The Howard Mudd Impact: Colts’ Center Jeff Saturday Guarantees Mudd Will Significantly Improve Eagles’ Offensive Line

By Bryn Swartz

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding new offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who joined the Eagles last week in place of Juan Castillo.

Mudd played seven seasons as an offensive lineman and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection before retiring due to a neck injury.

Mudd has been in the NFL as a coach since 1974, minus a one-year retirement in 2009, and is now working with his seventh different NFL team: San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks (twice), Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, and now the Philadelphia Eagles.

In 1999, his second year with the Indianapolis Colts, he met center Jeff Saturday, an undrafted street free agent from the University of North Carolina.

Saturday says he was cut by the Baltimore Ravens in 1998 but was signed by the Indianapolis Colts in January of 1999. He says Mudd thought he was a long snapper at first, but he still treated Saturday like a first-round pick.

Since 1999, Saturday has been selected to represent the AFC in five Pro Bowls. He is widely considered one of the best centers in the National Football League.

And Jeff Saturday credits his entire career to Mudd.

Saturday recently spoke to Mudd on the phone, where he discovered that the Eagles allowed 50 sacks in 2010.

“I just started laughing,” the five-time Pro Bowl center said. “Because the year before Howard came to the Colts, it was a couple years before I got here, we gave up like 60 sacks (actually 62). And then his first year in Indianapolis, we gave up about 20 (22). I fully expect the same thing to happen with the Eagles this year.

“He’ll make an immediate impact on that line. He specializes in solving problems. That’s what he likes to do. Face a challenge and find a way to solve it. I guarantee you one thing – the Eagles won’t give 50 sacks next year.”

Understandably, the Colts do have Peyton Manning, who is one of the best (in history) at avoiding sacks, but the presence of a veteran leader like Howard Mudd will be tremendous.

From 1998 to 2009, the Indianapolis Colts allowed 227 sacks, an average of 19 per season. The next best team in the NFL, the Titans, allowed 337 sacks—more than 100 more than the Colts. The Eagles allowed 487 sacks, an average of 40 per season.

Expect Mudd to make an immediate impact on the Eagles.

They won’t allow as few as 20 sacks next season, but it won’t be more than 30 or 35. That would be one fewer sack per game.

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