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Don't blame the spread offense for terrible NFL offensive linemen

One longtime NFL coach says it's the coaches who are at fault for the poor state of blocking.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Howard Mudd, a 38-year NFL coaching veteran, says it's not the spread offense that's causing offensive linemen to struggle in the pros, which is a popular scapegoat among current coaches. Nope. Mudd says the real problem is the coaches, their NFL coaches.

"It pisses me off to say it’s their fault. It ain’t their fault. It’s your fault. Go coach them," Mudd said in an interview with ESPN radio in Cleveland.

He's kind of got a point. However, coaches don't get a lot of time with players because of the restrictions on practice time, something Mudd also pointed to in the interview.

Finding someone or something to blame is a lot easier than fixing the issue. Part of it is changing expectations. Teams tend to view draft picks as plug-and-play starters, but that's rarely the case with today's blockers. Second, there's the matter of training. We're already seeing more and more specialized offseason work outside the team facility for linemen, the kind of stuff that's been there for quarterbacks and receivers for a long time.

I used to think part of it was a matter of the NFL adapting to the changes in the game, which are happening at the high school and college levels. Easier said than done, thanks in part to the fact that the level of defensive play in the NFL is consistently better across the board for all 32 teams than it is at the other levels.

Adaptation in how coaches work with those players, training and patience with their development will ultimately lead to better offensive line play. But those are gradual things, not the kind of easy answers we've come to expect.

SEABASS THE GREAT

I can only imagine the reaction if Twitter had been around when the Raiders used a first-round pick on kicker Sebastian Janikowski (17th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft. But Seabass will end up having the last laugh. He'll probably be only one of two players from that year's draft to make the Hall of Fame (along with Brian Urlacher and some guy named Brady). Don Banks at SI has a profile of the Raiders kicker looking back at his career, which shows no signs of slowing down. Seabass also recounted the time he got chili cheese nachos thrown on him by a Chiefs fan.

(Fun fact No. 2 about the 2000 NFL Draft: The Raiders also drafted seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro punter Shane Lechler in the fifth-round that year, who was with the team through 2012).

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