Slim­mer, shaven Tom­sula ready to lead de­fen­sive line

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

ASHBURN | Jim Tom­sula’s brief stint as coach of the San Fran­cisco 49ers in 2015 re­sulted him be­ing fired af­ter just one sea­son with a for­get­table 5-11 record. But dur­ing his time, Tom­sula was mem­o­rable for two rea­sons: He fol­lowed Jim Har­baugh and had a thick mus­tache.

When Tom­sula was hired as the Red­skins’ de­fen­sive line coach, he was, and is, miss­ing his iconic mus­tache.

“My wife said, ‘Look, man. You look old and scrag­gly — get that off,’” Tom­sula said. “Her and the daugh­ters. I said, ‘Okay, let me shave that off.’ She said, ‘By the way, you’ve been fat for 20 years. Lose some weight.’ So I got on a diet and shaved my mus­tache.

“I’m not dy­ing my hair though.” A slimmed-down Tom­sula is in Wash­ing­ton to make sure the Red­skins’ de­fen­sive line takes a much-needed step for­ward in 2017. The Red­skins fired their pre­vi­ous de­fen­sive line coach, Robb Akey, in Jan­uary and Tom­sula was hired in his place.

The group has a trio of new faces — first round pick Jonathan Allen, free agents Stacey McPhee and Ter­rell McClain — and younger play­ers with room to still sig­nif­i­cantly de­velop. Wash­ing­ton lost Chris Baker in free agency and cut Ricky Jean Fran­cois, two sta­ples of the Red­skins de­fen­sive line last year.

Through­out OTAs and veteran mini­camp, the Red­skins’ phi­los­o­phy was to ro­tate their de­fen­sive line­men and mix and match each group. As of now, there is no set depth chart, which is how Tom­sula likes it.

“I’m not a depth chart guy, never been a depth chart guy,” he said. “The depth chart will kind of take care of it­self. We don’t have shoul­der pads on so right now we’re see­ing how guys fit and how they move and things like that, and their as­sign­ments. They’re all kind of work­ing to­gether.”

The Red­skins’ mini­camp and OTAs are over, so the next time they meet will be for train­ing camp in Rich­mond, which starts July 27. There, Tom­sula will get a bet­ter gauge of who stands out and he’ll find the types of play­ers he is look­ing for (“We’re not into fat guys,” Tom­sula said.).

Tom­sula en­joys coach­ing the de­fen­sive line so much be­cause it re­quires a “dif­fer­ent kind of guy.”

“D-Line, you’ve got to be pretty smart to do what we’re ask­ing them to do,” Tom­sula said. “They’re a bit nuts, you know? It’s al­most like The Mup­pets in there, you know what I mean? I’m a Mup­pet, so there it is.”

In other words, Tom­sula fits right in. He’s loud and ex­pres­sive when coach­ing guys out on the field. Allen, who was drafted with the 17th pick out of Alabama, de­scribed him as a “crazy Ital­ian.”

“Coach Tom­sula, he just knows ball,” Allen said. “He knows game of foot­ball. And I love that he ac­tu­ally breaks it down and teaches it to us as op­posed to telling us to, ‘Do this, go run it and do what I say.’ He ac­tu­ally breaks it down and tells us why we do this. I’ve learned so much foot­ball in this, what, month.”

But Tom­sula is also more re­served in the meeting rooms when the team goes over film.

“He’s real calm and col­lec­tive,” de­fen­sive line­man Ziggy Hood said. “He ad­dresses you and re­ally tells you the truth is the main thing.”

Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den said Tom­sula un­der­stands the over­all de­fense and not just the de­fen­sive line, mak­ing it eas­ier for the coaches to bounce ideas off each other.

While his ex­pe­ri­ence might be help­ful, Tom­sula has found his call­ing coach­ing the de­fen­sive line.

“It’s one thing in this world, fig­ur­ing out what you love,” Tom­sula said. “That’s what I love.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Wash­ing­ton Red­skins de­fen­sive line coach Jim Tom­sula said he’s “never been a depth chart guy. The depth chart will take care of it­self.”

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