Without Buddy Ryan, there is no Wade Phillips.
Without Phillips, there's no magic in Super Bowl 50 or historic/magical defense.
The NFL lost a true icon on Tuesday. The greatest defensive coach in history, and the guy who, in a roundabout way, helped to make the recent season for the Denver Broncos so memorable and special.
Ryan died at the age of 82 in Kentucky. No cause of death was given.
James David Ryan was a Korean War veteran who went to Oklahoma State, then got a master's degree from Middle Tennessee State while he also served as a coach. According to ESPN, his first major job in the pros was with the New York Jets, then of the American Football League, in 1968.
To measure the impact and influence Ryan had on the game and so many lives, you have to look at the size of his personality.
Ryan was one-of-a-kind. He was outspoken, to say the least. He was passionate. By all accounts, he loved his players like sons.
For anyone that doubts how his players felt about Buddy Ryan, go watch the 30/30 about the 85 Bears. They'd go thru a wall for him— trey wingo (@wingoz) June 28, 2016
You see a glimpse of his impact on his real sons, Rex and Rob. Both unique personalities of their own. But you also see Buddy's influence - both are defensive coaches in the NFL.
Ryan coached in the NFL for 26 years and is known as the architect of the best defenses to play in the NFL. He added a relentlessness to that side of the ball the game had never seen before, and his impact is still felt today.
He's best known for the "46 defense" and the revival of the "Monsters of the Midway." The 1985 Chicago Bears defense is considered by many to be the best of all time. The "46 defense" was founded on sending more blitzing players than an offense could block. And in 1984, the Bears tallied 72 sacks, a record that still stands. The '85 Bears capped their Super Bowl title over the New England Patriots with seven sacks.
As Chicago legend Mike Ditka told USA Today: "No way we win anything without his defense."
Condolences to Rex and Rob and all the Ryan family. Buddy was the best defensive coach ever --a great influence on my career- will miss him— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) June 28, 2016
Ryan's next move is what started to shape the Broncos we see today.
"At a meeting the night before the Bears beat New England in the Super Bowl to win the 1985 championship, (Richard) Dent said a teary Ryan informed his players that he was going to Philadelphia: 'You guys are going to be my champions. Let's kick some tail,' Ryan said."
When Ryan was hired as the Eagles head coach, his first defensive coordinator was Phillips.
And the rest is history.
In his second stint with the Broncos, Phillips brought a tenacious, relentless defense his mentor was, no doubt, proud to see play.
While Ryan never coached in Denver over the course of his storied career, he left a mark on the Broncos as giant as any coach who did.