The NFL lost a legend in June when former head coach and defensive innovator Buddy Ryan passed away at 85 years of age. Among his many contributions to the game are his son and Bills head coach Rex Ryan, who in addition to carrying on his father’s legacy in football has also found a way to pay tribute to the man each and every week.
Bill Cowher for the NFL Network notes that Rex plans to open every game in the 46 defense, a scheme Buddy invented and made famous as defensive coordinator for the Bears in the late ’70s and eventually won the Super Bowl with in the ’85 season.
Of course, Rex potentially puts the Bills at a huge disadvantage for one play a game, first by revealing how his defense will line up, but especially with the decision not to match the offense’s personnel. If an opponent were to begin a game with their receivers and backs spread out for intance, the heavy 46 would not necessarily be the best defense.
Then again, this type of tribute is not at all uncommon in football. Perhaps the best example in the NFL was after the untimely death of safety Sean Taylor, the Redskins played their first snap with only 10 men on the field.
So while Ryan may be putting his defense in a position where it can be exploited, it’s a fitting tribute to a great coach. And it’s only one play per game, so theoretically, it shouldn’t break the Bills’ back.