Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Five Things To Know About Redskins Offensive Line Coach John Matsko


The Washington Redskins announced John Matsko as their offensive line coach on Wednesday.

Matsko, 68, played linebacker at Kent State for three seasons and has been coaching offensive lines at the collegiate and professional levels since 1977. He has coached for seven NFL teams, five of which have been in the NFC, before joining the Redskins, and he has a long history of coaching players to reach their full potential in addition to crafting dominant rushing attacks.

Below are five things Redskins fans should know about one of the newest additions to head coach Ron Rivera's staff.

1. He played with football greats Nick Saban, Gary Pinkel and Jack Lambert at Kent State.

The Kent State Golden Flashes football team only has one Mid-American Conference championship in its 100-year history. That came in 1972 -- the final year that Matsko was with the team -- when they finished the year 6-5-1 and beat Toledo in the season finale to claim the title and a berth to the Tangerine Bowl.

That team went down in school history, partly because it included football greats like Nick Saban, Gary Pinkel and Jack Lambert.

Saban and Lambert spearheaded a Kent State defense that allowed just 16 points per game, while Matsko and Pinkel contributed to the offense as a fullback and tight end, respectively. Matsko and Pinkel combined for 883 yards of offense and accounted for five touchdowns during the 1972 season. Matsko had 89 yards through the air to go with 317 on the ground and led the team with 4.9 yards per rush.

Matsko, Pinkel and Saban all went on to pursue coaching careers almost immediately after playing at Kent State. All three started out as assistants at Kent State before going their separate ways. Lambert was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and helped the team win four Super Bowls before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

While Matsko became the offensive line coach at the University of Miami, Pinkel and Saban became some of the best coaches in college football. Pinkel is the winningest coach in program history at two schools (Toledo and Missouri), while Saban has won six national championships, eight SEC championships and has an extensive collection of Coach of the Year honors.

2. He's been an offensive line coach for decades and had plenty of success.

Matsko began his NFL coaching career in 1992 with the Phoenix Cardinals, which later became the Arizona Cardinals, but his coaching career goes back further than that. At the college level, he coached the offensive line at Miami, North Carolina, Navy, Arizona and USC.

After combining that with his years in the NFL, Matsko has 46 years of coaching experience -- the most among the Redskins' new coaches.

Aside from the Cardinals, Matsko has coached for the Saints, Giants, Rams, Chiefs and Ravens before spending the last nine seasons with the Panthers. The Panthers have had one of the better rushing attacks of the past decade with 30 consecutive regular season games with at least 100 yards from Week 6 of 2014 to Week 3 of 2016.

Prior to the 2019 season, the Panthers ranked third in rushing (16,982 yards) and second in rushing touchdowns (138) since Matsko joined the team. Four of the top six seasons in rushing average has come with Matsko leading the offensive line, and in 2018, the team led the NFL with a 5.1 rushing average.

The Panthers were a top 10 rushing team in seven of Matsko's nine seasons. If the past is any indicator of what is to come, the Redskins should expect a turnaround on the ground.

3. He brings more Super Bowl experience.

The Redskins and owner Dan Snyder have made it clear they want to bring championship football back to the DMV. They backed that pledge up by hiring Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who have been to three Super Bowls and won two of them.

You can now add Matsko to that list.

Matsko's fourth NFL coaching stint came with the Rams from 1999-2005 when the team's historic offense -- nicknamed "The Greatest Show On Turf" -- dominated the league and won Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans.

While the team was known for its passing attack with quarterback Kurt Warner and receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, the Rams also had a suffocating ground game led by Marshall Faulk, who accounted for 1,381 of the team's 2,059 yards for the year. The offensive line also allowed only 33 sacks in that season.

In the six seasons that Matsko was with the Rams, the team advanced to the playoffs four times and had two Super Bowl appearances. He was also with the Panthers when they appeared in Super Bowl 50 after a 15-1 regular season finish in 2015.

4. He gets the best out of his offensive linemen.

There are a handful of trends that have followed Matsko during his career: those teams' rushing attacks are usually among the league's best, and offensive linemen have some of the best years playing under him.

In the 26 seasons Matsko has coached in the NFL, he has helped 10 players receive either All-Pro honors or Pro Bowl selections. Hall of Fame tackle Willie Roaf was his first Pro Bowl player when he was with the Saints. Roaf was selected three times during Matsko's tenure to go with two First-Team All-Pro honors.

Other players that Matsko coached include Hall of Fame tackle Orlando Pace, guard Adam Timmerman, Hall of Fame guard Will Shields and guard Trai Turner. Matt Kalil, who played under Matsko in 2017, had high praise for the coach, saying that Matsko "demands excellence in his offensive line room."

The Redskins already have a Pro Bowler in Brandon Scherff and also have talented young linemen like Wes Martin who got playing time in his rookie season. That combination should get Redskins fans excited about the position group.

5. Ron Rivera trusts him.

Matsko was one of Rivera's first hires when he became the Panthers' head coach in January of 2011. He brought Matsko in one day after he was fired by the Ravens, and Rivera kept him on the staff for the entirety of his tenure with Carolina.

Nine years later, Rivera became the Redskins' head coach, and it didn't take long for Rivera to recruit Matsko to his new staff.

Rivera is a coach that values teachers on his staff; he said so during his introductory press conference Jan. 2. Matsko proved his worth since first joining Rivera's staff with the Panthers, and Rivera responded by making him the Panthers' running game coordinator in 2016 and valuing his opinion when he offered his evaluation on 2019 second-round pick Dennis Daley.

Throughout his tenure with the Panthers, Rivera praised Matsko for his work on the offensive line and was always keen to give him recognition. He even gifted Matsko with a game ball after the Panthers did not allow a sack in a 36-21 win over the Ravens in Week 8 of the 2018 season. He even broke down the team after the victory.

When it comes to the type of coach Rivera wants on his new staff -- great teachers who have a history of success -- Matsko fits both categories.

Related Content