Former NFL head coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan passed away on Tuesday, June 28, at the age of 82, according to a statement by the Buffalo Bills.
Ryan was the father of Bills head coach Rex Ryan and Bills assistant head coach Rob Ryan.
Serving as coach in the NFL for 26 seasons, Ryan was a two-time Super Bowl champion and was known as one of the top defensive minds in NFL history. Much like his son Rex, Ryan was known for his brash, confident style of coaching.
Ryan’s first Super Bowl victory came with the Joe Namath-led New York Jets in 1968, where he served as linebacker coach.
During his first year on staff, Ryan made a difference right away. The Jets led the AFL in defense that season; Ryan also played a part in constructing a gameplan that held the Baltimore Colts to 7 points in the Jets’ 16-7 win over the Colts in Super Bowl III.
But the hallmark of his career was his second Super Bowl victory with the 1985 Chicago Bears, where he served as defensive coordinator of a unit considered to be one of the best in history.
The name most synonymous with the ’85 Bears is the “46 defense”—a hyper-aggressive, blitz-happy defense using a stacked defensive front that Ryan was the innovator of.
Accordingly, the Bears tallied 72 sacks as a team in 1984, a record considered by some to be one that will never be broken. The legendary defense was also first in the league in points allowed, yards, rush yards, first downs, and takeaways in the same season.
Players on the team included current Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, Mike Singletary, and Wilber Marshall.
Players took to Twitter to send their condolences after news of Ryan’s death broke:
Just heard the news of Buddy Ryan may he rest in paradise. It’s a sad day for the Ryan Family. God bless. .
— ANTONIO CROMARTIE (@CRO31) June 28, 2016
Buddy Ryan has passed!!! He coach some the best defense’s I faced. Praying 4 both the Ryan & Summitt families.
— Emmitt Smith (@EmmittSmith22) June 28, 2016
— Braylon Edwards (@OfficialBraylon) June 28, 2016
— Ron Rivera (@RiverboatRonHC) June 28, 2016
Bill Belichick on the history and evolution of Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense: “That was pretty unblockable.” pic.twitter.com/uULuHSzYaJ
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) June 28, 2016
“Terry and Kim Pegula and the Buffalo Bills organization want to express their deepest sympathies and condolences to Rex, Rob, and the entire Ryan family on the passing of their dad, Buddy Ryan,” the Buffalo Bills said in a statement.
“Buddy was a legend in our league in so many ways. 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.”