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Howard Mudd never told Jim Irsay that the Colts’ offensive line was fixed, but says it’s getting there

Indianapolis Colts v Detroit Lions Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

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

His reasoning for making such a claim is what really resonated with fans, as he said that former offensive line coach Howard Mudd told him as much. “The reason I’ll tell you it’s fixed is because Howard Mudd told me it’s fixed,” Irsay explained. “If Howard Mudd tells you it’s fixed, trust me, it’s fixed.”

If Howard Mudd - one of the most respected offensive line coaches there is - thinks that about the Colts’ offensive line, then that inspires a lot of confidence, right? That would be correct... if he actually said it.

Earlier this week, WTHR’s Bob Kravitz appeared on PFT Live and revealed that Mudd didn’t want to comment about Irsay’s statement, leading Kravitz to surmise that Irsay made it up. We speculated that Irsay might have exaggerated or misinterpreted a prior conversation with Mudd (whether intentionally or not), and it seems like that’s what happened.

Yesterday, Mudd appeared on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Alex Marez and Bill Polian to discuss his alleged comments - which he says he never made, as he said that he never used the word “fixed” and added that the way his comments were conveyed was “a little bit haywire and sideways.”

Mudd said that the conversation with Irsay actually happened at the Hall of Fame induction last year for Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy. “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 said, according to Marvez. “He said that 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.”

One of the biggest reasons why Mudd thinks the Colts are on their way toward getting their offensive line fixed is because of those younger guys, particularly Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg (the latter of whom Mudd says “reminds me of Jake Scott except he’s even more versatile than that”). So he likes the guys they have - he’s just not calling it fixed yet.

“If they don’t get hurt and stay together and all that kind of stuff I think the physical stuff is there,” Mudd said. “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 they have.”

Mudd’s comments align with what the Colts and their fans already think about the offensive line: that though it’s not fixed yet, they have the pieces in place to perhaps get there. They’ve got some young players with potential, including Kelly, Haeg, and Le’Raven Clark, and they’ll be depending on current offensive line coach Joe Philbin to coach them up and help them reach that potential.

Of course, in saying all of this, here’s the other reality: Jim Irsay misled Colts fans at an event for season ticket holders by telling them that Howard Mudd said something that he really didn’t. In his excitement about the young offensive linemen, Irsay probably thinks that the unit is pretty closed to fixed and thus filtered that previous conversation with Mudd through those lenses. We’ve all exaggerated conversations like that before, but when it’s the owner of the team leading his own fans to believe something that isn’t true, that’s a problem. Irsay lied to his fanbase, whether intentionally or not, and that’s not a great look.

He’s optimistic and the Colts are on their way, but they’re not totally fixed yet. A lot of that depends greatly on how the young guys that Mudd is a fan of keep developing.