Offensive line guru Howard Mudd was lured out of retirement by Eagles head coach Andy Reid last summer to help maximize the abilities of a talented and athletic offensive line. While it took a few weeks into the regular season to accomplish it, Mudd ultimately watched his unit gel into one of the game’s best a season ago.
Mudd plugged in a late-round draft pick in Jason Kelce and made him an effective and productive center. He revitalized the career of guard Evan Mathis. He got Danny Watkins onto the field and watched him significantly improve as the season progressed. And he watched left tackle Jason Peters have the best season of what was his already accomplished career.
There is little doubt that the 70-year-old coach is still razor sharp and that his players respond well to his teaching style. But there may be some concern on the horizon regarding Mudd as the Eagles assemble today for organized team activities. Mudd will not be in attendance for the start of OTAs, just as he wasn’t present for the team’s rookie workouts.
Les Bowen brushes aside Mudd’s absence in a piece posted Monday afternoon.
“The Eagles insist that Mudd is OK and will be back long before the spring minicamps are over. Basically, at 70, having been lured out of retirement last year by Andy Reid, Mudd decides when he wants to work.”
Now, to be fair, I’m sure Mudd’s absence was planned. And it doesn’t mean that the line is in for a complete meltdown without his presence. But what gives? As a team assembles for the first time to lay the groundwork for the upcoming season, wouldn’t it be in the team’s best interest if one of its more recognizable and respected coaches were in attendance?
He may have a valid excuse for not attending the OTAs from the jump, but if the reason really is that “Mudd decides when he wants to work,” well, that’s a bit alarming.
This goes beyond Mudd needing to integrate the Eagles’ rookies into the system. Really, this is about the progress of Demetress Bell, who the Eagles signed in the wake of the devastating Jason Peters’ injury. Bell is expected to do more than just fill in–he’s expected to play well. And it’d be nice to have Howard Mudd out there from day one to ensure that happens.
Here’s hoping Mudd is back soon and that assistant offensive line coach Eugene Chung has this all under control. Still, you have to at least wonder when Mudd will be back.