“Meet the Coaches” Part Five will take a look at the coaches in charge of the group responsible for protecting the quarterback and opening holes for the running backs – the offensive line.
John Matsko – Offensive Line
PLAYING AND PERSONAL
Matsko played fullback at Kent State and lettered three years from 1970-72. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business education in 1973 and later earned a master’s degree in education from Miami (Ohio) in 1976.
Matsko worked as a graduate assistant at Miami (Ohio) from 1974-75 and returned as offensive line coach in 1977 after being the head coach at Danbury High School in Lakeside-Marblehead, Ohio, in 1976.
He served as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at North Carolina from 1978-84 prior to stops for one year each as offensive line coach at Navy in 1985 and Arizona in 1986. He joined Southern California as offensive line coach in 1987 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1989 for his final three seasons with the Trojans.
Matsko began his NFL coaching career as offensive line coach of the Phoenix Cardinals in 1992 and served in that capacity for two seasons. In 1993, the offensive front opened holes for the Cardinals to have their first 1,000-yard rusher since 1985. He then moved to New Orleans in 1994 and coached three seasons with the Saints. Under Matsko’s tutelage, tackle Willie Roaf earned three Pro Bowl selections, and the Saints rated seventh in the league for fewest sacks allowed in 1994 and 1995 and third in 1996.
In 1997-98, Matsko assumed the same role with the New York Giants, where they improved both their pass protection and run blocking. The Giants allowed 24 fewer sacks and jumped from 19th to seventh in the NFL in rushing in 1997 compared to 1996.
He served as the offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams from 1999-2005. With Matsko presiding over the offensive line for one of the most dynamic offenses in NFL history, the Rams led the league in total offense for three consecutive years from 1999-2001, including a record 5,232 yards in 2000, and won Super Bowl XXXIV. He played an instrumental role in the development of two Pro Bowlers – tackle Orlando Pace and guard Adam Timmerman.
Matsko spent two seasons as the offensive line coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2006-07. Despite utilizing five different starting combinations due to injuries in 2006, the offensive line paved the way for the Chiefs to place ninth in the NFL in rushing and compile a team-record 11 100-yard rushing games. Under Matsko’s guidance, guards Will Shields and Brian Waters earned Pro Bowl honors.
From 2008-10, Matsko helped the Ravens rank in the top five in the NFL in rushing in two of his three seasons, finishing fourth in 2008 and fifth in 2009. He mentored tackle Michael Oher, who made the NFL’s all-rookie team in 2009, and in 2008 the team permitted only 33 sacks, the second fewest in team history, while featuring the league’s youngest offensive line.
He joined the Panther in 2011, and in his first season as the offensive line coach, Matsko led a unit that helped Carolina total more than 100 yards rushing in a franchise-record 14 consecutive games en route to accumulating 2,408 yards on the ground, the third-highest total in team history.
The Panthers set team records with an average of 5.41 yards per carry and 139 rushing first downs and became the first team in NFL history to feature three 700-yard rushers in running back DeAngelo Williams (836), running back Jonathan Stewart (761) and quarterback Cam Newton (706). Under Matsko, center Ryan Kalil was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl and first as a starter and earned second-team All-Pro honors.
Last season, despite losing Pro Bowler Kalil after five games and starting eight different combinations, the offensive line helped the Panthers gain 5,771 yards and produce 328 first downs, the second-highest marks in team history. Guard Amini Silatolu, a second-round draft choice from Division II Midwestern State, started 15 games and earned All-Rookie honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America.
Matsko will be in his third year as offensive line coach in 2013.
Fullback: Kent State 1970-72. College coach: Miami (Ohio) 1974-75, 1977, North Carolina 1978-84, Navy 1985, Arizona 1986, Southern California 1987-91. Pro coach: Phoenix Cardinals 1992-93, New Orleans Saints 1994-96, New York Giants 1997-98, St. Louis Rams 1999-2005, Kansas City Chiefs 2006-07, Baltimore Ravens 2008-10, joined Panthers in 2011.
Ray Brown – Assistant Offensive Line
PLAYING AND PERSONAL
Originally an eighth-round draft choice (201st overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1986, Brown played in 265 games with 202 starts at guard and tackle for four different franchises – St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions.
Brown was a member of the Redskins’ Super Bowl XXVI championship team and earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors with the 49ers in 2001. He became the oldest player to ever start an NFL postseason game when he opened at right guard for the Redskins against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2005 NFC Divisional Playoff at the age of 43 years and 336 days.
An All-Southland Conference selection at Arkansas State, Brown lined up on the offensive line and at tight end for the Indians. As a senior in 1985, he became the first player in conference history to be named all-conference at two different positions in the same season, garnering first-team recognition at tackle and second-team accolades at tight end. Brown began his college career at Memphis State before transferring to Arkansas State.
Brown began his coaching during the second half of the 2006 season as a special assistant on the Washington Redskins’ staff, assisting with the offensive line.
He served as the Buffalo Bills’ assistant offensive line coach for two seasons from 2008-09. In each of his years with the Bills, the offensive line opened holes for 1,000-yard rushers, and Brown helped tackle Jason Peters make the Pro Bowl in 2008.
Brown spent 2010 as assistant offensive line coach with the San Francisco 49ers. While with San Francisco, he relied on his extensive background and knowledge to help integrate first-round draft picks Anthony Davis at tackle and Mike Iupati at guard into the starting lineup.
Brown joined the Panthers in 2011 and in his first year on the staff, the offensive line helped set team records with an average of 5.41 yards per carry and 139 rushing first downs and opened holes for the Panthers to become the first team in NFL history to have three players with 700 or more yards rushing in the same season: running back DeAngelo Williams (836), running back Jonathan Stewart (761) and quarterback Cam Newton (706). Kalil was named to the Pro Bowl and earned second-team All-Pro honors.
Brown helped the Panthers offensive line overcome instability in 2012 as only two starters, tackles Jordan Gross and Bell, remained from the original group that began the season. Despite injuries throughout the season, including the loss of Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil after five games, the Panthers gained 5,771 total net yards and produced 328 first downs, the second-highest marks in team history.
With 20 years of experience as an NFL player, Brown’s tutelage has been instrumental in the development of young Panthers linemen Byron Bell and Amini Silatolu. Bell, an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011, started 27 games at tackle or guard in his first two seasons, and Silatolu, a second-round draft choice from Division II Midwestern State in 2012, started 15 games at guard in his first season and earned all-rookie honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America.
Brown is in his third season with Carolina in 2013 as assistant offensive line coach.
NEXT: Wide Receiver Coaches