New York Jets' Head Coach Rex Ryan: A Chip Off the Same Block

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New York Jets' Head Coach Rex Ryan: A Chip Off the Same Block
Al Bello/Getty Images

Regardless of what you think of him, one thing you can say about New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is that he is not afraid to let the spit fly.

From his bold statements during his press introduction as the new Jets head coach to his lively exchanges with the likes of Dolphins LB Channing Crowder to his recent claim that the Jets should be the Super Bowl “favorites”, Ryan has proven to be about as far from shy as a man can get.

For those of you who know football, you know that Rex didn’t get his big mouth by accident. Demonstrating that the acorn truly does not fall from the tree, Rex is proving to be every bit as colorful as his famous football father, Buddy Ryan.

Even though the Jets are currently listed as the longest shot of the 12 playoff teams (50 to 1, to be exact), Rex insists that the Jets should be the favorites in the tournament.

“I wasn’t aware of that, but to me we should be the favorites. I mean in the whole tournament. You know the way I feel. I think we have the best defense. I know we do. I know we have the best rushing attack. Those are two huge factors in our favor.” – Rex Ryan on how he feels about being 50-1 playoff underdogs

“Brago-saurus” Rex has probably provide a little bulletin board material for that Bengals locker room, but apparently the Jets head coach doesn’t care how the Bengals, or anyone else, see his quotes.

Just a chip off the ol’ block.

“I think he’s got a chance to shut them out, he shut the first bunch out last week. He can get the rest of them like I did in ‘85. We shut out the Giants, the Rams and would have shut out the Patriots in the Super Bowl if we didn’t fumble.” – Buddy Ryan on son, Rex Ryan’s playoff chances    

Buddy Ryan has a rich football history that covers the spectrum from football legend to football folly. James David “Buddy” Ryan started his football career in 1957 as a high school football coach in Gainesville, TX. His legend started with the New York Jets 1969  Super Bowl win where Buddy served as a line backers coach from 1968-1975.

Together with, then New York Jets defensive coordinator, Walt Michaels, Buddy would devise a defensive game plan that was instrumental in holding the NFL’s Baltimore Colts to seven points in the third AFL-NFL World Championship Game.

It would be during his tenure as a coach with the New York Jets that buddy would lay the corner stone of his "defensive genius" reputation. While working as the defensive line coach, Ryan started the tradition of placing “bounties” on opposing quarterbacks, an idea he got after seeing how much emphasis head coach Weeb Eubank placed on protecting star QB Joe Namath and his battered knees.

Buddy would eventually move on to Minnesota where as defensive coordinator of the famous Vikings “Purple People Eaters” defense he was heralded for their ability to punish rivals. Brandishing the motto “meet at the quarterback,” the Vikings would make postseason appearances from 1973-78.

In 1978, Buddy would take the job that would turn him into a household name. Brought in by newly hired head coach Neill Armstrong, Buddy would become the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator.  Ryan would literally revolutionize defensive football with his “46″ package which in turn would revolutionize offensive football as offensive coordinators everywhere scrambled to neutralize Ryan’s punishing pass rush schemes.

Ryan’s 1985 Bears defense, largely considered the best defense ever assembled, would help propel the Bears to a world championship in Super Bowl XX, setting several NFL records along the way.

Following the Bears championship season, Buddy would move on to his first head coaching position with the Philadelphia Eagles. Starting things off in typical Ryan-esque fashion, Buddy boldly stated, “We plan on winning the Eastern Division…” to the delight of Eagles fans everywhere.

Buddy would fall short of his goal that first year but reality would soon catch up to his boastful mouth as the Eagles would see a division crown in 1988 when the team won 10 games and would continue to win at least 10 games a season until his departure.

Buddy’s time with the Eagles was filled with various controversies including the infamous ‘Bounty Bowl I’, game in which then Dallas Cowboys head coach, Jimmy Johnson accused Ryan of putting a ‘bounty’ on Cowboys placekicker Luis Zendejas (a former Eagle) and quarterback Troy Aikman. Buddy would famously snub Johnson during the midfield post game greet choosing rather to avoid it altogether and head for the locker room instead.

Just two weeks later,  ‘Bounty Bowl II’ would prove to be near riotous as Philadelphia fans would pelt everyone on the field (including referees and Eagles players) with snowballs, ice, beer and just about anything else that wasn’t bolted down. The Eagles would prevail in both contests.

Buddy’s next stop would be as defensive coordinator for the 1993 Houston Oilers, who would end that season on an impressive 11-game winning streak. It would be during his tenure with the Oilers that Ryan would be involved in what is arguably his most memorable controversial moment.

In the last game of the 1994 season, against the New York Jets ironically enough, would become involved in a sideline altercation with then-offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride during the national broadcast. Ryan, a long time critic of Gilbride’s “run and shoot” offense, or the “chuck and duck” as Ryan called it, felt that last-minute stands cost him two players to injury when the offense could have simply just run the ball and killed the clock.

When Oilers QB Cody Carlson fumbled the snap on a play, Ryan started a shouting match with Gilbride. As Gilbride approached him, Ryan punched Gilbride and two players had to quickly separate them.

Ryan would end his illustrious career with the Arizona Cardinals where he accept a position as both the head coach and general manager in 1994. Ryan would last only two seasons there, amassing a record of 12-20 before being fired. Buddy would retire to his farm in Kentucky, where he still resides today.

Buddy Ryan will forever be remembered for implementing and perfecting the 46 defense, that killer 1985 Bears defense, transforming a mediocre Eagles team, unable to sell-out home games, into a premier defensive unit in the NFL and a perennial playoff contender...and of course, his mouth.

From what we’ve seen and heard from Rex Ryan this season, there can be little doubt he cut from the same cloth as Buddy. Buddy Ryan was never able to win a playoff game as a head coach in this league. Here’s hoping his son can buck that trend against the Cincinnati Bengals this Saturday.


Buddy Ryan’s Coaching Results**

Year Age Team Lg G W L T W-L% G plyf W-L% Rank
1986 52 Philadelphia Eagles NFL 16 5 10 1 .333     4
1987 53 Philadelphia Eagles NFL 15 7 8 0 .467     2
1988 54 Philadelphia Eagles NFL 16 10 6 0 .625 1 .000 1
1989 55 Philadelphia Eagles NFL 16 11 5 0 .688 1 .000 2
1990 56 Philadelphia Eagles NFL 16 10 6 0 .625 1 .000 2
1994 60 Arizona Cardinals NFL 16 8 8 0 .500     3
1995 61 Arizona Cardinals NFL 16 4 12 0 .250     5

** From Pro-Footbal-Reference.com

 

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