Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd had been a great coach for the Indianapolis Colts for years. He had put together the offensive line, which protected future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. Their system was a work of art.
They ran the stretch running play, which required Manning to take the snap and almost run laterally to get the ball to the running back. Mudd’s offensive linemen would get the opposing team’s big defensive linemen moving laterally and it would make it easier for Mudd’s guys to push them all over the field as the running back cut upfield through mammoth holes.
Mudd espoused smaller, more athletic linemen, who would keep Peyton clean for 2.5 to 3 seconds and the ball would be out of Manning’s hands to an open receiver before the defensive line could get there. Smaller and more athletic offensive linemen, who were released by other teams would find their way to Indy and have success playing for Mudd.
The rest of the league looked on and marveled. Their system frustrated and disarmed defenses throughout the league and they made it look easy. Mudd and Manning were a beautiful long-term successful marriage.
The coach retired a couple of years ago after putting in more than a decade of orchestrating the offensive line in front of Manning. He walked away from the game and was enjoying himself while spending time in the great outdoors with his motorcycle and hunting equipment. All was well, he had finished a great playing and coaching career, and was now retired.
Unfortunately, he was talked into walking away from his retirement by Reid and his buddy Jim Washburn. Reid was looking for a way to reward one of his most loyal and worthy assistants, Juan Castillo. Long-time offensive line coach, Castillo, had been dreaming of becoming a head coach and he thought the quickest way to do it was by returning to the defensive side of the ball. Years ago, he had played and coached defense on the college level,
Juan had been very loyal to Andy throughout the years and Reid appreciated Castillo’s tremendous commitment of time and effort through the years in developing good offensive lines, which allowed Reid to successfully run his west coast offense.
The head coach was blinded by his desire to give Castillo the same opportunity to be a NFL head coach, which he had given to John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Steve Spagnuolo, Ron Riviera and Leslie Frazier.
Ignoring more than a decade of work as one of the league’s top offensive line coaches to return to the defensive side of the ball was a foolish move and it was obviously foolish.
Reid didn’t protect Castillo from himself, when Juan applied for the defensive coordinator position. The head coach could have used his influence to get Castillo a raise and then talked him out of the move. Instead, he let Juan talk him into making one of the worst decisions of his tenure as the Eagles head coach.
It hurt the Eagles in two ways. First of all on the offensive line, despite Mudd’s credentials, he didn’t have the attitude and energy, nor drive to work with and develop the offensive line the way Castillo had for years.
On the defensive side of the ball, Castillo was not prepared to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL. I remember listening to him after the news conference to announce his hiring. He talked about working hard and fundamentals, but never said anything about the number one part of his job as defensive coordinator. competing on the strategy level with the offensive coordinators in the National Football League.
Back to Mudd, he’s an old man who doesn’t have the patience needed to teach and develop the backup offensive linemen on this football team. He uses a different blocking techniques than other offensive line coaches around the league wasn’t here for the off season workouts. Reid let him stay home even though they knew Jason Peters was going to miss the season and new left tackle Demetress Bell had never played in Mudd’s system.
Here you’ve got a football team, which blamed their disappointing 2011 season on the lack of off season work because of the strike, yet their offensive line coach doesn’t attend the off season workouts, despite having a new left tackle who has been recently acquired by the football team and has never played in his system.
I stood by the offensive and defensive line drills during training camp and listened to Mudd completely give up on Bell. He had worked with him a total of three days, yet he was ready to give up. Mudd and the offensive tackle never seemed to develop a decent level of communication, and I don’t know if the offensive tackle understands the offensive line coach’s system. This should have been taken care of in May rather than in August, September and October.
I guarantee you that Juan Castillo would have gotten more out of Bell than Mudd has. Mudd didn’t seem to have any patience with the young offensive linemen during training camp. Unfortunately, these guys are the players who have been hurting the Eagles all season.
Earlier in Reid’s tenure, I remember the amount of time Castillo would spend with the backup offensive linemen. People around the team would joke that Castillo would be coaching those backups on the plane or follow them into the bathroom working on their techniques and assignments.
Each day after practice, Castillo would spend hours with the backup offensive linemen. He was the only reason a lot of those journeymen players were in the NFL. He put money in their pockets because of the way he worked and developed them. Castillo would wear that little smile and be constantly coaching those backups. Castillo’s constant coaching was a fixture on the football team.
He would never miss a moment to start coaching. The guy loved to see his younger players develop and he would get excited talking about them. Castillo loved to coach so much that he would start coaching me, when I was interviewing him.
Sometimes he would have the young backup offensive linemen working against the team’s backup defensive linemen after practice. They would come in sweating about 45 minutes to an hour after the rest of the team had finished practice. He would never miss the chance to work with those backups.
Juan was the guy who everybody talked about when restrictions were made during the strike about how long players would have to practice. I remember having good laughs with Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas about Juan coaching those backups.
Castillo left no stone unturned when it came to developing the backups and he was excited about it. His heart was in it and that’s one of the reasons the players loved Juan.
Mudd on the other hand, doesn’t spend any extra time with the backup offensive linemen and you’re seeing the results of that neglect on the field right now. He didn’t have any patience with the younger players during training camp. He and defensive line coach Jim Washburn would jump on one of the golf carts and zoom off the practice field immediately when the practices finished.
Unfortunately for Mudd and the Eagles, injuries to the offensive line has exposed Mudd’s shortcomings. I have never seen a quarterback get pounded as much as Michael Vick, He finally was knocked out of a game this season with a concussion, but the guy took more of a pounding than any quarterback I’ve ever seen and he can thank Mudd for this. The offensive line coach never focused on improving and developing backups like Dallas Reynolds, King Dunlap and Dennis Kelly.
I’ve also noticed that Reid is slow to chastise his veteran coaches Mudd and Washburn. The head coach respects the careers of these two veteran coaches and has let it affect the way he treats them. Reid never had a problem chewing out an assistant coach during his time with the Birds, but for some reason he slower to verbally go after Mudd and Washburn.
I’m sure Reid now realizes he made a huge mistake in moving Castillo and talking Mudd out of retirement, but it’s much too late.