The Philadelphia Eagles were saddened to learn on Wednesday of the passing of former Offensive Line Coach Howard Mudd, one of the game's all-time great linemen and assistant coaches. Mudd was 78 years old.
Mudd suffered significant injuries in a serious motorcycle accident on July 29 and was hospitalized in an intensive care unit in Seattle until his passing.
Mudd concluded a brilliant 38-year run as an NFL offensive line coach in Philadelphia during the 2011-12 seasons. He was brought out of retirement in 2019 to be a senior offensive assistant for the Indianapolis Colts, which is where he coached for 12 years prior to his tenure with the Eagles.
In 2011, Mudd integrated four new starters along the offensive line and helped the Eagles post 6,386 net yards (then a team record, now second in franchise history) and gain 356 first downs (also a former team record). In that 2011 season, running back LeSean McCoy flourished with 1,624 yards from scrimmage, 1,309 rushing yards, and a franchise-record and NFL-best 20 total touchdowns. McCoy earned All-Pro honors that season along with left tackle Jason Peters, as the Eagles allowed only 32 sacks, the fewest total since 2008. Center Jason Kelce, a sixth-round pick, was a Week 1 starter despite the lockout that prevented any communication with coaches until Training Camp. Kelce is today one of the elite players at his position with three consecutive first-team All-Pro selections on his resume.
While he didn't earn a Pro Bowl nomination until after Mudd left Philadelphia, Evan Mathis went from a journeyman to a fixture at left guard. Mathis said that he jumped at the chance to sign with the Eagles in 2011 to play for Mudd after getting cut by three other teams.
"The wealth of knowledge Howard has about the game has done amazing things for myself and my career," Mathis said in a 2012 interview.
Born in Midland, Michigan, Mudd was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1960s as a guard for San Francisco and Chicago. Following an eight-year career that was cut short due to injury, Mudd began his coaching career coaching the offensive line at the University of California for two years before breaking into the NFL ranks with the San Diego Chargers in 1974.
Mudd is best known for his time with the Colts as Indianapolis won 115 games in the 2000s, including an NFL-record seven straight seasons with at least 12 victories. From 1998-2009, the Colts scored a league-best 26.1 points per game and allowed the fewest sacks with 227. Quarterback Peyton Manning was a four-time NFL MVP, while Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James won two rushing titles. Mudd retired for the 2010 season before Andy Reid brought Mudd back to the sidelines in 2011 with Philadelphia.
Mudd was recognized with the Pro Football Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. He deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.