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Commanders fire offensive line coach John Matsko

Commanders offensive line coach John Matsko stands on the sideline during a preseason game in 2022. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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Washington Commanders Coach Ron Rivera met with offensive line coach John Matsko on Tuesday and informed him the team would be moving in a different direction at the position, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The move comes nearly a week after assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy seemed to put the final touches on his new staff by filling its last three vacancies.

The timing of the decision is curious. Earlier in the offseason, four people with knowledge of the team’s plans said they believed Matsko might retire — or the Commanders might move in a different direction with his job once Bieniemy took over. Two weeks ago, at the NFL combine, the team used at least 19 of its 45 formal interviews on offensive linemen — a focal point of this offseason — and Matsko led many of those meetings. On Monday, the first day of legal tampering in free agency, the team agreed to deals with linemen Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates, according to multiple people familiar with the negotiations.

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Matsko, 72, has been the line coach for Rivera’s entire 12-year run as a head coach. He began his career as a graduate assistant at Ohio’s Miami University in 1974, and, after a stint coaching high school, he rose through the college ranks before breaking into the NFL with the Phoenix Cardinals in 1992. Matsko went on to coach the offensive line for eight NFL clubs and teamed up with Rivera on the Carolina Panthers in 2011 before joining him in Washington in 2020.

Assistant offensive line coach Travelle Wharton played for and coached under Matsko in Carolina before joining Washington in 2020. The team has not yet named a replacement for Matsko, who did not respond to a request for comment.