Former NFL defensive coordinator and head coach Buddy Ryan passed away earlier this week at the age of 82. Ryan was known best for his invention of the 46 defense and his penchant for attempting to terrorize opposing quarterbacks at any chance that he got.
In the wake of his passing, many former players and coaches have weighed in on Ryan and his competitiveness and coaching style. Blaine Bishop, a ten-year veteran of the NFL who broke into the league with the Houston Oilers with Ryan as his defensive coordinator, joined CBS Sports Radio’s DA show with Damon Amendolara to give his recollections of Ryan as a coach.
“I think in Houston he felt like he was still a head coach. He felt like he was the head coach of the defense,” said Bishop. “It was proven that way in practice. He would just tell us to go inside and practice for the team wasn’t over. The head coach, the late great Jack Pardee wouldn’t say too much about it when he told us to go in. We were in the two minute drill so the offense could practice the two minutes and we intercepted the ball. That’s when Buddy said ‘Two minute drill is over for the defense. Defense can go in’.”
The Oilers that season started 1-4 before running off 11 straight victories to make the playoffs as winners of the old AFC Central division. The reason for the slow start according to Bishop is that a lot of guys on the team were still in the process of learning the intricacies of the aforementioned 46 defense. Once it got rolling, though, it was impressive to watch. Ryan’s despise for quarterbacks has been well documented and it was no different with the Oilers.
“His whole goal was to knock out the quarterback,” said Bishop. “He would say, so we’re going to see number 2 and number 2 is going to poop in his pants and do the number 2 because he doesn’t want to play out there.”
One of the moments that Ryan is famous for from his time in Houston is getting into a fight with offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and punching him in the face. The incident happened on the sidelines during the team’s final game of the season against the New York Jets. Bishop says that was just the culmination of Ryan’s dislike of Gilbride boiling over.
“He said to the media after one of the games, ‘Oh Kevin Gilbride the Run ‘N Shoot? Oh, he’ll be a used car salesman here in two years, he won’t even be in the league coaching,’ said Bishop. “He just didn’t believe in that philosophy. He was a guy that in the early 90’s he though you should run the ball, protect the football offensively and let the defense that he put together win games. That’s just not the way it was in Houston. There was friction right off the bat because Jack Pardee didn’t hire him (Buddy). The owner, Bud Adams, hired him. So, he wasn’t Jack Pardee’s hire and that friction kind of started right from the beginning.”