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Meet Jeff Zgonina, New Commanders DL Coach

Ron Rivera promoted Zgonina after relieving Sam Mills III on Tuesday.

It is quite rare to see a major coaching change this close to the preseason, but that is exactly what Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera made on Tuesday.

He told reporters that he relieved defensive line coach Sam Mills III of his duties and Jeff Zgonina will be taking over the role.

So that begs the question, who is Jeff Zgonina?

A seventh-round selection back in 1993, Zgonina spent 17 seasons in the NFL, including stops in seven different cities. After his playing career, he has coached a number of teams and was brought along to join the Washington staff in 2020.

It was shock to fans and the media when the news broke this morning. But was it shocking to Zgonina himself?

"I found out first thing this morning,” he said. “When I got in the building Coach [Rivera] called me in and told me that I was taking over and that was it."

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Although the promotion is good news for Zgonina, he does not view it as a drastic change.

“I woke up this morning, had no idea," Zgonina said. "I came out to practice. I'm the same person. Like I said earlier, I'm not changing. So I don't look at it as anything. I look at it as an opportunity to get all these men a championship. That's the goal and that's not gonna change."

Rivera has high expectations for Zgonina to lead this front seven that has been receiving a ton of hype on social media.

“Obviously, Jeff played the game and so he's got a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge that he does share with the players,” Rivera said. “And he'll continue to share with the players. He's got tremendous enthusiasm, so he'll continue to be that guy for them.”

The title is new, but the job is the same for Zgonina, who is attempting to lead this defensive line, highlighting by Chase Young and Jonathan Allen, to the promise land. The former Super Bowl champion knows what it takes to win and sees some of those same qualities in now-his unit.

"I think through the spring and through what camp we've been through, I think they've taken great strides,” Zgonina said. “They've developed, they're embracing the technique more and more every day and they're buying into it and they're performing at a very high level right now."

Zgonina and the defensive line will look to make an impression in the team's preseason opener Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Carolina Panthers.