Jim Tomsula spent a year away from football, and came back with a new look. In his first public appearance as the Washington Redskins defensive line coach during the NFL Combine in March, Tomusla’s thick mustache was gone. Tomsula was also noticeably slimmer as he coached up defensive linemen through their on-field workouts.
“My wife said, ‘Man, you look old and scraggly. Get that off,’” Tomsula said after Tuesday’s minicamp practice. “Her and the daughters. I said, ‘Ok, let me shave that off.’ She said, ‘And 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 dyeing my hair though.”
The 49-year-old looks better than ever in his return to coaching after a one-year stint as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, and he’s back to teaching the position group he loves.
The organization will lean on Tomsula to get the most from the talent on hand as he did for eight years with the 49ers before being promoted as head coach. Despite the praise he’s received from Redskins Coach Jay Gruden and Manusky throughout the offseason, Tomsula has remained humble in his return to coaching.
“I don’t know everything about anything,” Tomsula said. “I appreciate that, but I don’t. I like that [the defensive line is] a different kind of a guy, a different group in there. The O-line is more cerebral. The D-line, you’ve got to be pretty smart for what we’re asking to do. They’re a bit nuts, you know? It’s almost like The Muppets in there. I’m a Muppet, so there it is.”
It’s been an area of emphasis this offseason for the Redskins, who have lacked depth and talent over the last two years. Washington fired former defensive line coach Robb Akey after the season, watched starting defensive lineman Chris Baker depart and cut Ricky Jean Francois during free agency.
The revamped unit now features a first-round pick in Jonathan Allen, two free agency acquisitions in Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, a handful of young players retained on the roster from last season and a well-respected position coach in Tomsula.
“Overall, I think from a toughness standpoint – I’m not saying that the guys that we did have before weren’t tough – I’m just saying that’s what Jimmy Tomsula is kind of putting into them,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “It’s ‘tough.’ It’s talking about hard work each and every day in the weight room, out on the field, and eventually when we get into the five weeks during the summer, I mean, that’s a time when they can really mess it up or take advantage of it and really perform at a high level and do great things.
“Across the board, I’m happy with the guys that we have right now. I see Jim working with them every day. We’re not there by any stretch of the means of the word, but I think we’re getting there. You see progress with each player, young and old, and we’re excited about what we have up front.”
Tomusla said he feels comfortable being a defensive line coach once again, and it shows with how animated Tomsula has been during offseason workouts and minicamp so far.
“I’m excited about the whole group,” Tomsula said. “I know maybe this isn’t the most popular, but they are to me. They’re a fun group to coach, and I’m really excited about what they’re doing.”