Howard Mudd has been coaching NFL offensive linemen for 36 years. He has tutored a lot of good ones, but before Andy Reid coaxed him out of retirement last January, he never had to give much thought when somebody asked him to name the best player he ever coached.
Jones was the Seattle Seahawks' left tackle for a dozen dominating years before retiring after the '08 season. Went to nine Pro Bowls. Almost certainly will get voted into Canton in his first year of eligibility.
Mudd only coached Jones for 1 year, but knew greatness when he saw it. The fact that he was up in Seattle last year when the Seahawks retired Jones' jersey tells you the kind of respect and admiration he had for the guy.
Mudd never thought he'd see another left tackle as good as Jones. But 13 games into his first season as the Eagles' offensive line coach, Jason Peters has caused him to reconsider.
While it has been overshadowed by the Eagles' disappointing 5-8 record, Peters, a four-time Pro Bowler, is having the best season of his career. Right here, right now, he is the best left tackle in the NFL.
"Oh yeah, I really believe that," Mudd said this week. "If anyone doesn't think [Peters is the best left tackle in the league], I would categorically ask them to give me one who is as good. I didn't say better. I said as good. So that puts him in a pretty rarified place.
"The only other guy I've coached who's like him is Walter. That's it. He's got remarkable talent. Balance. Athleticism. Strength. He's so fast. You've seen him lead screens and things like that. It's kind of awesome really the physical talent that he has."
Peters has flourished under Mudd, which is a little surprising because when Mudd took the Eagles job, some wondered whether Peters was a "Mudd kind of player." It was said that Mudd preferred smaller, more athletic linemen as opposed to the big-bellied mashers that Reid and Juan Castillo seemed to favor.
But while Peters is 6-4 and weighs in the neighborhood of 340 pounds, he also might be the best athlete on the Eagles.
"To be that big and be as athletic as he is, it's unbelievable," left guard Evan Mathis said. "To sum him up as an athlete, he's light on his feet. To say someone who's what, 345-350 pounds, is light on his feet is really not something you ever hear. But he can move.
"He already was recognized as one of the league's best offensive linemen and has taken it to the next level. To grasp a completely new offensive line philosophy in Howard's scheme, it fits him really well."
The biggest difference between Mudd's blocking technique and Castillo's is that Mudd teaches his linemen to force the contact in pass protection rather than take a vertical set and wait for the pass-rusher to come to you.
"I don't know if Jason will ever admit this, but I think Howard coming here has benefitted him tremendously," center Jason Kelce said. "Because the set he does now, it's like d-ends don't even stand a chance against him. It's so suited to him and his abilities.
"He gets on them right now. When he sets vertical, his arms aren't as long as a lot of tackles. So it lets guys get momentum and they can take the fight to him. Whereas when he's able to use everything he's got, it's pretty fun to watch."
Actually, Peters is only too happy to admit that Mudd's system fits him very well.
"I kind of force the pass-rusher to play off me instead of sitting back and letting him wiggle and do his thing," he said. "I get him off-balance and get on him and keep him off-balance. I enjoy playing for Howard. He's a good coach."
Peters is flattered that Mudd likens him to Jones because he's a big fan of Jones.
"Walter Jones was a great left tackle," he said. "He's in my top five, my top three, easy. He's the reason I wear number 71. I always used to watch him when I started playing."
The rap on Peters when the Eagles acquired him from Buffalo in '09 was that he had a bit of the dog in him. Had a lot of talent, but didn't always work hard. When the going got tough, well, sometimes Peters got going and sometimes he didn't. Two years ago, in the Eagles' playoff loss to the Cowboys, he didn't.
When Reid decided to bring in Mudd and make Castillo his defensive coordinator, no one was sure how Peters would take to this gruff old ex-offensive lineman with the bad knees and bad hip and bad back. Turns out he's taken to him just fine.
"We give guidelines," Mudd said. "[I say], 'OK, here's what we expect. Here's the quality that we expect. If you buy into that and agree with that, then go live up to that standard.' And I think he's done all of those things. He's bought into it and has lived up to the standard."
Kelce, a rookie sixth-round pick out of the University of Cinncinati, became a Jason Peters believer the first day they put pads on in training camp.
"He and Trent Cole went up against each other," Kelce said. "I knew Trent because he and I both went to the same school. Whenever I watched the Eagles, I'd always watch Trent. Former [UC] alum. Guy that made it. One of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
"So going there [to camp], I'm kind of expecting Trent to just beat Jason. And Jason just manhandles him. I mean it wasn't even close. For most of camp it was that way. His physical abilities, I've never seen somebody that big move that well. It's incredible.
"I don't think there's anybody close to Jason on this team or in this league as far as the athleticism that he has. He'll do things that are untechnically sound. But he has the balance and the athleticism that he can do it. I mean he'll jump out of his stance sometimes. It's mind-blowing."
