We all know the famous picture: Buddy Ryan being carried off the field following the Bears drubbing of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The late great Buddy Ryan is a legend in Chicago. His patented 46 defense, first perfected by those mid-80s Bears, changed the game of football forever.
As the Bears look for a new coaching staff, there is a reason I bring up this legendary defensive coordinator. It is possible that the Chicago Bears carry on the Ryan legacy with Buddy’s loud-mouthed son Rex Ryan.
Yes, that Rex Ryan. The Rex Ryan that everyone loves to laugh at. However, as you dive beyond face value into Rex’s credentials, you see that he isn’t as bad as a candidate for a coordinator position as you may think right now.
It’s seeming incredibly likely that the next Bears head coach will likely be a first-time head coach, probably offensive-minded. It will likely be a guy who is able to work with Mitchell Trubisky, Jordan Howard, and the rest of the offense to finally unharness their capabilities, most which were suppressed by Dowell Loggains and John Fox.
It’s a hard standard to live up to, but Ryan Pace is going to hope that his next head coach is the next Sean McVay.
As good of a job that McVay has done in Los Angeles this season, his supporting cast shouldn’t go unstated. Specifically, journeyman defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips, a long-time defensive coach in the NFL, has produced another elite defense which has been the backbone of the Rams’ success this season.
McVay needed an established name manning the defense during his first run in as a head coach, and he got the perfect name. Phillips never was the greatest head coach, winning only one playoff game in six tries over nine years. However, teams understood how good he was able to run a defense, and he has stuck around as an NFL coach since 1976.
Similarly, it is important that the next Bears head coach has a guy like Phillips manning the defense, and I’m not sure there is a better name for the job than Rex Ryan.
Ryan’s been around football for his entire life. As mentioned previously, his dad is a Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator in Chicago, winning that championship when Rex was just 23.
Ryan is best known for his stint as the head coach of the New York Jets, where he had more success than his comparison, Phillips. Ryan led the Jets, and current Bears quarterback Mark Sanchez, to back-to-back AFC championship games, never cracking the Super Bowl.
However, his defenses have always had success. Those conference championship teams were ranked 1st and 3rd in yards allowed and 1st and 6th in points, respectively. He’s consistently been a defensive wizard, only finishing outside the top 10 in yards allowed once during his time in the Big Apple.
His stint in Buffalo ended prematurely, but not before an offensive coordinator firing and a nepotistic hire Rex wouldn’t be making in Chicago. Make no mistake, Rex’s brother Rob, his defensive coordinator in Buffalo, is terrible. He was so bad at his previous job that he had to try and play it off as someone else’s fault, which was laughably shot down by Saints coach Sean Payton. It’s unfair to Ryan to pin his run in this organization, one which hasn’t been to the playoffs this millenium, against his resume for a coordinator position.
There’s also an argument to be made that the current Bears defense, even without inevitable additions, is better than Rex’s league-leading one from 2009. While it’d be unfair not to give some of that credit to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, another defensive coordinator candidate, I do believe that Rex deserves a majority of the credit in this situation.
I can’t think of another better candidate to fill that “Wade Phillips” role than Rex Ryan. Sure, he will also bring headlines due to his character. However, that’s a cost I think any rational mind would be willing to take on to have a defensive wizard calling the shots.
And like his father, Rex Ryan can be that wizard.