Commanders’ Ron Rivera fires defensive line coach, citing ‘difference in philosophy’


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The Washington commanders fired Defensive line coach Sam Mills III is just days away from the start of training camp.

Ron Rivera, going into his third season Head coach at WashingtonHe announced on Tuesday that Mills had been relieved of his duties, telling reporters that Jeff Zgonina would take over as defensive line coach.

Washington football defensive line coach Sam Mills III during the New Orleans Saints game at FedEx Field on Oct. 10, 2021.

Washington football defensive line coach Sam Mills III during the New Orleans Saints game at FedEx Field on Oct. 10, 2021.
(John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“I made a change in the coaching staff,” Rivera told reporters Tuesday. ‘I have relieved Sam Mills of his duties. A vastly different philosophy. And we’ll go from there.”

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“Just a few observations,” Rivera added. “For me, I felt it was a change I needed to make. I felt there was a little bit of a difference in philosophy.”

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera watches his team practice at their training facility on August 5, 2022 in Ashburn, Virginia.

Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera watches his team practice on August 5, 2022 at their training facility in Ashburn, Virginia.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rivera told reporters that it was a decision he made without asking for input from any of the players. Rivera added that the move stems from the 2022 offseason and training camp and is less about the struggles of the defensive line heading into the 2021 season.

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Rivera and Mills have a long history of working together, with Mills spending from 2011 to 2019. Seasons in Carolina with Rivera. Mills joined the Commanders in January 2020.

Commanders coach Ron Rivera waves to fans as he arrives for practice Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Ashburn, Virginia.

Commanders coach Ron Rivera waves to fans as he arrives for practice Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Ashburn, Virginia.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Very difficult. I’ve known Sam for a long time and (he’s) a great football coach,” Rivera said of their relationship. According to NFL.com. “And I really appreciate everything he’s done. He helped us win the division the first year, and things got tough last year. I thought there were some things I wanted to change.”

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Rivera told reporters that he had never made a change in his coaching staff during training camp, and the players were told before practice, according to ESPN.

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“It’s sad,” Washington defensive tackle John Allen said. “Me and Coach Sam were getting along well, we were really making some progress as a defensive unit. This is the NFL; people have to remember it’s a great game but a terrible business.”

Washington opens the preseason on August 13 against the Carolina Panthers.



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