INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich announced today that Howard Mudd, who returned to the Colts’ coaching staff earlier this year as a senior offensive assistant coach, has decided to step down from his position.
“He has decided to step down on his own terms,” Reich said. “Just within the last week or so, he had mentioned to me he had just kind of thought that his time was coming, and great on your own terms to be able to do that. And he did his job, with what we asked him to do. He was ready to step down and move on, so we thank him for his contribution."
After a legendary career spanning more than four decades as both a player and a coach, Mudd retired from the NFL after spending the 2012 season as an assistant on the Philadelphia Eagles’ staff.
But earlier this year, after a lengthy phone conversation with Reich, who was vetting the possibility of hiring Mudd’s friend, Chris Strausser, to be the team’s new offensive line coach, the Colts decided to offer Mudd the opportunity to return to their staff as a senior offensive assistant. He officially returned Feb. 7, reuniting with Reich, with whom he had coached on the Indy staff from 2006 to 2009.
"For me that was unbelievable, because much of what I’ve learned in the run game and in the protection world is from my first time here with Howard," Reich said. "So I was able to kind of talk him out of retirement to come and help us make a transition."
Mudd spent the past six-plus months helping Strausser and new assistant offensive line coach, Klayton Adams, get the Colts’ offensive line ready for the 2019 season. Indy in 2019 returns all five staters from last year’s line — left tackle Anthony Castonzo, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith — that allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL (18).
Reich said there was never a set timeline for Mudd's most recent coaching position in Indy, but is pleased with the progress made up front heading into the season.
"It was just kind of, ‘Hey, come on back, help us out. Make sure it fits what your expectations (are) and how you see it at this point of your career and life," Reich said of Mudd. "And one thing about Howard is he was all-in; he was tremendous in every way. Had a lot of energy, passion, a lot of knowledge — a lot of experience in those meetings. It was a lot fun for our guys, especially our younger guys, to get a chance to rub shoulders with Howard."
By many standards, Mudd certainly merits consideration for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, both as a player and as an assistant coach.
Mudd was a ninth-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1964 NFL Draft, and quickly turned into one of the best offensive linemen of his era. A member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s — and a member of the 49ers All-Golden Era Team (1946-70) — Mudd was a three-time Pro Bowl starter (1966-68) and was named First Team All-Pro in 1968. Mudd also played for the Chicago Bears from 1969-71.
After an eight-year playing career, Mudd entered the coaching ranks as an offensive line coach at the University of California in 1972, spending two years at the school. He got hired onto the staff of the San Diego Chargers in 1974, sparking a decades-long career as one of the greatest offensive line coaches in NFL history.
Mudd was on the staff of the Chargers (1974-76), 49ers (1977), Seattle Seahawks (1978-82; 1993-97), Cleveland Browns (1983-88), Kansas City Chiefs (1989-92) and Eagles (2011-12), but he’s perhaps best known for his work with the Colts’ offensive line from 1998 through 2009.
During that span, Mudd was a member of the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI championship team, and he played a huge role in ensuring the protection of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, who was one of the least-sacked quarterbacks in the league during Mudd’s tenure as Indy’s offensive line coach.