AFC East: Bum Phillips

Rex Ryan's apple better fall far from history's tree

January, 28, 2009
Posted by's Tim Graham

They were the first words out of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan's mouth at last week's introductory news conference, a clever declaration establishing that he intended not only to win a Super Bowl, but quickly.

"With all the cameras and all that, I was looking for our new president back there," Ryan said, then paused for dramatic effect.

"You know, I think we'll get to meet him in the next couple years anyway."

To make that happen, Ryan must contradict history. Ryan is the fifth son of a former NFL head coach to follow in his father's sideline paces -- and the first four have set a poor standard.

Father-son NFL head coaches
Father Record Son Record
Don Shula 328-156-6 (.678) David Shula 19-52-0 (.268)
Bum Phillips 82-77-0 (.516) Wade Phillips 70-49-0 (.588)
Jim E. Mora 125-106-0 (.541) Jim L. Mora 26-22-0 (.542)
Dick Nolan 69-82-5 (.457) Mike Nolan 18-37-0 (.327)
Buddy Ryan 55-55-1 (.500) Rex Ryan ??-??-? (.???)

David Shula, Wade Phillips, Jim Mora and Mike Nolan have pockmarked résumés. They've combined for a 133-160 regular-season record and a single playoff victory.

Shula and Nolan each posted winning percentages under .300 and were fired by the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, respectively, with zero playoff appearances.

Mora is the only head coach's son to win in the playoffs, going 1-1 with the Atlanta Falcons. Phillips, the most successful with a regular-season winning percentage of .588, has failed to win in the postseason after four tries with the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys.

So when somebody tells you about Ryan's pedigree, enlighten him or her that bloodlines mean zilch when it comes to coaching.

Ryan will need to be his own man.