. Along the way, he developed a new hyper aggressive defensive scheme known simply as the “46.”
Possessing the same bravado that his sons would eventually become known for, Ryan adored his creation. When describing his defense, he once quipped, “Some say the 46 is just an eight-man front. That’s like saying Marilyn Monroe is just a girl.”
Its difficult to argue with the results. Although Ryan experienced mixed results as a head coach (55-55-1 career record), he was a dominant defensive coordinator. During his eight years in Chicago, the Bears finished outside the top 10 in points allowed only twice.
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Ryan’s career reached its pinnacle in 1985, when he coached what is arguably the greatest defense in NFL history.
The 1985 Bears gave up the fewest points and yards in the league, and helped carry the team to a Super Bowl championship.
The older and more die-hard Jets fans may have one more memory of Ryan.
Ryan began his NFL coaching career as a linebackers coach with the Jets. The 1968 Jets’ defense gave up the fewest yards of any AFL team, and the Jets eked out a 16-7 Super Bowl win over the heavily favored Colts.
It only seems fitting that Buddy’s son Rex would go on to coach the Jets about 40 years later. Like his father, Rex is a brash defensive genius with a mediocre track record as a head coach. Sadly, unlike Buddy, Rex could never quite lead the Jets to the promised land.
Rest in peace, Buddy. And thanks for all the great memories and exciting moments you and your family have given the game of football.