- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 18, 2017

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.”

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