On Tuesday morning, it was confirmed by agent James Solano that defensive mastermind Buddy Ryan had passed away at 82. Ryan was confined to a wheelchair after fighting battling cancer and suffering the aftermath of a stroke for some time now.
Ryan coached for a total of 26 seasons, creating some of the league’s top defenses in his era. He began by helping coach the New York Jets to a Super Bowl III win, and would later go on to coach with the Chicago Bears, who would hold the New England Patriots to a mere 10 points in a Bears victory at Super Bowl XX. His 1984 Bears team still holds the record for most sacks in a season with a whopping 72.
Ryan would later have a couple of head coaching stints with the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles, finishing his career with a 55-55-1 record. He even had his son Rex on staff with him in Arizona for a couple of years.
While still best known for the legendary “46 defense” his masterminded in Chicago, Ryan was also the brains behind the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings defenses for a time. It was in Houston that the coach damaged his reputation by taking a swing on the sideline at Kevin Gilbride – his own team’s offensive coordinator.
“Buddy was a legend in our league in so many ways,” the Bills said on Tuesday. “His defenses were innovative and he was a master at putting his talented and tough players in a position to succeed. He was a real game changer and much of his philosophies and defensive tactics are still utilized effectively by teams today. Buddy’s influence will be carried on by defensive coaches for generations to come, but none more so than by Rex and Rob. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the Ryan family today.