The next defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles almost has to be a defensive assistant on one of the Super Bowl teams. Since that’s most likely the case, I’m here to make a case for Jim Tomsula, the defensive line coach of the 49ers.
The hot name at first was 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell, but rumors have surfaced that the Eagles have cooled on him. The hot name now — if there is really a name we can consider “hot” — is Ravens LB coach Ted Monachino.
I will preface this article with the fact that I still think Donatell is very much a consideration here and Monochino does make sense. However, there are two other guys I think could very well be in the picture but their names haven’t popped up in association with the Eagles yet:
49ers’ DL coach Jim Tomsula and the other Ravens LB coach Don Martindale.
However, after doing a little research, I’ve come away enamored with Tomsula and I now think he should get serious consideration from the Eagles.
Tomsula has an interesting background. He has nine years experience in NFL Europe, including two as a DC and one as a HC. His NFL experience only consists of six years as a DL coach with San Fran, though he did serve as the interim head coach for exactly one game at the end of 2010.
Tomsula is a much-respected man out there in San Fran. He coached under Mike Singletary and was retained by Jim Harbaugh when he took over. It speaks highly of coaches when they’re retained by a new regime.
You can check out Tomsula’s bio here. He has a pretty impressive history of getting his players to perform well and his defensive lines have consistently been ranked in the top-10 vs. the run.
His defensive lines have also been consistently ranked high by Football Outsiders, who look at much, much more than just rushing yards against/yards per carry. They have Tomsula’s defensive lines ranked in the top-10 in three of the past four years (two in the top-5) and account for all of these factors:
RB Yards: Yards per carry by running backs against this defense, according to standard NFL numbers.
Power Success: Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer. This is the only statistic on this page that includes quarterbacks. Teams are ranked from lowest power success percentage allowed (#1) to highest power success percentage allowed (#32).
Stuffed: Percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage.Ranked from most stuffs (#1) to fewest stuffs (#32).
Second Level Yards: Yards earned by opposing running backs against this team between 5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage, divided by total running back carries.
Open Field Yards: Yards earned by opposing running backs against this team more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, divided by total running back carries.
Therefore, that’s even more impressive than just looking at “basic” stats.
Tomsula is also given a lot of credit for an incredible streak by the 49ers’ run defense: Between 2009 and 2011, they went 36-straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.
They also set an record in 2011 by not allowing a rushing touchdown in the first 14 games of the season. Granted, the NFL is a passing league nowadays, but those are still two very impressive feats.
Another positive factor in regards to Tomsula is that he was voted “Best Players Coach” in the NFC West by ESPN’s Mike Sando in 2011. He has an outstanding passion for the game and relates to his players very well.
If you want to read a good background story on him, check here…He considers himself “Jim Nobody from Nowhere” and the article emphasizes how he got to where he’s at and his love for coaching. Here’s a quick quote from a DC he worked with on his NFL Europe team:
“Jimmy’s one of those guys, I don’t think he can live without the game. He loves football. It’s just the way he coaches. He has guys willing to run through a brick wall for him.”
That might be a cliche, but Philadelphia needs players willing to run through brick walls!
Sean Payton and the Saints might be eying-up Tomsula as well, now that they’re also moving to a 3-4 scheme. Here is a quote courtesy of Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune from 49ers DE Justin Smith and what he had to say about Tomsula:
“He’s a fiery guy,” Niners defensive lineman Justin Smith said. “He’s not just a rah-rah guy, there’s a lot more to him than that. He knows his stuff so you don’t have to yell and just jump around all the time. You can actually talk. He’ll give us some information, some input, how we’re going to shut it down and that’s what I appreciate about him.”
Smith went a step further saying he’s shocked Tomsula isn’t a defensive coordinator in the NFL right now. Tomsula has been the defensive line coach in San Francisco since 2007.
“The success this team has had, I think it’s pretty well known around the league how much he knows,” Smith said. “
Here was Tomsula’s response when he heard what Smith had said about him:
When told how Smith said he was surprised Tomsula hasn’t become a defensive coordinator in the NFL already, Tomsula said, “That’s all in the future, but I might have to slide Justin a couple of bucks for that. He’s my PR guy.”
Even though he doesn’t quite fit the “vast NFL experience” protocol that Chip Kelly said he’s looking for, his background is diverse enough and his reputation is stellar enough to make him a very interesting candidate.