The Washington Commanders fired offensive line coach John Matsko on Tuesday, a source with knowledge of the situation said — parting ways with an assistant who had been part of Ron Rivera‘s staff throughout his head coaching career.
Matsko‘s firing — and the timing of it — comes as a major surprise as just a day earlier, the Commanders spent the first day of free agency remaking the offensive line by signing center Nick Gates and tackle Andrew Wylie. The shakeup also happened much later in the offseason, with the Commanders seemingly finalizing their coaching staff weeks earlier when they hired offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and a slew of new assistants.
But now the Commanders have one more vacancy on Rivera‘s staff, and a source said that it was still to be determined how the team plans to fill Matsko‘s spot. Assistant offensive line coach Travelle Wharton remains under contract, while tight ends coach Juan Castillo has also been a three-time offensive line coach. Castillo joined Washington’s staff last offseason, being hired to coach tight ends for the first time in 25 years.
Matsko, 72, had reportedly been contemplating retirement, but he has been involved in Washington’s offseason. He was in attendance for Bieniemy’s opening press conference last month and traveled to the NFL scouting combine. A tough no-nonsense coach, Matsko was credited for his direct coaching style and his ability to develop offensive linemen no matter the circumstance. But Washington’s offensive line regressed in a big way last season as the group dealt with injuries and struggled to replace former starters Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers, who were no longer on the team.
Matsko had been with Rivera since 2011 when Rivera was hired as coach of the Carolina Panthers. He joined Rivera again in 2020 when hired by Washington.