With the changing of the nameplate on an office door, the job description for an offensive lineman changed drastically. The result has been the kind of wholesale change you typically see when a new head coach takes over and sweeps out the perceived mistakes of his predecessor.
The unit that will run onto the field in St. Louis on Sept. 11 likely will have just one starter, left tackle Jason Peters, in the same position as last year's regular line. Mainstay Todd Herremans has moved from left guard to right tackle.
In between, there will be three newcomers: first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard, fellow rookie Jason Kelce at center, and previously undistinguished veteran Evan Mathis at left guard.
It is a phenomenal amount of change for a team that expects to win its division and compete for the Super Bowl. It is especially surprising from a team that was second in the NFL in total yards last season. The line was far from perfect, but it was part of an offense that was extremely productive.
Reid effectively is jettisoning not only players he has drafted and developed over several seasons, but the offensive line approach he has used here for 11 seasons. He is doing this in the name of Mudd.
But this raises some questions: If Mudd's approach in Indianapolis was so darn good, why didn't Reid adopt it years ago? He didn't have to hire Mudd himself. Copying good ideas and strategies is as much a part of coaching in the NFL as red challenge flags and laminated play charts. Reid's background as a player and coach was on the offensive line. And yet, for years, we've often wondered aloud why he fielded five massive, run-blocking types and asked them to do the complex and intricate ballet of pass-blocking.
We have been reminded that Mudd's way - agile, athletic linemen who attack rather than drop back into their sets in pass protection - worked to perfection for all those years in Indianapolis. That is encouraging, but how do you separate the linemen's performance from that of the quarterback they protected? How much did Peyton Manning's command of the game, recognition of defenses, and unerring instincts contribute to the low sack totals on Mudd's resumé?
In Mudd's previous stop, Seattle, his lines allowed an average of 41.4 sacks per year over five seasons. If you argue that's because the quarterbacks were Rick Mirer, John Friesz, and end-of-the-line Warren Moon, well, that is precisely the point. The line and the QB are linked.
Reid didn't sign Manning. And he got rid of Kevin Kolb, the QB he trained to read defenses and make quick decisions. Michael Vick, like Donovan McNabb, will hold onto the ball and try to extend plays with his mobility. That leads to big plays sometimes. It leads to sacks sometimes.
The Eagles tried to overhaul their line a couple of years ago, moving on from the Jon Runyan/Tra Thomas era by building around Peters and the Andrews brothers. That was an expensive disaster. This time, Reid is banking on Mudd to fix the problem.
It turns out that didn't mean getting the players on hand to play better. It meant the kind of radical change that takes time. The preseason is for developing and evaluating players, but you'd still like to see signs of a cohesive unit.
Instead, Kelce and Watkins have looked exactly like rookies who didn't have offseason camps and classroom time. In the past, they would have been destined for apprenticeships behind veteran starters. Now they will be the focus of every defensive coordinator looking to create havoc and get to Vick before he can perform his magic. Herremans may be fine at right tackle, but the move means more uncertainty in the middle.
No one doubts Mudd's credentials. No one denies that Watkins and Kelce have potential. Making such drastic changes in time to protect Vick during this season of sky-high expectations? It turns out the easy part wasn't so easy to understand after all.
Contact Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Sheridanscribe on Twitter. Read his blog, "Philabuster," at http://go.philly.com/philabuster. Read his past columns at http://go.philly.com/philsheridan