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Tag:Howard Mudd
Posted on: October 12, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

Film Room: Redskins vs. Eagles preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



What is wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles? Theories about chemistry, the pressure of high expectations, focus, character and, everybody’s favorite, the “It Factor” make for great talk show palaver. But they lack substance. Fortunately, there are cameras in the sky that can answer Football America’s current favorite question. Heading into a matchup against their division rival Washington Redskins, here’s what the film says is wrong with this nightmare of a Dream Team.


1. Offensive Line
You already know that Philly’s offensive line is young, incongruent and, as of late, banged up. That’s all true. And, perhaps a little bit surprising. Youth is youth, nothing you can do about that. But with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd installing his straightforward and famously teachable blocking techniques, you’d figure things would click up front a little quicker than they have (or have not).

Under previous O-line coach Juan Castillo, there were five to six different blocking techniques that Eagles linemen had to correctly choose from on any given play. It’s not easy to be fundamentally sound when you first have to think about which fundamentals to use. Mudd changed that. He teaches only one technique that has built-in variations depending on the situation.

So far, many situations have been difficult for the Eagles line to handle. That’s in part due to youth (rookie center Jason Kelce had a costly blitz-pickup gaffe against the Bills, and right guard Danny Watkins initially failed to hold onto his starting job) and in part due to injuries (with Winston Justice on the shelf, Todd Herremans has played at the unfamiliar right tackle position, which has left a void at Herremans’ left guard spot; at left tackle, big but awkward King Dunlap has been filling in for injured Pro Bowler Jason Peters).
 
Though it hasn’t been smooth sailing off the dock, this Eagles’ line is not as atrocious as people think. It’s an athletic group that fits the system well and should improve. Of course, people may not notice the improvements given that the man this unit blocks for always has, and always will, make his linemen look bad.

2. Vick and his line
As Mudd explains so eloquently, offensive linemen are the only athletes in all of sports that play with their backs constantly to the ball. Linemen protect the man holding the ball, but they can’t see the man holding the ball. Because of that, their positioning and execution are built on trust and timing.
Michael Vick’s sandlot nature obliterates that timing.

This isn’t just about Eagles blockers not knowing where Vick is when he’s scrambling around (though that’s part of it); it’s about Vick not having a feel for timing his drop-backs. Quarterbacks take three-step drops when receivers run short routes, five step drops on intermediate routes and seven-or nine-step drops on long routes. Simply taking the steps isn’t enough – you have to synchronize them with the timing of the routes and with the timing of the pass protection concepts.

Vick has a poor sense of this timing. It’s part of his collection of flawed fundamentals. Often, he makes up for his flaws with insanely athletic plays. But in the process, life is always difficult for his blockers.

3. Defensive Wide-9 Technique
People are starting to grumble about new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo’s scheme – and rightfully so. It’s a Wide-9, which is a system built around generating a pass-rush with your front four. The defensive ends align in 9-technique positions, which means they’re outside the tight ends. This puts the defensive ends in space and allows them to be sprinters out of the box. It’s ideal for guys like Trent Cole and Jason Babin, both of whom are having productive years rushing the passer.

The problem is this system puts a considerable strain on a linebacking unit. As Ron Jaworski pointed out in the Lions-Bears Monday Night game, with the ends aligning so far wide, offenses run to the gaping holes inside. This is what the defense is designed to do. The Wide-9 aims to shrink the field by steering all the action inside. But this demands physical, stout linebackers who can take on blocks and play downhill.

The Eagles simply don’t have any. Exacerbating matters is the fact that their miscast linebackers are also inexperienced. Jamar Chaney is a sophomore seventh-round pick who has shuffled from one position to another. Brian Rolle is a sixth-round rookie playing only because he makes fewer mental errors than fourth-round rookie Casey Matthews.

Understandably, Juan Castillo is taking a lot of heat for the defense’s struggles. Only those within the Eagles organization truly know what kind of defensive coach he is. But you don’t have to be inside the organization to see that the system Castillo signed up to coordinate is not right for this team.

4. The Vaunted Secondary
Imagine buying a 65-inch plasma TV, but instead of watching Blue Rays or DVDs on it, you watch video cassettes. That’s sort of what the Eagles are doing with Nnamdi Asomugha. The ex-Raider was worth $25 million guaranteed because he’s the best outside press-man cover artist not named Darrelle Revis. But Asomugha has not been a press-corner in Philadelphia.

Greg Cosell, the executive producer of the NFL Matchup Show and one of the most respected analysts in the country, points out that Asomugha played outside press-man only 40 percent of the snaps through the first four weeks. The rest of the time he was in off-coverage, traditional zone or lined up over the slot (where he’s never regularly operated before). Consequently, Asomugha has been uncomfortable.
 
There are problems on the other side, as well. Asante Samuel is a classic off-coverage corner who needs to be able to see both the receiver and quarterback in order to be effective. Cosell adds that Samuel is also suited for a blitz-oriented scheme, where the quarterback is compelled to throw quickly, thus making routes easier to jump. In this Wide-9 scheme, Samuel has often had to play bump-and-run coverage, which he doesn’t have the physicality to do.

The Eagles may be sorting this snafu out. A few times against the Bills, they used Asomugha in man-to-man while everyone else played zone. But even if the corners are all utilized to their natural talents, there remains concern about the safeties.

Cosell, who can speak at length about the intricacies of Wide-9 run defense concepts, says a major issue has been Jarrad Page’s failures in run defense. Page was benched in the middle of the fourth quarter last week after several missed tackles.

