Colts’ O-line ‘fixed?’ Howard Mudd offers clarification

Ryan Kelly

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As it turns out, the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line might not be as “fixed’’ as owner Jim Irsay insisted last week.

Says who? Says the source of those “fixed’’ comments.

That would be former long-time Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd.

During a Wednesday appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Mudd clarified his assessment of the Colts’ offensive line, and they fell short of aligning themselves with Irsay’s version. He offered his views to his former boss last August when they were in Canton, Ohio for the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy.

Mudd was somewhat taken aback when Irsay shared those comments with approximately 2,000 season ticket holders at a Town Hall meeting last week.

The money quote from Irsay: “I’m telling you guys, the offensive line is fixed because Howard Mudd told me it’s fixed. If Howard Mudd tells you it’s fixed, it’s fixed.’’

Initially, Mudd noted Irsay’s recollection of their conversation has gotten “a little bit haywire and sideways.’’

“I saw (Irsay) and said, ‘I really like the beginning of what you have there (with) the young guys that you’ve brought in,’’ Mudd told Sirius XM NFL Radio. “He said I said they fixed it. Well, they’re in the process of getting it fixed because they’ve got some guys who I would have liked to have coached.’’

Last year’s draft added center Ryan Kelly, guard/tackle Joe Haeg and tackle Le’Raven Clark to a mix that already featured left tackle Anthony Castonzo and left guard Jack Newhort. Mudd is especially high on Haeg and Kelly.

Haeg reminds Mudd of former standout Colts guard Jack Scott “except he’s even more versatile than that.’’

Haeg became the first rookie since New Orleans’ Kyle Turley in 1998 to start at three different positions. Kelly was one of 11 rookies to start all 16 games.

“If they don’t get hurt and stay together and all that kind of stuff, I think the physical stuff is there,’’ Mudd said of the Colts’ offensive line personnel. “Two of those guys – Kelly and Haeg – they’ve demonstrated the mental (toughness) to go out there and scrap and not give and be determined to get the job done.

“Those are interesting characteristics to have.’’

The development of the offensive line has been an on-going project for the Colts since Luck’s arrival in 2012. He’s played behind 35 different starting combinations in his 70 regular-season starts, and dealt with constant abuse in the pocket. Luck has been sacked 156 times in those 70 games and the Colts have allowed a league-high 578 QB hits since ’12.

Luck has missed 10 games the last two seasons and is in the midst of rehabilitation after undergoing January surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He missed the team’s offseason work and has yet to start throwing.

“For sure they’ve got to keep No. 12 healthy,’’ Mudd said.