Figuring the Eagles
* The Eagles have given up 23 touchdown passes. According to STATS, the linebackers and safeties have been responsible for 16. A breakdown of those 23 TDs along with some other pertinent numbers:
Targ. Rec. Yards TDs
Brian Rolle 26 20 225 4
Asante Samuel 66 29 375 3
N. Asomugha 30 15 276 3
Kurt Coleman 31 18 426 3
Jamar Chaney 48 28 302 2
Moise Fokou 11 9 92 2
Nate Allen 18 10 226 2
Jarrad Page 19 13 181 2
Joselio Hanson 27 15 167 1
C. Matthews 5 3 58 1
D. Cromartie 27 16 250 0
* One of the most overlooked aspects of LeSean McCoy's phenomenal season is that he hasn't fumbled. He has had 287 touches without putting the ball on the ground. Despite the fact that he carries the ball away from his body, McCoy hasn't fumbled in 300 touches dating to the first quarter of last year's playoff loss to the Packers. He hasn't fumbled in 429 regular-season touches. He hasn't lost a fumble in 472 touches. And that one, against the Redskins last October, took a replay challenge reversal to be ruled a fumble. It's been his only lost fumble in his last 668 touches.
* In the Eagles' first 12 games this season, McCoy averaged 6.7 yards per carry in the fourth quarter. Against the Dolphins, he averaged minus-.5 yards per carry in the fourth quarter (minus-5 yards on 10 carries. He had been averaging 4.7 yards per carry on first down. Against Miami, he averaged .07 yards on first down (1 yard on 14 carries).
* Nine of McCoy's 14 rushing touchdowns have come on second down.
* Eight of Jason Babin's 15 sacks have come on first down.
* The Eagles have thrown a league-high 23 interceptions, which already are the most picks they've thrown in a season since 1991 when Jim McMahon (11), Brad Goebel (6), Jeff Kemp (5), Pat Ryan (4) and fullback Keith Byars (1) collaborated for 27.
* In the Eagles' first seven games this season, McCoy averaged 5.6 yards per carry. In their last six, he averaged just 3.9.
* Last year, DeSean Jackson had 20 receptions of 10 yards or more in his first 12 starts. This year, he has just 13.
* Seven of the 23 interceptions thrown by Eagles quarterbacks have come on their first (three) or second (four) possession.
* The Eagles have turned the ball over eight times in the red zone. That's three more red-zone giveaways than they had the last two seasons combined.
* The Eagles continue to be among the worst yardage managers in the league. They are fourth in total offense (yards), but 15th in scoring. They are averaging just 5.72 points per 100 yards. Their opponent on Sunday, the Jets, have gained 1,147 fewer yards than the Eagles and are 25th in total offense, but sixth in scoring. They are averaging 8.09 points per 100 yards.
To Brad McCoy, the father of Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, for publicly criticizing the Browns for not realizing his son suffered a
concussion after taking a
vicious helmet-to-jaw hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison last Thursday. McCoy was knocked unconscious, then was permitted to re-enter the game two plays later. "He never should have gone back in the game," said Brad McCoy, a longtime Texas high school football coach. "He was basically out [cold] after the hit. You could tell by the rigidity of his body as he was laying there [on the ground]. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should've told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn't know who he was. From what I could see, they didn't even test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his [left] hand."
To the Browns for failing to diagnose McCoy's concussion after he was drilled by Harrison and then incredibly, letting him go back in the game. In defending his medical and training staff this week, club president Mike Holmgren used the same lame excuse the Eagles did early last season when they allowed linebacker Stewart Bradley to go back into a game against the Packers with a concussion even after millions of television viewers saw him fall and need help getting up as he walked off the field
after getting hit: They didn't see it. Even if the Browns' doctors and trainers didn't see the hit, the coaches certainly did. You didn't need a medical degree to watch that hit and realize McCoy should have been shut down for the rest of the night. Just a wee bit of common sense.
FROM THE LIP
* "My fervent hope is that Jim's job is not in jeopardy because my
fervent hope is that we don't go 0-16."
- Colts vice chairman Bill Polian on the job security of his head coach, Jim Caldwell
* "He's a real fine young man. I sort of like that he's about spirituality; that the country is thinking about spirituality."
- Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Broncos QB Tim Tebow
* "Well, I can't answer that. I was a P.E. major [in college] not a sociology major. So I can't really answer that other than I know everybody in this building likes him a lot."
- Broncos coach John Fox when asked why he thinks there are so many negative feelings toward Tim Tebow
* "I feel like I'm 25 again. But in reality, I'm 34, and for me, to have the opportunity to still play in this league, that a team still wants me on their roster, that's what's good. I really feel fortunate."
- Ravens RB Ricky Williams
BY THE NUMBERS
* According to pregame.com, the Eagles are the first team in more than 25 seasons with a 5-8 record to be favored by at least a field goal over a team - the Jets - with an 8-5 record.
* Aaron Rodgers has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 13 consecutive games, tying him with Don Meredith (1965-66), Peyton Manning (2004) and Tom Brady (2010-11) for the longest such streak in league history.
* With 135 points this season, 49ers placekicker David Akers is leading the league in scoring and is third in franchise history for points in a single season. He trails only kicker Mike Cofer (136 points in '89) and Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice (138 in '87).
* There already have been 14 individual 400-yard passing performances in the league this season. That surpasses the previous league record of 13 in '86 and '04.
* Panthers QB Cam Newton has thrown for 3,573 yards. He needs just 167 more to break Peyton Manning's record for most passing yards in a season by a rookie.
* Since the start of the '09 season, a 45-game span, the Steelers have allowed just 82 runs of 10 yards or more. That's the fewest in the league over that period.
* Tom Brady is 1-5 against the Broncos.