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Some doubt whether Howard Mudd really told Jim Irsay that the Colts’ offensive line is fixed

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Last week, Colts owner Jim Irsay made a bold statement at the team’s Town Hall meeting when he said that the offensive line is “fixed.”

His reasoning for making that claim was that former Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd told him the unit was fixed. “Let me say this: the offensive line is fixed,” he said. “I’m telling you guys, the offensive line is fixed. The reason I’ll tell you it’s fixed is because Howard Mudd told me it’s fixed. If Howard Mudd tells you it’s fixed, trust me, it’s fixed.”

Mudd is as respected of an offensive line coach as there is and coached over some great units during his tenure in Indianapolis, which spanned twelve years (1998-2009). For him to think the Colts’ offensive line is fixed is incredibly encouraging for Colts fans to hear, and his opinion certainly carries a lot of weight.

Some are questioning whether Mudd ever told Irsay that, however.

WTHR’s Bob Kravitz recently appeared on PFT Live and said that he reached out to Mudd as a follow-up to Irsay’s statement. Mudd’s response? “He said, ‘I don’t wanna talk about that,'” Kravitz said, according to PFT’s Mike Florio. “I think being a guy with an IQ over 15 in my case, I would venture to guess that they never had this conversation — ever.”

That entire statement is very interesting. First of all, you have Howard Mudd declining to confirm whether he said something that Jim Irsay has already publicly said that Mudd said (make sense?). So there really isn’t much reason whatsoever for Mudd to try to hide that statement, since Irsay already revealed it. It’s not uncommon for a person to have no comment on a situation, but again, Irsay already said it. That makes Mudd’s declining to comment very, very interesting. Secondly, you have a well-respected and well-connected reporter speculating that Jim Irsay and Howard Mudd never had the conversation that Irsay said they did - basically, Kravitz is saying that Irsay lied and made it up.

Kravitz went on to discuss the situation more.

“[Mudd] did say that he talked to [G.M.] Chris Ballard briefly and said, ‘I like the potential of some of your young guys, especially Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg,’” he added. “I don’t think he wanted to make Jim look bad by saying, ‘I never said that, I never talked to the guy.’ That was certainly my read on it. Why else would you say ‘I really don’t have a comment on that?’ I heard the comment. I don’t think they ever had that conversation, I think Jim was just being Jim.”

That’s quite a bit less encouraging for Colts fans if it turns out that the owner made it up. As for the truth, well, it seems we might not find out. To be fair, we probably should give Irsay the benefit of the doubt here until we hear otherwise, since he’s claiming that Mudd told him the line was fixed, and there’s been nothing that directly contradicts that yet. But there seems to be some doubt about that, in large part because of Mudd’s unwillingness to either confirm or deny it. Whether you find this as just stupid speculation or the absolute truth is up to you, but it can be noted that this questioning is out there without immediately discrediting or disbelieving Irsay.

At the same time, however, I find it very plausible that the conversation didn’t happen exactly like Irsay said it did. Mudd told Kravitz that he told Chris Ballard that he likes some of the young guys like Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg. So whether he told Jim Irsay the same thing or whether Ballard simply told Irsay that, I imagine that it would have been exciting for Irsay to hear. So that could have led Irsay to conclude (or at least share with fans) that Mudd thinks the unit is fixed, since he’s optimistic about the Colts’ young players up front to add to the mix. In this scenario, it wouldn’t be Irsay directly lying or making something up but rather him exaggerating something that Mudd said to make it sound like the line as a whole is fixed.

Look, like I said, we might not find out for sure either way what’s true or what’s not - so, as a result, I think we should give Irsay the benefit of the doubt until there’s a substantial claim that gives reason to think otherwise. But be aware that it’s very possible that Irsay’s recounting of the conversation might not be entirely accurate, if at all. Either way, we know one thing for sure: Jim Irsay is really optimistic about this offensive line. Hopefully that optimism proves warranted.