5. The Redskins Matchup
With their bye, Washington has had an extra week to rest up and study Philadelphia’s myriad problems. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett should be licking his chops. The Redskins run one of the most aggressive (and effective) blitz schemes in the league. Outside ‘backers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan can feast on the Eagles offensive tackles, plus they have the athleticism to plausibly keep Vick in the pocket.

If Orakpo and Kerrigan are told to cut loose, don’t be surprised if strong safety LaRon Landry serves as a spy on Vick. Of course, let’s not get carried away with thinking these matchups spell doom for the Eagles. After all, Philly’s offense hung 52 points on Washington’s defense in Week 10 last year. (Philly’s D added seven more.)

On the other side of the ball, the Redskins’ zone-blocking scheme does not create the type of pounding downhill run game that’s ideal for attacking this Eagles defense.

But it does create passing lanes for tight ends. With the Eagles corners stifling the mediocre Redskins wideouts, don’t be surprised if Rex Grossman throws 15-20 balls to Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. It’s a good place to attack given that the Eagles linebackers have also struggled in coverage.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 6 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:15 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Philadelphia Eagles

Posted by Andy Benoit



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:





Michael Vick wrote one of the greatest bounce back stories in the history of professional sports, giving the Eagles not just football’s fastest offense, but also its most entertaining.

Turns out, the 30-year-old Vick is a pied piper to young guns Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy (all of whom took a collective step forward in 2010).

Philly’s magic began to dissipate once teams realized that this defense was not far above average and that this offense could not read complex blitzes prior to the snap.




An improved front five could put the Eagles over the top in 2011. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo has moved to the defensive coordinator role (not a typo…the offensive line coach is now the defensive coordinator).

Filling Castillo’s old spot is longtime Colts assistant Howard Mudd, whom many believe is the best line coach in the industry. Mudd will simplify everything Philly’s offensive linemen do.

Whereas before they had a handful of different pass protection methods to learn, they’ll now have just one. Expect to see major improvements right away. Mudd was a big reason the Colts were able to survive with low-drafted and undrafted blockers for so many years.




1. Outside Linebacker
Ernie Sims is a great athlete who has no idea what he’s doing half the time. Opposing offenses love spotting him in coverage. Moise Fokou has good downhill attack speed, but he’s a fringe starter at best.

2. Safety
It would be wise to re-sign veteran leader Quintin Mikell. But if that doesn’t happen, the Eagles will likely need a more consistent replacement strong safety than Kurt Coleman. Also, keep in mind, free safety Nate Allen tore his ACL in December.

3. Cronerback
Everyone thinks Nnamdi Asomugha would be a great fit on this team. Asomugha, however, is a man-to-man specialist. Castillo will run a zone-based scheme. The Eagles would be wise to spend the money elsewhere. And while upgrades would be nice, the Eagles don’t necessarily have to spend at this spot to begin with. As much as Dmitri Patterson struggled down the stretch, the first-time starter also looked very good at times, playing with aggression and confidence early on.




There is a lot of pressure on Michael Vick in 2011. He is being asked to lead a team that many expect to contend for a title. If he answers the challenge, he’ll almost certainly be signed to a long-term mega contract that could make most of the financial woes left over from his dogfighting retribution disappear.

If he fails, he’ll still get a big contract somewhere, but the mega contract will never come. Assuming Philly’s defense is fine (and granted, that’s not a light assumption), Vick’s performance will determine this team’s fate.

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Posted on: February 2, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Eagles name Juan Castillo defensive coordinator

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Eagle’s long-lasting search for a defensive coordinator has finally come to a close. The team has tapped Juan Castillo to replace the fired Sean McDermott.

This is interesting because Castillo had been the offensive line coach. You don't often see coaches flip sides of the ball like this. The last time Castillo coached defense was 1994...at Kingsville High School in Texas.

Equally as interesting is that Howard Mudd is replacing Castillo as offensive line instructor. The venerated Colts O-line coach had retired (in part due to a bad back). As blocking goes, Mudd is lauded as one of the best young player development experts in the game.

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Posted on: August 8, 2010 4:11 pm
 

Howard Mudd returns to Colts...as a guest

Posted by Andy Benoit

After Indy’s Super Bowl loss, Bill Polian had some harsh comments for the offensive line. That was venerable assistant Howard Mudd’s offensive line that Polian was criticizing. Apparently, no hard feelings.

Mudd, who is in his first year of retirement, was invited to be a guest at the Colts practice on Friday. He sat alongside Polian in a golf cart. Ironically, just days earlier, Mudd was seen wearing Saints apparel. Turns out, he was serving as a consultant to a friend on the Saints staff.

Phil Wilson of the Indy Star offers this:

(Mudd) wearing Saints stuff, though, it sure seemed like a bit of a shot. But it's our understanding Polian invited Mudd back to Colts camp, so perhaps this was evidence whatever differences they have are behind them.

Mudd wore an old Colts T-shirt and blue shorts. He admitted having some anxiety coming back, especially just a few days after hanging out with the Saints. But his former players and team personnel received him well.

As the veteran of more than three decades of NFL coaching started speaking, Colts center Jeff Saturday sped by in a golf cart and couldn't resist some good-natured ribbing at his old line coach.

"He loves the attention!" Saturday shouted. "Feed the ego! Feed it! Feed it!"

"What did he say?" a smiling Mudd said.

When told, the old-school coach laughed.

Asked how good it felt to be back, the 68-year-old Mudd said, "It's great. Not good, but great."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com