Cleveland Browns: Spread offenses hurt offensive linemen, too
By Joel W. Cade
ESPN Cleveland’s Toni Grossi recently wrote a review of the book A View from the O-Line by longtime line coach Howard Mudd. (My own review of Mudd’s book is forthcoming.) In his review, Grossi notes that Mudd, a 38-year coaching veteran, discounts the effects of the spread offense on young offensive linemen:
"People in the NFL, they say these guys don’t know how to play, it takes us two years to coach them. We’ve been doing that for 40 years, coaching an offensive lineman who didn’t know how to play when they got here. Go coach them. My brow is furrowed because it pisses me off to say it’s their fault. It ain’t their fault. It’s your fault. Go coach them."
So, according to Mudd, the solution to bad offensive line play is to “go coach them.” If it were only that easy.
As Matt Bowen of ESPN has pointed out in his 3-part series detailing the effects of the most recent CBA on player development, coaches no longer have the time to coach rookie offensive lineman in areas of technique, steps and hand placement. These nuances need to be taught and refined in an environment of live, full-contact drills. The CBA, however, restricts the amount of time a player has with a coach and the number of times teams can do full-contact drills. In the end, player development is what suffers.
But no respectable member of the Mushroom Society will use that as an excuse. Even Mudd understands that effects of the new CBA on coaching offensive lineman. He makes the point that blaming the new CBA is pointless as offensive linemen still have to go out and perform on Sundays regardless of preparation time.
No, the culprit is not the CBA. The real culprit is two-fold.
Next: Placing the blame