NFL Defensive Mastermind Buddy Ryan Dies at Age 85

If you’re an NFL fan in any capacity, you’ve no doubt heard of the 1985 Chicago BearsMike Ditka was the legendary coach who led that menacing team to win Super Bowl XX. If you’re familiar with the ’85 Bears, then you are familiar with defensive guru Buddy Ryan.

Former NFL head coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan died Tuesday. It was confirmed by his sons Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan, both with the Buffalo Bills. He was 85.

Ryan, who coached in the NFL for 26 seasons, was known for building some of football’s top defenses that focused on creating havoc on the field.

Buddy Ryan: The Man Behind the Genius

Buddy Ryan began his NFL coaching career in 1978. Ryan was hired by the Minnesota Vikings as their defensive coordinator. In Minnesota, Ryan developed an aggressive and unpredictable style of defense. The defensive unit in Minnesota was nicknamed the “Purple People Eaters”.

Two years later, he left the Vikings to fill the same position with rival Chicago Bears. In Chicago, Ryan’s genius was quickly recognized and the defenses he coached were proof. Ryan was known for defensive schemes that allowed him to confuse and overwhelm opposing offenses.

The “46 defense” was founded on sending more blitzing players than an offense could block. In 1984, the Bears tallied 72 sacks, a record that still stands.

“Some say the 46 is just an eight-man front,” said Buddy Ryan, who named the scheme after safety Doug Plank, who wore that number. “That’s like saying Marilyn Monroe is just a girl.”

The ’85 Bears capped their 46-10 Super Bowl XX victory with seven sacks against the New England Patriots.

ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, co-host of Mike & Mike took to Twitter to express his condolences.

Ultimately, Buddy Ryan coached for six professional football teams including the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, and Houston Oilers. Ryan was a winner in Super Bowl III and Super Bowl XX.