I will summarize all reasons I think for Buddy Ryan’s appeal 20 years after he coached the Philadelphia Eagles. A summary will follow since I put them all through my blog.
Buddy Ryan used a quarterback, Randall Cunningham, as a major weapon in his ground game. Cunningham was not the first scrambler. That honor goes to Fran Tarkenton and later Roger Staubach. However, both of them moved to escape sacks and left their receivers time to get open. Those two often plowed through for short yardage anywhere on the field. As might be expected, their skills where especially evident in goal line situations.
Randall Cunningham was in a class by himself. Buddy Ryan used him as as a major, or perhaps the first, weapon in his ground game. It took Fran Tarkenton 18 years to exceed 5,000 rushing in a career. Cunningham broke that record in five years. Randall eluded tacklers with the ease of a halfback; often hurdled defenders ; and never went out of bounds if he could gain additional yardage. Some people claimed Buddy Ryan used him too much and neglected his strong arm.
Here are Randall Cunningham’s running statistics working for Ryan on the run. It is amazing he lead the Birds in rushing four consecutive years.
1986-540 yards; 8.2 average-second
1987-505 yards; 6.6 average-first and remaining so until 1990
1988-624 yards; 6.7 average
1989-621 yards; 6.o average
1990-942 yards; 8.0 average
I will discuss some flaws in Cunningham later. No one, however, can fault his running.