The sports world lost two great individuals on Tuesday, but the one that hits the home the closest for Philly fans is the loss of former head coach Buddy Ryan.
Ryan passed away at age of 82, which was first reported by ESPN and later confirmed by James Solano, Ryan’s agent.
Ryan was the head coach of the Eagles from 1986-1990 and during his seasons at helm, he went 43-35-1 while also 0-3 in the playoffs. Despite his time in Philadelphia, Ryan was respected around the league as an NFL defensive guru including serving under Chicago Bears legendary head coach Mike Ditka.
“We lost a good one,” Ditka said on Sirius/XM radio. “There will never be another guy like Buddy, believe me.”
Just before coming to Philadelphia, Ryan led one of the best defenses to ever take the field, the 1985 Bears, to win Super Bowl XX. But before the Bears, Ryan began his coaching career in Buffalo in 1961. He also made stops in New York (Jets) and Minnesota (Vikings) before taking the role of Bears defensive coordinator in 1978. After his time with the Eagles when he was fire, he went to Houston (Oilers) to take the role of defensive coordinator in 1993 before heading to Arizona (Cardinals) and assuming the role of head coach for the 1994-1995 season.
Although Ryan was never able to earn a playoff win during his time with the Eagles, he will remain a forever favorite due to his brash personality, his willingness to nail opponents into the ground and his stellar defensive mind, which created the 4-6 defense.
“Buddy Ryan was arguably one of the greatest defensive masterminds in NFL history and forever left his mark on the Eagles organization and the city of Philadelphia,” Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said in a statement released by the team. “Over the last 20-plus years, I had the pleasure of discussing football with Buddy and I always came away from those conversations intrigued by his knowledge and passion for the game. On behalf of myself and the entire Eagles family, I’d like to offer our deepest condolences to the Ryan family.”
During Ryan’s tenure, he led the team to the playoffs and the 1988 NFC East title, which was the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 1981 while coaching seven different Eagles to 15 All-Pro Selections. The list, headlined by defensive end Reggie White and quarterback Randall Cunningham also includes: corner back Eric Allen, defensive tackle Jerome Brown, linebacker Byron Evans, tight end Keith Jackson and wide receiver Mike Quick.
“Buddy Ryan was one of the most creative and innovative defensive minds in the game of football,” added Eagles head coach Doug Pederson in a statement. “It was easy to sense his passion for the game and how much his players loved playing for him. His defensive philosophy remains a big part of the game today. He is a legend in our sport. My thoughts and prayers go out to Rex, Rob, Jim and the entire Ryan family.”
Ryan’s sons Rex and Rob have become coaches at the NFL level. Rex is currently the head coach of the Buffalo Bills while Rob has bounced around but is currently an assistant on his brothers’ staff.