As he follows Juan Castillo, Howard Mudd is careful not to disparage him.
"I'm treading on the guy I'm succeeding, and I don't want to do that," Mudd said
Still . . . Mudd's lines in Indianapolis allowed 18.5 sacks per season. Castillo's allowed 40.5 per season in the same time span.
Of course, Mudd's Colts lines protected Peyton Manning, a predictable, immobile quarterback all too willing to throw balls away. Castillo's Eagles dealt mainly with Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick, the most electric scramblers in league history, who welcomed contact and who hated to waste a down.
"There's some stuff we need to clean up. Including Mike's understanding of who's not blocked; that, if there's a guy who's not blocked, get it out of your hand," Mudd said. "We want Mike to live to play the next play."
Mudd understands that sometimes you just get beat. But if anyone falters in either technique or assignment . . .
"The guys who don't do what they're supposed to do up front, they're not going to like coming over to the sideline. It's going to be ugly with me," Mudd said.
Will it be fair to expect proficiency from his line, which, because of the ongoing lockout, he cannot coach this offseason?
Mudd's coaching philosophy emphasizes using a player's athleticism and instincts. It is based on a hopping rhythm that allows a lineman to adjust, then plant and drive when needed.
Can former free-agent left tackle Jason Peters, who just got the hang of Castillo's methods, adjust to a third technique in three seasons? Can veterans Winston Justice, Todd Herremans? Can rookie first-rounder Danny Watkins?
"I really don't believe that the learning curve is that great. In many respects, it's simpler. We make football too complicated," Mudd said. "It doesn't make any difference how old you are. In order to be coached, you've got to want to be coached. The ones who don't want to are going to get kicked in the ass and do it anyway."
- Marcus Hayes