Two names you may not recognize are the biggest losses the Colts have suffered this offseason.


Howard Mudd

OLine coach Howard Mudd and O Coordinator Tom Moore have retired. While neither has told the press why they picked this time to retire, the cause may be the change in the retirement program discussed a few weeks ago in this column.

Mudd is the best OLine coach in the league. He has been responsible for more new concepts in pass protection and run blocking than the rest of the league combined. The way you can see how talented a line coach is shows best as he incorporates new players. In the Mudd era the Colts have reworked the line several times. In just the last couple of seasons, Mudd has been able to replace all pro players at LT and guard with very little change in productivity of the O. Two seasons ago, Mudd had to bring rookie Tony Ugoh in to play LT. I thought that it would hurt QB Payton Manning’s numbers but Ugoh fit in perfectly and the Colts moved on like nothing had changed. When perenial all pro C Jeff Saturday went down with an injury, Mudd filled the spot of his O line signal caller with

In 08, starting RG FA Jake Scott signed with the Titans. Charlie Johnson was expected to fill in for Scott but when LG Ryan Lilja was unable to go with a knee, Johnson had to move to LG. Again Mudd plugged in a rookie at RG, Mike Pollak a converted C, with no fall in productivity. Mudd who is 67 had 35 years of coaching experience that followed an all pro career as a player.

Moore, 70, has created one of the consistently best and most innovative offenses in league history. He has molded the O to take maximum advantage of all the abilities that QB Manning brings to the team. The thing that continues to confound D coordinators around the league is that is always changing. When the running game is not working, Moore finds ways to get the RBs into the game as pass receivers. No matter what happens or who is injured, Moore has found a way to produce enough to outscore an opponent.

That is a problem that the new OC will have to overcome as well. While the Colts O has been among the top in the league, the D has been very inconsistent. When all pro SS Bob Sanders is not in the lineup, the D gives up a lot of points. Moore has been able to adjust the play calling and O game plan to overcome those D deficiencies. His 30+ years of coaching experience will be missed by the Colts.

New Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell will have very big holes on his coaching staff to fill. It would be hard enough for an experienced HC to replace the O coordinator and OL coach, but it will be twice as hard for Caldwell in his first year as HC. But the Colts are the Colts. That means that they will find a way. When you have a guy like Payton Manning under center, the job becomes a lot easier.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

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