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Legendary Coach Buddy Ryan Passes Away at Age 85

Mike Powell/Getty Images

The football world lost a legend yesterday, June 28, with the passing of Buddy Ryan.

Ryan coached in the NFL for 26 years and is known as one of the top defensive guru’s in the history of football. Ryan coached for the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Oilers, Arizona Cardinals, and most notably, the Chicago Bears.

It was with the Bears that Ryan installed his infamous 46 defense. The scheme was based on sending so many players on a blitz, that the offense just couldn’t possibly block all of them. His system worked beautifully. The 1984 Bears set, and still hold the record for most sacks in a season with 72.

The 1985 Bears were even better. Why else would ESPN have made a 30 for 30 about them? That defense allowed only about 12 points per game. They picked off 34 passes, which led the league. They forced 54 total turnovers, which led the league. They only allowed 14.8 first downs per game, which led the league. Pretty much any defensive stat you can think of, the ‘85 Bears led the league in that category. The Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985, and went down as one of the greatest defenses to ever step on the field (yes, I hate to admit it, but they were better than the 2000 Ravens). The "Monsters of the Midway" were powered by the mastermind Buddy Ryan.

The talent of the Ryan family did not stop with Buddy, and Ravens fans know that better than anyone. John Harbaugh released a statement on Ryan’s death in which he said, "Our hearts go out to the Ryan family and our good friends Rex and Rob. Buddy Ryan was a great coach who had a lasting impact on our game and our profession. His sons have continued to make him proud ever since. R.I.P. Coach Buddy Ryan."

Rex Ryan coached in various positions for the Ravens from 1999-2008, before moving on to be the head coach of the Jets, and now the Bills. Like his father before him, Rex Ryan helped create a fearsome defense. The 2000 Ravens set the record for fewest points allowed, as well as fewest rushing yards allowed. En route to the Super Bowl win in 2000, the defense allowed only 23 points. The Ray Lewis led defense continued to preform well under Rex Ryan until 2007, in which the Ravens went 5-11. Rex Ryan was interviewed for the head coaching vacancy when the staff was fired after that season. The Ravens however chose John Harbaugh for the job, and, no offense to Rex, but I’m pretty happy with that decision.

Buddy Ryan will forever be known as one of the greatest defensive minds in the game’s history, and his loss will not soon be forgotten.