WASHINGTON — Jim Tomsula watched with intent as his prized pupil ran through a drill at Redskins rookie minicamp on Saturday. Then his hands came up.
“Stop, stop, stop!” Tomsula yelled and rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen halted. “Now I’ve got you thinking about 12 things … And I don’t want to do that.”
Allen and Tomsula will get to know each other well this season, the first for both men in Washington. Allen is the first-round draft pick from Alabama who wasn’t expected to fall to the Redskins at No. 17. Tomsula is the longtime San Francisco 49ers assistant whose one season as head coach turned into a disaster in 2015.
Tomsula took last year off before returning to the sidelines with Washington when he joined the staff in February. His primary duty: Improve a unit that has struggled to stop the run or generate much pressure in recent seasons. Helping Allen learn the ropes will go a long way toward that.
“[Tomsula’s] energy and his passion, his knowledge just knocked my socks off really,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Monday. “Just watching him interact with the players, watching him coach the individual drills, the team drills in the rookie camp was the first time I got to see him really coach. And he’s exciting. He knows his stuff, man, I’ll tell you that.”
Tomsula, a Pittsburgh native, spent eight years as the defensive line coach with San Francisco. He helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl and two NFC title games during the Jim Harbaugh years (2011-2014) and took over as head coach in 2015.
That 5-11 season was a disaster and his tenure ended quickly. Now, Tomsula is back as a position coach and expected to inject new life into a defensive line that has been revamped for the second offseason in a row.
“I don’t think one word can properly describe him,” Allen said of Tomsula. “He’s been a great coach the two days that I’ve worked with him. Can’t even imagine what we can get into this year.”
Chris Baker, Washington’s most productive defensive end the past two seasons, left via free agency so the Redskins have Allen, free agent defensive ends Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, and young linemen Matt Ioannidis and Anthony Lanier. Add in veterans Ziggy Hood and A.J. Francis, among others, and that’s the group Tomsula will be working with this season. And what does he bring to the table?
“Toughness. Across the board,” new Washington defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. “We might not win a game. But we’ll surely beat the crap out of a lot of people.”
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