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Former Cardinals Coach Buddy Ryan Dies At 85

Innovative defensive play-caller coached team for two seasons in mid-1990s

Buddy Ryan, shown here coaching the Cardinals against the Rams in 1994, died on Tuesday at the age of 82.
Buddy Ryan, shown here coaching the Cardinals against the Rams in 1994, died on Tuesday at the age of 82.

Buddy Ryan, the outspoken former Cardinals coach and innovative defensive play-caller, died on Tuesday at the age of 85.

Ryan coached the Cardinals for two seasons beginning in 1994, amassing a 12-20 record. He famously announced "You've got a winner in town" during his introductory press conference, and led the Cardinals to an 8-8 record – their first .500 season since arriving in Arizona – in his first year.

The Cardinals defense was fourth in the NFL in points per game allowed that season, but worsened in 1995 and the team finished 4-12, leading to Ryan's firing.

Ryan's sons, Rex and Rob, were assistant coaches under him in Buddy's two seasons with the Cardinals. Rex currently coaches the Bills and Rob is his assistant. Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL for 26 seasons, the final two in Arizona. He had been battling cancer in recent years.

"Buddy was truly one of the great defensive minds in the history of our game and without a doubt one of its most colorful characters," Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. "All of us send our condolences to Rex, Rob and the entire Ryan family."

Ryan rose to prominence as the defensive coordinator for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, which allowed a league-low 12.4 points per game. He was known for his aggressive defensive schemes, highlighted by the 46 defense, which sent blitzers after the quarterback from all angles.

Ryan's other head coaching job came from 1986-1990 with the Eagles, where he went 43-38-1 and made the playoffs three times. He was also an assistant for the Jets, Vikings and Oilers during his prestigious career.

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