Sam Mills III is in his 14th season with Carolina and was named defensive line coach during the 2018 season.
Sam Mills III completed 14th season with Carolina and was named defensive line coach during the 2018 season after eight seasons as assistant defensive line coach. In 2019, Mills will add game management responsibilities, assisting head coach Ron Rivera with clock management, replay challenges and other situational football analysis.
Since 2012, no group of defensive linemen has produced more sacks than Carolina's 219.0. In addition to getting to the quarterback, the defensive line has been integral in the Panthers' ability to stop the run as Carolina's rush defense has ranked in the top six in the NFL in four of the past six seasons, and overall ranks third with 96.2 rushing yards allowed since 2012.
In 2017, the defensive line helped the Panthers record 50 sacks, ranking third in the NFL and fourth in franchise history. Julius Peppers and Mario Addison led the team with 11.0 sacks each, the fifth pair of teammates with double-digit sacks in a season in franchise history. The line also helped the Panthers rank third in the league in rushing defense, giving up just 88.1 rushing yards a game, the second fewest in franchise history.
In 2016, Mills helped tutor a defensive line that produced 35 of the team's 47 sacks, which ranked second in the NFL. Addison produced a then-career-high 9.5 sacks, and defensive tackles Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei combined for 10 sacks, tied for the fifth-most sacks by a pair of defensive tackles in the NFL.
In 2015, Mills assisted a unit that was a linchpin for a defense that helped the Panthers reach Super Bowl 50. Carolina's defensive line recorded 33.5 of the team's 44 sacks. The unit contributed to a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense, the fourth consecutive season the team fielded a top-10 defense, and also helped Carolina rank fourth in the NFL in rushing defense.
Short enjoyed a breakout performance, tying for eighth in the NFL with 11 sacks - which tied for the most among defensive tackles. Defensive end Kony Ealy contributed five sacks and tied an NFL record with three sacks in the Super Bowl. Charles Johnson, slowed by injuries in the middle of the season, returned for the postseason to notch three sacks for the NFC champions. In all, 10 different defensive linemen notched at least one sack for the Panthers.
In 2014, Mills assisted a defense that finished 10th in the NFL in total defense. The defensive line totaled 32.5 of the team's 40 sacks, including a team-leading 8.5 by Johnson and four by Ealy, who earned all-rookie honors. In Carolina's 27-16 NFC Wild Card victory over Arizona, the defensive line gathered four sacks to help limit the Cardinals to an NFL postseason record 78 total net yards.
During the 2013 season, Mills aided a unit that helped the Panthers lead the NFL with 60 sacks, including a team-record nine at Atlanta, and rank second in total defense, second in rushing defense and sixth in passing defense. Defensive end Greg Hardy tied a team record with 15 sacks to earn Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors, while Johnson posted 11 sacks to become the first player in team history with at least nine sacks in four consecutive seasons. Mills also played a key part in the development of all-rookie defensive tackles Lotulelei and Short.
In 2012, Mills worked with a line that was responsible for 37 of Carolina's 39 sacks. Johnson led the team with 12.5, and Hardy posted 11 as they became the first Panthers tandem to record double-digit sacks since 2002.
Prior to the 2011 season, Mills added assistant defensive line coach to his title along with serving as Carolina's defensive quality control coach, though he actually had been working with the defensive line since 2006. He assisted a line that accounted for 25.5 of the team's 31 sacks. Johnson paced the team with nine sacks, and young players received valuable experience as three rookies started games at defensive tackle.
After spending the 2005 season in a dual role as a strength and conditioning and defensive assistant, Mills was promoted to defensive quality control coach in 2006.
Mills is no stranger to the organization. His father, Sam, is the only Panthers player to have his number retired and is the only player inducted into the team's Hall of Honor. When his father played for the Panthers, Mills worked as a ball boy at training camp and later in the equipment room before joining the strength and conditioning program.
PLAYING AND PERSONAL
Mills followed in his father's footsteps by playing at Montclair (N.J.) State, where the elder Mills was an NCAA Division II All-America at linebacker. He started 20 games in two seasons at defensive back for the Red Hawks and totaled 71 tackles, two interceptions, 14 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Mills has been a member of the coaching staff for the East-West Shrine Game four times.
Defensive back: Monclair State 1997-1999. Pro coach: Joined Panthers in 2005.