The Washington Commanders fired defensive line coach Sam Mills III on Tuesday morning, Coach Ron Rivera announced. The timing was surprising — Rivera has never fired a coach during training camp — and Rivera said he made the decision not because of the defensive line’s underperformance last season, but because of “philosophical differences,” though he declined to offer specifics.
Mills spent the first 15 years of his career with the Carolina Panthers and worked on Rivera’s staff in Carolina from 2011 through 2019. Washington hired him in January 2020.
Jeff Zgonina, the assistant defensive line coach, was promoted to replace Mills. Zgonina played for seven teams across 17 seasons in the NFL. He retired after the 2009 season, started his coaching career in 2013 and served as the defensive line coach in San Francisco in 2017 and 2018.
“At the end of the day, it’s sad,” defensive tackle Jon Allen said. “I think me and Coach Sam were getting along really well. We were really making some progress as a defensive unit. It’s the NFL. People just got to remember it’s a great game but a terrible business.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.