Buddy Ryan's advice to his son, Rex, when he took over as head coach of the New York Jets one year ago was simple: "Don't screw it up."
No problem, Dad.
"He's done a great job," Buddy Ryan said Tuesday. "He's turned it into an aggressive team."
It's the Ryan Way.
Rex Ryan grew up watching his dad -- a Korean War veteran who turned to football after graduating from Oklahoma State -- build some of football's top defenses behind a relentlessness that focused on creating havoc on the field.
The team that takes the field against the Indianapolis Colts has all the hallmarks of a Ryan-coached club, namely a tough defense and a swagger that filters from the top down.
"When I was in training camp, I thought they had a (heck) of a team," Buddy Ryan said. "They have a good offensive line. The best defense in the league. Everything he said he'd get, he did get."
"I learned more football from him than anywhere else," he said.
Including his father's sense of gamesmanship.
It was meant to give the Jets a confidence boost. It also drew a chuckle from his dad, who never shied away from controversy during his lengthy coaching career.
"He's honest and he knows his business, and players know that, and that's what they want," said Buddy Ryan, who lives in Kentucky and will be in the stands Sunday.
Buddy Ryan, who said he and Rex will have dinner Saturday night, also said his son usually calls after each game.
Those losses taught important lessons to his son.
The Jets have their fair share of youth, including rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Not that it seems to have mattered during the playoff run, as Sanchez has used the league's best defense to grow up on the job.
"That's something my dad was very proud of," Rex said. "When (former Jets coach Weeb) Eubank hired him, he had to make a difference. If he felt he wasn't making a difference, then his career as a professional coach would be short."
Instead, Buddy Ryan's influence is felt to this day.
"Going against a Buddy Ryan defense, Rex Ryan defense or whatever Ryan you're going against that day, it's going to be a proud tradition," Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris said. "They are going to be physical, tough men out there playing against you. You know that. You've got to be ready to deal."
The Ryans wouldn't have it any other way.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press