OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens fired veteran offensive line coach John Matsko during a meeting Wednesday afternoon with coach John Harbaugh, an unexpected development.
Matsko may not be out of work for long.
He’s slated to interview with the Carolina Panthers today.
The Ravens will likely promote assistant offensive line coach Andy Moeller to replace Matsko.
Matsko, who has previously coached standout blockers Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Kyle Turley and Brian Waters, coached in Baltimore for the past three seasons. He has previous stints with the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams as well as USC.
However, the Ravens allowed 40 sacks during the regular season and also struggled to protect quarterback Joe Flacco in the playoffs. Flacco was sacked nine times during two playoff games, including five sacks in a 31-24 AFC divisional playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The running game plummeted to 14th in the NFL in rushing, rushing for just 114.4 yards per game and gaining just 3.8 yards per carry.
Moeller has been with the Ravens for three seasons.
He was arrested for driving under the influence twice last year with one case dismissed in Carroll County. He’s still facing a DUI case in Baltimore County and is scheduled to appear in Towson District Court on April 11.
His lawyer, Andrew Alperstein, has said that Moeeler will plead not guilty.
Moeller was pulled over for speeding 70 mph in 55 mph zone on Sept. 18 at nearly 1 a.m. in Baltimore County.
He has been charged with seven traffic offenses, including DUI, negligent driving and speeding.
On May 14 in Carroll County, Moeller was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence and negligent driving.
He received a judgment of acquittal on Aug. 25 in Carroll County district court after it was determined that he wasn’t driving the car and was parked, according to court records.
When Moeller was coaching at the University of Michigan, he was arrested on Dec. 8, 2007 for refusing to take a breathalyzer exam following a traffic incident. Moeller was taken to the hospital where blood was drawn.
Moeller was also charged with failing to stop his car following an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol.
The DUI was reduced to driving while visibly impaired.
He was sentenced to probation and assigned to alcohol counseling and to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, completing his probation sentence.
He also paid a $185 fine at the Ann Arbor district court in January of 2008.
Moeller was an All-Big Ten Conference linebacker at Michigan, where he previously coached the offensive line.
He attended the same high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., as Harbaugh.
SAUNDERS INTERVIEWS WITH RAIDERS: Ravens senior offensive assistant Al Saunders interviewed for the Oakland Raiders’ offensive coordinator vacancy and has emerged as a strong candidate to land the job.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson, a former Ravens quarterbacks coach, interviewed Saunders on Wednesday after being granted permission to talk with him.
"We’ll just have to see what happens," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, you never want to lose really good coaches. Al Saunders is a great coach, and he’s a great man, too."
Saunders is known as an upbeat, detail-oriented coach who has a thick playbook.
Saunders is a former San Diego Chargers head coach who has been an offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and associate head coach with the Washington Redskins.
"He’s tremendous, and he’s been huge for us, but you don’t want to deny guys opportunities, either," Harbaugh said. "So, we’ll just have to see where that goes."
Addressing conflicting reports about whether quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn is under consideration for the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator vacancy, Harbaugh said he hasn’t heard from any NFL teams inquiring about Zorn.
"I don’t have any information on that," Harbaugh said. "Nothing that I’m aware of other than the media reports that you’ve read."
REPLACING PAGANO: The Ravens plan to hire a secondary coach to replace Chuck Pagano after promoting him to defensive coordinator.
Defensive assistant Roy Anderson will continue to help out with the secondary.
"We’re going to find a great one," Harbaugh said. "We’ll find a great one out there. I will say this: Roy Anderson is a young coach, up and coming coach. We’ll figure out how we work that right now by adding a coach.
"We’re going to get the very best coach who fits us the best way we can, fits these guys the best way we can, but I want to say Roy is a tremendous young coach, going to be a big part of that."
HAPPY MATTISON: The Ravens are happy for Greg Mattison, the outgoing defensive coordinator who left to take the same position at the University of Michigan.
Mattison did so partially for family reasons. His daughter lives in Ann Arbor and is expecting a baby soon.
"We love Greg Mattison, and he had an opportunity to follow his family after his family has been following him all these years in his coaching profession, at this stage of his career, and go back to Michigan," Harbaugh said. "It’s an opportunity for him to change the pace a little bit, get back into college and be with his family a little bit more. So, we’re proud of what he did and we’re happy for him, and we kind of rejoiced in that the last couple days."
Cornerback Chris Carr passed on his best wishes to Mattison via an e-mail.
"I wish Matty the best of luck," Carr wrote. "We really enjoyed his stay. Him leaving was unexpected, but I am happy for him because he did what is best for his family."
STRONG ROOTS: Pagano goes back a long way with free safety Ed Reed, helping recruit him to the University of Miami out of Louisiana.
"My relationship with Ed Reed is pretty good," Pagano said. "I’ve known him since he was 17 years old when I dragged him into a biology lab and made sure all the Bunsen burners were off and talked him out of going to Tulane and coming to Miami."
Pagano said that Reed is definitely returning. Reed has been dealing with the disappearance of his younger brother and also had hip surgery last spring.
"Obviously, it’s been a tough year for a lot of reasons," Pagano said. "Ed is a strong, strong man, and he’s got a strong faith, and he’s got a strong family, and he’s got a strong family right here in Baltimore, and he’s got a ton of support. He’s just a warrior, and he’s a great leader. He’ll go down as one of the all-timers to ever play this game."
The team released a statement from Reed about Pagano.
"Chuck will do everything he can to make sure the defense is prepared for each practice and every game," Reed said. "The time and effort he puts in and what he will sacrifice will be more than a championship-caliber. I believe his best coaching quality is working with the other coaches and players around him. Just like Coach Mattison, Chuck will get input from everyone, and that will help him be the best coordinator he can be and us be the best defense we can be."
QUICK HITS: Ed Reed has opted out of the Pro Bowl citing family reasons. He’ll be replaced on the roster by the Tennessee Titans’ Michael Griffin…With several players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, including Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, Pagano expressed confidence that the scouting department will make sure the team is well-stocked with talent. "I know that we’re in great hands with everybody in this organization and with our personnel department," Pagano said. "They understand what it takes, and they understand what we need, and they will take great care of us." … Pagano and linebackers coach Dean Pees revealed that middle linebacker Ray Lewis only missed five plays all season, taking part in 1,111 snaps. "And we chewed him out when he came out for that, for missing five plays.," Pagano said. "You stay in this league and you play at the level that he’s played at for 15 years, because of your due diligence in the weight room in the offseason, watching tape and taking care of yourself. He’s taken great care of his body, and he understands that his body is his earning power and what’s made him. There is not a more passionate guy. He’s a great one."