During an individual drill, for example, Allen went down the row of four blocking pads on a sled, trying to punch the bags, then turn his inside shoulder to the inside. As he did so, Tomsula kept coaching: “Too high. Get low! Get low!” So he had Allen repeat the drill.
“Eyes down! Eyes down! That’s good,” Tomsula told him.
Then the group of four defensive linemen repeated the drill. And the situation repeated itself. Allen struggled to stay low and, as he punched the bag on the third one, Tomsula told him to stop.
“Now I got you thinking about 12 things,” Tomsula told him. “I don’t want to do that.
So Tomsula showed Allen how he wanted it done, where he wanted his eyes and how the rookie had looked in comparison. And then Allen did as he was told.
“There ya go! Feeling that? Much better,” Tomsula said.
That’s how it went for Allen, the 17th overall pick in the draft last month and a player who will be one of the building blocks on the Redskins’ defense. The Redskins have high expectations for Allen, which means they’re going to pay close attention to his progress, especially when it’s their first exposure to him. He didn’t have problems being coached, and he improved each time after Tomsula talked to him.
“He’s got great football knowledge, number one,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “Number two, he has great hands and his feet are good. He’s got all the tools to be a great defensive lineman, without a doubt. I think there are some things he can clean up, as all of these young guys have issues they need to clean up. As far as skill set is concerned, Jonathan has everything you’re looking for in a defensive lineman.”
During the first weekend, Allen was trying to implement what he was being taught. In one-on-one drills Saturday, he sometimes struggled to beat undrafted free agent guard Kyle Kalis. Repeating a theme, Allen was too upright the first two times. But on the third time, Allen burst to his outside and used strong hands to turn the corner.
It’s a nice story that Allen played high school ball a few minutes away at Stone Bridge, but it’ll become a better one if he plays a certain way.
And the Redskins hope Tomsula’s coaching can help get him there more consistently. Allen hopes the same, which is why he said a couple times of Tomsula: “I love him.”
“We were working on stuff [Friday] and trying to implement it and I didn’t have too much success at first,” Allen said. “I’m working on new things. [Tomsula] has done it before and I haven’t, so I’m trying to take every little nugget from him and implement it into my game.”