There are so many gems. Buddy Ryan would've made a perfect Internet meme.
But this quote has to be the best of them all.
“A quarterback has never completed a pass when he was flat on his back,” Ryan wrote in his playbook. “We must hit the QB hard and often. QBs are overpaid, overrated, pompous bastards and must be punished. Great pass coverage is a direct result of a great pass rush, and a great pass rush is simply a relentless desire to get to the QB. Never miss an opportunity to punish the opponent. We must dominate and intimidate the enemy. If the opponent is worried about you, he is not thinking about carrying out his offensive assignment. If you play aggressive, physical, and smart – you cannot be beaten.”
This was not mere bluster, either. Buddy Ryan's defenses embodied this approach.
The Chicago Bears put a beating on opposing quarterback, attacking from all possible angles with pressure and simulated pressure the NFL had never seen before. And with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, his son Rex was often able to create a similar effect. Last year, his first in Buffalo, was a totally different story. Buffalo finished with a franchise-low 21 sacks. When Rex Ryan was set on punishing the quarterback and creating mayhem, he was able to.
Seconds before the Bills' Monday Night Football loss to New England, seconds before facing a quarterback who tore Buffalo up for 466 yards a couple months prior, he told ESPN that Tom Brady "is not going to be able to sit back there and have that kind of night." Then the Bills hit Brady 10 times in a game they should've won.
In Week 1, with Buddy on hand, Buffalo dizzied Andrew Luck. Now the NFL's highest-paid player, Luck looked confused all game, unable to decipher who was coming from where in positing a 63.6 passer rating. In the Bills' final two victories, again, Ryan cut players loose.
For whatever reason — injuries could've been a factor, a lack of faith in personnel, a lack of buying in from the players — Ryan did not pressure in this manner too many other times. In a 30-22 Kansas City Chiefs win, the Bills were painfully passive. Days after coach Rex Ryan declared “This is our defense” in the wake of dinging Brady left and right, the Bills resembled a totally different defense in rushing four or less players vs. Alex Smith on 34 of 37 dropbacks.
The likes of Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham were itching for a green light last season.
And, one by one, Eli Manning, Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins were practically untouched in the pocket.
So, first, Ryan drafted three players he hopes bring a Buddy-like attitude. Maybe Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland and Adolphus Washington provide the bite this defense needs. Lawson boasted that he once sent a kid in high school to the hospital: "Kids were crying. And they sent him to the emergency room.” Washington remembers one of his victims on the field squirming in agony. Ragland was used on offense as a running back early in games to set a physical tone. And, in Ragland, Ryan sees the type of player his father coveted.
"When dad looked at football players, he would take them in his own image,” Rex Ryan told The MMQB. “That’s what he grew up around; that’s what he was when he was a master sergeant in the Korean War. That’s what I took, and that’s what I want on my football team.”
And on the sideline, count on Rex and Rob Ryan holding nothing back this season.
This certainly is a different league than Buddy Ryan's in the 80's. Teams pass now more than ever, 40-50 times a game and try to exploit bulkier linebackers like Ragland in coverage. As early as 14 years old, quarterbacks are taught how to beat the blitz. Defenses send pressure against three- and four-receiver looks at their own peril now.
And yet, blitzing is what the Ryans do best. An undying, unapologetic love for blitzing is what Dad instilled in his sons. He revolutionized the blitz with the Chicago Bears, turning it into an art form. Never before had a defensive coordinator sought the absolute perfect play for any situation. Never before could a defensive end drop like a defensive back and a defensive back rush the QB like an end. He changed the rules.
So this is Rex Ryan's great challenge. His players at One Bills Drive seem to understand this playbook a heck of a lot more than they did in 2015, so he now tries to go full Buddy in a new NFL.
"This season means a hell of a lot to us. Our name, our legacy, means a hell of a lot,” Rex Ryan continued. “Our dad is recognized as being one of the great defensive coaches, probably arguably the best, in the history of the game. You can’t say he’s not in the top five, certainly. And we’ve been pretty successful through the years ourselves, but nothing like we want to be. We have won five Super Bowls as a family, but we want to win our sixth at some point. And I want to win it as a head coach, because that has never been done in our family. Obviously, it’s not like these teams are going to roll down for us.
"We have to earn everything we get, and we’re a long-ass way away from it. It’s going to take a ton of work. But I really like my team.”
There's already a ton of pressure on Rex Ryan this season. If nothing else, Rex will go down swinging... the way his Dad would prefer.