Why Did Howard Mudd Re-Join The Colts Coaching Staff?
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INDIANAPOLIS – The call was a reference check to find out more about offensive line candidate Chris Strausser.
And by the time Frank Reich hung up, he wanted to also hire the guy he had just talked to.
The 90-minute call with Howard Mudd had Reich heading straight towards his boss’ office.
“I got off the phone and I was blown away,” Reich recalls of re-connecting again with Mudd. “I was like, ‘He hasn’t changed. He is still as smart as he has ever been.'
“I went over into Chris’ office and I was like, ‘I think we need to do something here. I think we need to get Howard back here. This guy is incredible, he is a living legend, one of the best offensive line coaches ever.’”
Just like that, the Colts were going to hire the man Reich had called about (Strausser), and the reference (Mudd).
At the age of 77, Howard Mudd is back in the NFL as a senior offensive assistant for a couple of reasons.
For one, he believes in new offensive line coach Chris Strausser.
In retirement, Mudd was living in Seattle, across the lake from the University of Washington, where Strausser was coaching the offensive line. In Strausser’s 3 seasons at Washington (2014-16), he invited Mudd over to offer his insight.
Mudd was quickly impressed.
“He did just a remarkable job,” Mudd said of Strausser’s time at Washington. “I went over there and said, ‘We need guys like you in the NFL. Have you ever thought about that?’”
Sure enough, the Denver Broncos hired Strausser as their assistant offensive line coach in 2017. He was promoted a year later and is now in Indianapolis, working with Mudd.
That bond Mudd has built with Strausser had him intrigued by what Reich officially offered earlier this year.
The long-time NFL lifer of more than 40 years has been on staffs with Reich and he remembers the sponge asking all those questions a decade ago.
“He was very inquisitive and very intuitive,” Mudd recalls about Reich, with the two working together from 2006-09 in Indianapolis. “He had just gotten back into coaching himself. He was very inquisitive. He would ask a lot of questions. We had an encounter where he was only asking a question and I thought he was questioning what we were doing. It was an irritation. But it wasn’t. He was just asking questions. He asks lots of questions. He wants to know why. Why do we do that? Why do we do this? Why do you take that step? Why do you do this? That bodes very well for the player because then the player has a reference point to start a play and that allows the player to play faster when they know exactly how to do something.”
Mudd’s attraction to get back into things included many factors one would expect: his relationship with Strausser/Reich, the obvious talent in the Colts offensive line room and watching Andrew Luck return in 2018.
But there’s one more thing that Mudd has quickly loved in his return.
“The other thing is the atmosphere in the offensive staff room, it’s the best I have ever been around,” the 40-year coaching veteran says. “These guys all have a lot to say about what you’re doing, but they also have a lot to listen to when you talk to them. That’s just a great atmosphere when you’ve got eight guys in the room and we don’t have someone bored because we’re talking about the running game or something like that.
“And then Frank’s leadership in there. Frank is just like everyone else. He says, ‘Well, I might get voted down, but let’s do it another way.’ It’s very collaborative and I really like it.”
And Reich, and the Colts, are thrilled to have one of the game’s most decorated assistant back in the building.