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Bill Belichick pays tribute to Buddy Ryan

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick said it was always a challenge going up against Buddy Ryan.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined the NFL community in mourning the loss of defensive guru Buddy Ryan, who died Tuesday. The Patriots released a statement from Belichick.

"Today is a sad day in football due to the passing of Buddy Ryan. It was always very challenging to compete against Coach Ryan, who was father to a great football family that carries on his coaching and defensive tradition. My condolences are with the Ryan Family."

It's not the first time that Belichick praised Ryan for his defensive ingenuity. In October of 2012, the Patriots were preparing for the New York Jets, who were then coached by Buddy's son, Rex. Leading up to the game, Belichick was asked about Buddy's "46 Defense," which was used by the 1985 Bears on their dominating run to Super Bowl XX, a 46-10 win over the Patriots. Buddy was the defensive coordinator for Chicago that season.

"In a two-back set, I'd say it was probably a lot cleaner and it always gave you an extra blitzer that was hard for the offense," said Belichick. "Even if they seven-man protected on play-action, there was always an eighth guy there somewhere. You didn't have to bring all eight; if you just brought the right one and they didn't have him or somebody would have to have two guys and that creates some problems.

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"I think that's what Buddy really, where the genius of that was; he had by formation a different combination and group of blitzes so depending on what formation you were in, then he ran a blitz that would attack that formation and then when you changed formations, then he would change blitzes."

Belichick hired Rex's son, Rob, when he was named head coach of the Patriots in 2000. Rob served as the linebackers coach from 2000-03, winning two Super Bowls with the club.

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