Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rex 'cherishes' first NFL experience with Cardinals


Regardless of what you may think of Rex Ryan as head coach of the New York Jets, the guy has a pretty impressive coaching resume.

Ryan went from a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky in the late 1980s to one of the best defensive coaches in the game leading the mid-2000 Baltimore Ravens' defense. A few years later, he's the lead guy for New York's green team.

But Ryan held a lot of gigs in between, one being his first NFL job -- coaching linebackers and defensive linemen with the Arizona Cardinals under his father, Buddy Ryan, who was head coach at the time. (photo: Marianne O'Leary, Flickr)

"... that’s something I was grateful for. I think that’s the best thing that really ever happened to me from a career standpoint," Ryan told reporters Monday, via NewYorkJets.com. "I got to coach under my father for two years and see how he would approach offenses and game planning and specific things to opponents and he really was 20 years ahead of his time at least."

In 1994, the Cardinals ranked third on total defense despite finishing the season 8-8. The following year, Arizona went 4-12, and the Ryans, along with everyone else on the coaching staff, were let go. Buddy retired after an NFL coaching career that spanned nearly three decades.

Rex took a minute to give Buddy, who was the mastermind of the 46 defense, a plug for his success as an innovator of defensive football as we know it.

"I think to this day there are people that take things from what he brought and you still see some of that from his 46 to whatever in the league," Ryan said. "The zone blitz and all that kind of stuff, he was a pioneer in that.

"But the other thing is too, is really, even now, the way teams are looking at things specifically, audibles on defense all those types of things is what I really learned from. It was a great experience for me. Obviously, I only spent two years there but those are two years that I really cherish."

The Jets host the Cardinals Sunday.

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