Commanders' Jonathan Allen on DL coach change: 'It's a great game but a terrible business'

The Washington Commanders made an abrupt coaching change on Tuesday. Two weeks into training camp and head coach Ron Rivera announced defensive line coach Sam Mills III was relieved of his duties.

The Commanders defensive line is widely considered the team’s strongest unit as four first-round picks lead the way in defensive ends Montez Sweat and Chase Young and defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne.

Allen reacted to Mills’ firing.

“At the end of the day it’s sad,” Allen said, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. “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.”

The timing of Mills’ firing is peculiar. Concerns over the defensive line emerged after a disappointing season last year. Young and Sweat were unable to duplicate their success in 2020. Allen and Payne were more consistent. But the issues along the unit boiled over during a Sunday Night Football game in Week 16, when Allen and Payne had a heated confrontation on the sidelines.

The inconsistency of Young and Sweat was more concerning and brought about questions entering this year’s training camp. Young is on the PUP list recovering from a torn ACL. The focal point has been about their two edge rushers getting back on track.

Mills reportedly lost the ears of the defensive line. Ultimately, Rivera made the call to make a change.

Jeff Zgonina takes over for Mills. Recently retired former Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan has been hanging around helping the defensive line during training camp. The Commanders have also had Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend Warren Sapp to check in and help out.


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