If any of you reading this are familiar with my work, you know that I simply love Howard Mudd. I have read his book— The View From The Offensive Line— have watched multiple coaching clinics from him on YouTube, and listened to just about every podcast or radio appearance that has featured him. With all that in mind, you can imagine how excited I was to see him return to the Colts to help this excellent offensive line this past offseason (before retiring again just before the season started).
The most fascinating thing about Howard Mudd has always been his offensive line philosophy when it comes to pass blocking. While most OL Coaches believe in a good mixture of sets from angle sets, jump sets, and vertical sets, Mudd sees things differently. He is a firm believer that the angle set can block just about any type of pass rush and that is almost exclusively what he teaches his linemen to use.
One way that Mudd communicated this point to the public was on his website— HowardMudd.com— in a piece titled A Better Way to Block Von Miller. In this quick piece, Mudd discussed his frustration with the vertical set and why it is ineffective against the talented and athletic pass rushers of today’s NFL.
Time and space is the pass rusher’s friend and the blocker’s enemy. But the vertical set concedes both to the defense. Why would you give players like Miller and Ware so much room to operate? All you’re doing is giving them time to get a head of steam and a large area in which to apply moves that make life miserable for the quarterback.
While Mudd compliments how important the Broncos’ duo of Von Miller and Demracus Ware were to that Broncos Super Bowl run, he also discusses his disgust for the vertical set and how it makes life easier for elite pass rushers. He then jumps into his viewpoint on blocking players like this and talks about aggressive angle sets and how it can work against players like Miller or Ware.
I have long advocated an aggressive pass set that closes the ground between the o-lineman and the pass rusher. The blocker engages more quickly at a point closer to the line of scrimmage, taking the advantage of time and space away from the defense. By engaging the defensive end sooner, the blocker has a better chance to neutralize and control the rusher. The aggressive set also gives the o-lineman the better opportunity to use his natural levers to block with better technique to stay with his man.
The reason why I bring all this up today is that the Colts strictly use this set due to the teachings of Mudd in the offseason and Colts Offensive Line Coach Chris Strausser and his own preferences. I thought this article was interesting and useful because the Colts actually played the Broncos last season and lined up across from Von Miller while using this set.
While Miller did have a decent game against the Colts (he finished with 1.5 sacks, but was quiet for most of the afternoon), I think it was a good piece of tape to analyze for the aggressive set because Miller is still an elite player in this league. For today’s article, I did a quick five minute breakdown on my favorite pass block rep from Colts Left Tackle Anthony Castonzo from last season and discuss why this aggressive set style is effective for the Colts.