Is the Commanders next offensive line coach already on staff?
The Washington Commanders made a surprising move Tuesday, parting ways with offensive line coach John Matsko. Matsko, who some believed had been considering retirement, was recently at the NFL combine, leading meetings with offensive line prospects.
Coaching changes are usually made after the season but before free agency, so the timing was a bit of a surprise. Matsko had been with head coach Ron Rivera since 2011 and was his offensive line coach for all 12 of Rivera’s seasons as a head coach.
The most logical reason for the change is new offensive coordinator/assistant head coach Eric Bieniemy wants his own guy. Bieniemy will run a different offense than Scott Turner and wants someone who aligns with his offensive vision.
What if his own guy is already on Washington’s staff?
No, we aren’t talking about assistant offensive line coach Travelle Wharton. While Wharton is undoubtedly qualified for a promotion, he played and coached under Matsko. But Washington did send him to the Senior Bowl to coach one of the team’s offensive lines.
Wharton will likely remain on staff, but in what role?
The most intriguing name on the staff is tight ends coach Juan Castillo. Castillo made his name as an offensive line coach under Andy Reid. The 63-year-old Castillo joined Washington’s staff last offseason replacing Pete Hoener, who retired.
Castillo joined the NFL in 1995 as an offensive assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent two years in that role before he was promoted to tight ends coach in 1997. In 1998, Castillo was named offensive line coach, a position he held for the next 13 seasons. He was the offensive line coach before Philadelphia hired Reid in 1999, who retained him.
A look back at Castillo’s tenure with the Eagles and he coached some outstanding offensive linemen. We noted last year how Rivera was on Reid’s staff at the same time as Castillo. In 1999, Bieniemy spent his final NFL season with the Eagles.
In addition to his time with the Eagles, Castillo has also been an offensive line coach with the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears. He understands the type of offense Bieniemy wants to run.
Bieniemy could always be looking to bring in someone from the outside, but Castillo makes sense. Don’t discount Wharton, either. Washington is high on Wharton’s future as a coach.
Regardless, don’t expect the Commanders to let this drag out too long. A plan is likely already in place, and we should know more in the coming days.