Having reached the AFC championship game in 2010, the New York Jets have found new success with the second generation of Buddy Ryan?s 46 defense and Marty Schottenheimer?s ?Marty Ball? offensive strategy.
Head coach Rex Ryan (Buddy?s son) and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (Marty?s son) have taken proven NFL strategies and combined forces to rebuild the often mediocre Jets into a championship contender.
The Ryans have come full circle with Rex now at the helm of the team that gave Buddy his first professional coaching job. While with the Jets, Buddy was a key component in strategizing a defense to stop the high-powered Baltimore Colts offense in Super Bowl III.
Defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, Buddy was the engineer of the famous ?Purple People Eaters? defense that lost three Super Bowls from 1973-76.
It wasn?t until Buddy was the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator that he developed the famous and dominant 46 defense?a hybrid of the 4-3 designed to stop the run?that led the 1985 Bears to the Super Bowl XX championship.
In his first head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles, Buddy?s defense that featured Reggie White, Seth Joyner and Eric Allen dominated offenses in the regular season but failed to produce a playoff win. Buddy was fired in 1991 after posting a career 0-3 playoff record.
Before retiring in 1995, Buddy was the defensive coordinator for the Houston Oilers and head coach and general manager of the Arizona Cardinals. While in Houston, he was involved in an incident with a player.
Rex is resurrecting the 46 defense with the Jets. Like his father, he understands he needs certain types of players for the defense to be successful. Buddy?s teams were the most successful when they had a dominant defensive end, middle linebacker and cornerbacks.
The 2010 Jets are no different, featuring Jason Taylor, David Harris and Derrelle Revis (currently a holdout).
A common knock on the 46 defense, the Jets struggled against the pass-first strategy of the Indianapolis Colts. Also like his father, Rex will have to formulate a way for the Jets? defense to stop the high-powered Colts offense if they want a shot at a Super Bowl title.
Even though Schottenheimer has never coached ?Marty Ball? in a Super Bowl, hybrids of the strategy were used by Super Bowl winning teams and were a key component in the long term success for former assistants Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy.
Dungy retired with a career record of 139-69, won five AFC South titles with the Colts, an NFC Central title with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was the first African Ameri?can head coach to win a Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLI).
Bill Cowher went 149-90 in 15 years as Steeler head coach. With Cowher at the helm, Pitts?burgh made the playoffs 10 times, lost in the AFC champion?ship game four times, lost Super Bowl XXX to the Dallas Cowboys and won Super Bowl XL.
Often criticized for being too conservative, ?Marty Ball? is a run-first strategy that uses a power running game to open up play action opportunities in the passing game. Like the 46 defense, ?Marty Ball? needs the right kind of players to be successful.
The Schottenheimer strategy features a power running back complemented by a smaller multi-purpose back. All backs must be able to catch the ball because they are very involved in the passing game.
With a dominant quarterback, ?Marty Ball? can be very productive in the passing game, but can also be successful with a young or mediocre quarterback.
At the helm of the Cleveland Browns in the 1980s, Schotteheimer went 44-27, won three AFC Central titles and earned two trips to AFC Championship game. Power back Kevin Mack and the smaller, multi-talented Ernest Byner alternated at running back while quarterback Bernie Kosar sidearm slung the ball for three-straight 3,000 yard seasons.
With the Chiefs, Schotten?heimer put the bulk of his offense on the legs of Christian Okoye, Barry Word and Marcus Allen, who were complemented by pass-catching fullbacks Tony richardson and Kimble Anders and running back Todd McNair.
With the exception of an aging Joe Montana, the Chiefs had quarterbacks (Steve DeBerg, Rich Gannon, Elvis Grbac) that were best when they relied heavily on play-action passes set up by a solid running game.
While in Kansas City, Schottenheimer went 101-58-1 in 10 seasons, won three AFC West titles, reached the playoffs seven times and lost in the AFC Championship game in 1993 with Montana at quarterback.
Schottenheimer left the Chiefs in 1998, tried broadcasting and returned to coaching in 2001 with the Redskins. After an 8-8 season, he was replaced by Steve Spurrier.
The following season ?Marty Ball? moved to San Diego. Schottenheimer went 47-33, won the AFC West twice, and reached the playoffs twice. Same formula, LaDainian Tomlinson as the work horse complemented by the smaller Darren Sprowles. Drew Brees, followed by Phillip Rivers, played quarterback for the Schottenheimer Chargers.
With the young quarterbacks, Schottenheimer tried to open up the passing game, with mixed results.
Once again like father, like son. In 2009 the Jets? offensive coordinator eased 20-year-old rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez into the NFL with a power running attack from Thomas Jones, Shon Greene and Leon Washington. Sanchez finished 2009 with 2444 yards, completing 53 percent of his passes.
The offense may look even better than 2009 with the addition of ?Marty Ball? veteran Tomlinson and Sanchez moving into his sophomore season.
Perhaps the Jets will prove (once again) that, despite fancy, spread out, pass-first offenses and five, six defensive backs on defense, championship football teams have the ability to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense.