The Mudd-Washburn connection

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Even though he was retired, Howard Mudd spent last preseason as a consultant for the Saints. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Much of the discussion this week has focused on the Eagles' decision to promote Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator.

And rightfully so. It was an unconventional decision by Andy Reid that caught everyone off-guard.

But the other aspect of the coaching shake-up is the addition of Howard Mudd. Why would a guy who turns 69 next month and reportedly has grandchildren in Seattle want to set up in a different city and unretire after just one year off?

I touched on this right after the moves were made, and while money always plays a role somewhere, there are a couple other factors that were likely at play.

One would be that Mudd just has the itch to coach again. It sounds simple, but there's actually some evidence to this. Even last year, when he was retired, Mudd served as a special preseason consultant to the New Orleans Saints.

He coached in the league for 36 years but couldn't' even stay away from it completely for a single season. Last year, he told The Sporting News what he would miss about coaching.

"The part that makes it difficult is the feeling you have after victories," Mudd said. "I've been saying this for three or four years: How am I going to replace that? Victories are really, really hard to get, and we've had a lot of them."

Another aspect of his decision has to do with Mudd's relationship with new defensive line coach Jim Washburn. An NFL Films piece (linked below) described them as "best friends" chronicled their 17-day trip to Africa a couple years ago.

Mudd and Washburn faced off twice each season when the Titans faced the Colts. And check out what Washburn had to say about Mudd in an interview with ESPN.com last year.

"Name me one head coach in this league that’s as good a coach as Howard Mudd. You know what the answer is? Well, there are none of them. That’s it. There is not one coach in this league as good as Howard Mudd, not one head coach that’s near as good as Howard Mudd. Not close. …

"He thought outside the box before outside the box was a saying. He’s a creative guy. He could have gone to law school, he could have been a doctor. He thought about both of them coming out of college. He’s not your typical person."

The same words continue to come up when you hear people talk about Mudd and Washburn: discipline, toughness, fundamentals. In the NFL Films piece, Washburn admitted he kept score of wins and losses between him and Mudd.

Let's hope that there's a training camp because the battles upfront are going to be fun to watch. And the linemen on both sides of the ball better have thick skin. It doesn't sound like the old-school approaches of Washburn and Mudd take hurt feelings int account.

And finally, make sure you watch this video that does a tremendous job of capturing Mudd and Washburn's friendship.

In case you missed it from Friday, I did a What they're saying piece on Castillo.


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