With quite a few veteran options already in-house and the potential for a few more to be added in the 2017 NFL Draft, Jim Tomsula will make sure the Redskins have a good nose tackle anchoring the defense.
New Washington Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula has assured head coach Jay Gruden that the team will have a resolution to their nose tackle situation once the regular season begins later this year.
Tomsula's proved successful in molding some of the best defensive line units during his eight seasons as defensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, as the team's nose tackles helped produce for a unit that ranked fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (98.4) and second in rushing average (3.72) during that span.
"He'll make a nose guard," Gruden said at the 2017 NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix this week. "If you look at his track record, [and] you look at the nose guards [that] he's had, none of them have been priority first-round draft choices. He's made nose guards. He coaches that position extremely well, and I have faith that he'll do that."
After the departure of Terrence Knighton following the completion of his one-year deal in 2015, the Redskins used a group of defensive linemen to be the middle whenever the team was in its base 3-4 scheme.
Washington was able to retain one of the members of that group, re-signing veteran Ziggy Hood earlier this month, but Chris Baker – who played some nose to start his tenure with the Redskins – signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the first day of free agency.
While Gruden said Baker was "a great Redskins and we'll miss him," the coaching staff is eager to see what some of the new faces can accomplish under Tomsula, both at nose tackle and defensive end.
"We're excited about [Terrell] McClain and [Stacy] McGee, we're really, really excited about Anthony Lanier," Gruden said. "He's 290 pounds right now, obviously Matt [Ioannidis is] going to get stronger, A.J. Francis, [Joey] Mbu, [Phil] Taylor," Gruden said. "See how he does. Ziggy Hood's coming back, so we have some depth down there that we like."
The Redskins have signed defensive tackle Terrell McClain. Take a look at photos from McClain's career.
Gruden believes McClain will continue to build on what turned out to be a career year for him in 2016, as he posted personal bests in tackles (40) and sacks (2.5).
"You know, the thing about McClain is he's, he didn't do a whole lot his first couple years but he just came on like gangbusters," Gruden said. "I like the fact that guys continue to stay with it and work and you see their work pay off. Their development…sometimes their development doesn't happen until age 27, 28, 29 and it just hits and it clicks and he is a force to be reckoned with as far as his ability to track down plays and hustle."
But back to Tomsula for a second, as the Redskins look to improve on an overall defensive ranking of 28th and allowed nearly 120 rushing yards per game.
Out of the coaching ranks in 2016 following his lone season as head coach for the 49ers, Tomsula has worked previously with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Coupling his coaching experience with his understanding of Manusky's goals made Tomsula's hiring an easy decision for the Redskins after Washington examined various potential defensive coaching staffs.
"It just came down to the Manusky/Tomsula combo was very appealing to me, and Greg knowing the defensive players that we had, the system he ran kind of similarly in Indianapolis and San Francisco," Gruden said. "But the experience of Jim Tomsula was huge. And then to be able to retain Kirk Olivadotti and go from there."