Howard Mudd says coaches, CBA rules are at fault for poor OL play, not college spread offenses

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Howard Mudd spent 38 years as an offensive line coach in the NFL after a seven-year playing career that saw him named an All-Pro twice and a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Mudd is as well-versed in offensive line play as anyone and he believes the quality of line play in the NFL is lacking for two reasons: lack of practice time and poor coaching.

In a wide-ranging chat with Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 in Cleveland, Mudd said the reduced practice time in the NFL and poor coaching is hurting line play the most.

They can’t go on the field and do anything. You can’t even talk to them,” Mudd said of the rules of the new CBA. “So these offensive linemen are wandering around, and it’s not an instinctive position. This is truly a skilled position. Skill is something that you learn to do. It isn’t something instinctive like the other guys that catch passes and stuff like that.

“So the offensive lineman, he’s not perfecting his skills in the offseason. So he shows up June 1 and he’s been working out in the weight room, but he’s not perfecting those body movements that you need to do to pass protect.”

However, Mudd isn’t critical of the talent entering the league from college like others have been. For instance, Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable has blamed the proliferation of spread offenses in college for not being able to prepare collegiate offensive linemen for the pro game.

“I’m not wanting to offend anybody, but college football, offensively, has gotten to be really, really bad fundamentally,” Cable said last May on 710 ESPN in Seattle. “Unfortunately, I think we’re doing a huge disservice to offensive football players, other than a receiver, that come out of these spread systems. “The runners aren’t as good. They aren’t taught how to run. The blockers aren’t as good. The quarterbacks aren’t as good. They don’t know how to read coverage and throw progressions. They have no idea.”

Mudd puts the onus back on the coaches to do a better job.

“People in the NFL, they say these guys don’t know how to play, it takes us two years to coach them,” Mudd said. “We’ve been doing that for 40 years, coaching an offensive lineman who didn’t know how to play when they got here. Go coach them. My brow is furrowed because it pisses me off to say it’s their fault. It ain’t their fault. It’s your fault. Go coach them.”

Mudd coached for seven different teams during his NFL career from 1974-2012. He worked for the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. He also played for the 49ers from 1964-69 and the Chicago Bears from 1969-70.

12 responses to “Howard Mudd says coaches, CBA rules are at fault for poor OL play, not college spread offenses

  1. My beloved Colts had some of their best offensive line play EVER under Coach Mudd. He knows what he’s talking about. And by the way, coach, you are welcome back to Indy any time.

  2. Mudd is only partially correct. He lived through the years where colleges were providing almost-ready players, and coaches could coast at their jobs if they were able to draft talent high enough to guarantee production.

    Those days can no longer be taken for granted. As the spread offense grows in the college circuit (because it works there and college coaches are more concerned with winning than providing the NFL with players), pro-style college programs dwindle, which slowly closes the tap on plug-and-play draft choices.

    The effect will be most noticeable with the next batch of QBs to come out over the next several years…in fact, it’s rumored that the reason Philly & LA paid so much to move up this year is that Wentz and Goff, while probably little more than slightly above average, are still stand-outs when compared to what’s going to become available in the future.

    So now the emphasis will move towards the scouts’ ability to find (as-yet undeveloped) talent as well as the coaches’ ability to train that talent up, mainly because that is no longer being done in college.

  3. Probably a combination of both. Poor line play is league wide and because it’s a skill position they need to change CBA so that these coaches can teach these kids the skills they need to play the position. Nobody wants to watch football where the run is stuffed every play and the QB is scrambling for his life every play.

  4. Hey Joe Bob you know what that coach wanted me to do today, He wanted me to Practice, “We talking bout Practice”!!

  5. In the Next CBA the NFL should push for relaxing the practice time restrictions for rookies and second year players. Let the vets rest, coach up the rookies and your product will be much better..

  6. The CBA is the cause of many injuries, players cannot practice how we used to practice ….. they go into the season physically unprepared.

  7. I really do not follow College Football that much, but it seems to me in general the teams with the best recruited players win. If you main recruiting tool was, “Hey our offense and Defense play the style most NFL teams play so that our players are the most NFL ready which will probably mean they will go higher in the draft than a similar player not NFL ready.” That would be more attractive to me than we won our conference or we were in the tourney last year.”

  8. That works if you’re a player. If you’re the coach, you’re less concerned with your players’ draft prospects and NFL-readiness than you are with winning in order to remain employed. The spread works in college, so coaches use it.

  9. I heard an interview on NFL network with him very interesting person…..passionate about line play

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