The legendary Buddy Ryan, father of Rex and Rob, architect of the 46 defense made famous by the 1985 Chicago Bears, passed away on Tuesday. Much has been said and written about the life and career of Buddy Ryan already, and now we can add former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms -- who would know a thing or two about what it was like to play against a Buddy Ryan defense -- to the list of those that sing Ryan's praises.
Appearing on "Time to Schein" on Tuesday evening, Simms described exactly what it felt like to go up against Ryan's Bears and Eagles defenses:
"What was it like going against his teams? Well, it was misery. That's the kindest word I can say on TV. He had a unique defense. Something that I've never seen in the NFL. When I saw it, I couldn't understand it. I always say this: You take something unique, and then it has talent, that's how you get greatness. You could just hear that from Mike Singletary. All those things came together, but Buddy Ryan had the trait, how to relate that to his defensive players. They played a style that was aggressive, right on the edge, I guess you could say, too. I'm not going to say it was dirty. Maybe a player here or there could have been dirty, but it's the way he communicated the uniqueness of his defense. And I'll put it up there with this: Lawrence Taylor changed blocking schemes on offense; Bill Walsh kind of changed offense, how it was being played -- throwing the football sometimes instead of running and making the pass and the run kind of the same thing; Vince Lombardi breaking film down, seeing tendencies, doing things like that; and you've got to put Buddy Ryan's Bear defense, 46 defense right up there with all of these things."
Simms also recalled the first time he saw the 46 defense. He walked up to the line of scrimmage in training camp in 1985 and saw the scout team lined up and thought to himself, "This is stupid," he said.
It probably didn't seem so stupid after Simms got a look at it in a real game. He squared off against the 85 Bears in the playoffs, going 14-35 for 209 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown or an interception, but he was sacked six times. He did face Ryan's Eagles defense a bunch of times from 1986 through 1990, though. How'd he fare? Not great.
Simms went 144-291 (49.5 percent) for 2,055 yards (7.1 per attempt), 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions across nine games, good for a mediocre 70.7 passer rating. That was a far cry from the 57.6 completion percentage, 7.4 yards per attempt, and 83.7 passer rating he posted against other teams during that time.
What, exactly, was it like to play against those Eagles? "I played against the Eagles defense many, many times. I'm not going to say it was as good as the Bears defense, but if it wasn't, it was really, really close because that defense, twice a year... oh my gosh. It was truly -- it was always a rough experience. Even if we beat them, you paid the price."