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Two Small Examples Of Buddy Ryan's Huge Influence On Bill Belichick

By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Tributes poured in across the football world to the passing of former NFL coach Buddy Ryan on Tuesday, and for good reason. The father of Rex and Rob Ryan was one of the game's true innovators on defense and one of the original "defensive masterminds."

In New England, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been so singularly great and has carved out such a massive legacy of his own, it's hard to pinpoint many people who would finish this sentence: "There would be no Bill Belichick without __________." But Buddy Ryan could be argued as one of those guys.

Belichick released a statement Tuesday afternoon through the team, paying his respects to Ryan and his family:

One thing that will eventually get Belichick enshrined in Canton as a head coach was his own form of defensive genius. His game plan against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame - literally, there's a big blue binder sitting in Canton. But Belichick didn't get to where he is now without tutelage and influence over his decades in the NFL, and the work of Buddy Ryan was certainly a big part of that.

Here are two relatively small (but hugely telling) examples of how Buddy Ryan's NFL legacy left a lasting mark on Belichick's career.

Buddy Ryan taught Belichick to "ignore the noise"

A 1993 column from Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston, way back when Belichick was facing intense criticism as Cleveland Browns head coach from angry fans, showed a glimpse of what would eventually become Belichick's infamously combative relationship with the media. When asked about the fans' chants of "Bill must go," Belichick said: "To quote Buddy Ryan, if you listen to the fans, you'll be sitting up there with them." Fortunately for Patriots fans, Belichick hasn't listened to any silliness going on outside of the Gillette Stadium walls.

Buddy Ryan directly influenced Belichick's own defensive strategies

Though Belichick deserves loads of credit for his own defensive innovations, he was undoubtedly influenced greatly by the work of Buddy Ryan and his famed "46" defense. Ryan's formation was designed to pressure and confuse opposing quarterbacks, the latter of which has often been a hallmark of Belichick defenses.

A Grantland feature on Belichick called "The Great Defender" touched upon this, noting Belichick's studying of the "46" defense and how it led to his "BTF" (Blitz The Formation) strategy. Belichick would coach his defensive unit to blitz based on however the opposing offense lined up, an evolved version of the "46" defense that has proven highly effective over the course of his Patriots tenure.

Belichick has more NFL coaching experience than a lot of coaches have been alive, and possesses perhaps more football knowledge than anyone on the planet. Buddy Ryan's work was a major contributor to that.

Matt Dolloff is a writer for His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at


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