We tend to look back on the Buddy Ryan era with a certain fondness despite the fact that he didn’t lead the Eagles to so much as a single playoff win in five seasons as head coach.
Let’s not mince words: the man is a Philadelphia legend. Buddy assembled one of the greatest defenses of all time, installed one of the most electric athletes the sport has ever known as his starting quarterback, and he did these things with a brash demeanor that played well with savage Birds fans. But was he actually a good coach?
Drew Magary and Dom Cosentino for Deadspin think not. Ryan was an innovator and a great defensive coach, but his two head coaching stints in the NFL ultimately produced nothing – at least they were unsuccessful enough to crack Magary and Consentino’s list of the 16 worst coaches in modern history.
16. Buddy Ryan (career record: 55-55-1)
Is any crappy coach in league history more beloved by a fan base than Buddy Ryan still is in Philly? He gave reporters entertaining quotes, often at the expense of his own players. He once put a bounty on the Cowboys' kicker. He punched Kevin Gilbride, and even if it happened when he was in Houston, the act only endeared Ryan that much more to the likes of Paulie from East Passyunk. (According to the late Dave Duerson, Buddy was also something of a racist.) "Buddy Ryan," A.J. Daulerio once wrote, "was a walking, talking version of the mythology Philadelphia fans idolize about themselves." People in Philly like Buddy Ryan because Buddy Ryan wasn't Andy Reid, never mind that Buddy Ryan, with his immensely talented roster, never won a single playoff game (something even Rich Kotite did in Philly). The Cardinals later dragged Ryan off his horse farm to try to rescue the franchise. "You've got a winner in town," Ryan declared during his introductory press conference in the desert. He went on to win 12 games in two seasons before getting shitcanned again.
Looking at the list of 30-plus honorable mentions, which includes names such as Rod Marinelli (0-16 season), Cam Cameron (1-15 career), Joe Bugel (.300 winning percentage), and Josh McDaniels (drafted Tim Tebow in the first round), it’s hard to believe two people felt not one of them was worse than Buddy. Sure, he didn’t produce a playoff victory, but he got there three times in five years, and undoubtedly would have been to more were he not fired following the 1990 season. I can’t speak to what went on in Arizona, but that franchise is almost never viable.
Buddy Ryan may not be as good as Philly likes to think he was, but it would seem there are plenty more than 15 men who did worse.
In case you were wondering where Rich Kotite falls on this list – because there was absolutely zero doubt he would be on it – Ryan’s successor with the Eagles comes in at No. 5. NO, Andy Reid is not on the list, smartasses.
5. Rich Kotite (career record: 41-57)
The amazing thing about Rich Kotite is that, once he was fired by the Jets, he never returned to coaching. He just fell off the face of the Earth. That's virtually unheard of in the profession. Even Rod Marinelli, who went 0-16, was rewarded with a cushy coordinator gig after his ouster. There's always an NFL team or a college team willing to give you a second chance. And yet, Kotite never coached again, not even in a goof league like the XFL. It's like he died. Either Kotite decided that the job wasn't for him and left football of his own free will—which would be rather noble—or he was SO awful during his time in New York that he was essentially exiled from the sport at every conceivable level. We'd like to think this is possible. We'd like to think that NFL executives and college presidents got together after Kotite's firing and said, "OK, let's all agree to NEVER hire this man again, not even as the equipment manager."
>> The 16 Worst Coaches In Modern NFL History [Deadspin]