Late For Work 6/29: John Harbaugh Mourns Passing Of Legendary Buddy Ryan

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John Harbaugh Mourns Passing Of Legendary Buddy Ryan

The NFL community lost one of its most influential masterminds and defensive innovators Tuesday with the passing of former head coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who died at age 85. 

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh mourned the loss of a legend and friend.

"Our hearts go out to the Ryan family and our good friends Rex and Rob," Harbaugh said in a statement. "Buddy Ryan was a great coach who had a lasting impact on our game and our profession. His sons have continued to make him proud ever since. R.I.P. Coach Buddy Ryan."

Coincidentally, Ryan passed away on the same day that the Harbaugh family celebrated the birthday of their patriarch, Jack Harbaugh. Both fathers raised two sons who excelled as coaches at the highest level of football, a truly rare feat.

Ravens fans are connected to Ryan in multiple ways.

The first, and most obvious, connection is his son Rex Ryan, who coached in Baltimore for a decade. In his final four years with the Ravens, Rex became popular as a brash and outspoken defensive coordinator who implemented a relentlessness style of play that focused on creating havoc, just like his father.

Second, Buddy's legendary 1985 Chicago Bears defense is a consistent thorn in Ravens fans' side when debating the best NFL defense of all time. In Baltimore, we think it was the 2000 Ravens squad, which Rex helped lead as the defensive line coach. But, the '85 Bears unit makes it a tough argument. Both units were feared, suffocating and the primary reason each team won a Lombardi Trophy.

When it comes down to it, Buddy's fingerprints were all over both defenses. The '85 Bears don't win the Super Bowl without Buddy's innovative and nasty 46 defense, and his influence spread to Baltimore 15 years later through Rex.

"Buddy Ryan's passion for football and knack for searing sound bites run wild in the blood of his sons, who always adored and doted over their father," wrote NFL Media's Marc Sessler. "Rex and Rob also pulled liberally from Buddy's unrelenting defensive philosophy – in essence: badger, smother and destroy quarterbacks.

" … Everything he brought to the NFL – his love for the game, his braggadocio and his utter disdain for signal-callers – remains alive and well in his twin sons. That's football."

Harbaugh and the Ravens will have a chance to offer their condolences in person. The Buffalo Bills and Ryan twins, head coach Rex and assistant coach Rob, are coming to M&T Bank Stadium to kick off the season on Sept. 11.

It will be the Ryan sons' first game without their father.

"He was many things to many people – outstanding coach, mentor, fierce competitor, father figure, faithful friend and the list goes on," Rex said in a statement. "But to me and my brothers Rob and Jim, he was so much more. He was everything you want in a dad – tough when he had to be, compassionate when you didn't necessarily expect it, and a loving teacher and confidant who cherished his family. He truly was our hero."

Eugene Monroe Taking His Time Before Signing With A New Team

Former Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe says he isn't rushing into a deal with any NFL teams after being released by Baltimore on June 15.

While Monroe, 29, received interest soon after he hit the market, he wants to weigh his options and make a smart decision, not a fast one.

"We've been in discussions with a few teams, but this is very new," Monroe told Sirius XM NFL Radio Tuesday. "I've been released, and it's been just a short amount of time since this happened. So I'm weighing my options right now. I don't feel like I have to jump on one of the first opportunities that come up. I'm just trying to be patient, wait on the right opportunity, and also just decide what's going to be the best move for my family. I have a wife and three children. There's a lot more at stake than simply just jumping on a deal."

Monroe received early reported interest from the New York Giants, but it appeared they wanted him to play on the right side. Throughout his eight-year career, Monroe has made a living on the left side.

"I'm waiting on the best situation for me," Monroe said when asked if he'd switch sides. "What that looks like, time will tell. I've been playing in this league for a long time, successfully so, especially when I've been healthy. I'm in no rush, but I'm certainly very respectful of the opportunity that I've been presented with. By no means am I purposely dragging anyone along. However, I'm going into my eighth year in the NFL, and I want to make a wise decision."

Kamar Aiken, Steve Smith Sr. Have Two Best WR Contracts In NFL

While the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) believe Joe Flacco's contract is one of the worst in the NFL at the quarterback position, they also think Baltimore boasts the two best contracts at wide receiver.

Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith Sr. took the top two spots as the most underpaid wide receivers in the game, meaning their production on the field far outweighs the zeros on their paychecks. Both players have one year remaining on their deals, with Aiken counting just $2.55 million against the cap and Smith $4.17 million. 

Depending on health factors at the position, these two could be the Ravens' starting receivers this season – all for the bargain price of just over $6 million. To put that in perspective, that's less than half of what Denver's Demaryius Thomas makes alone. Thomas posted just over 1,300 receiving yards last season while Smith and Aiken combined for 1,614 yards. And Smith was lost for the season in Week 8.

"With [Breshad] Perriman's health again a question this offseason, the Ravens should be more than happy to have Aiken in the fold at his current rate, which stems from the second-round tender placed on him during the offseason," wrote PFF's Eric Eager.

"Having just one negatively-graded season in the PFF era, Smith has been a marvel of consistency throughout his 15-year NFL career. As he has aged, he has simply become more valuable, maintaining substantial production while commanding marginal salaries relative to his peers. Before tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 8 of the 2015 season, his cumulative PFF grade was second only to Julio Jones amongst wide receivers, despite earning less money than the likes of Kenny Britt, Dwayne Bowe, and Riley Cooper."

PFF's 5 Best Wide Receiver Contracts
1. Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens (average remaining cap hit per year: $2.55 million)
2. Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens ($4.17 million)
3. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots ($4.84 million)
4. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks ($6.33 million)
5. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos ($6.60 million)

PFF's 5 Worst Wide Receiver Contracts
1. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (average remaining cap hit per year: $14.2 million)
2. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys ($15.75 million)
3. Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($12.21 million)
4. Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders ($8.5 million)
5. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals ($15.85 million)

Quick Hits

  • Ravens Staff Assistant Ronnie Teasley volunteered to coach at the Kutztown, Pennsylvania University Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp.  (Photo credit: Mark Stephens)
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