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Five things to know about DL coach Darryl Tapp

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2013 file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) leans for more yardage as he is hit by Washington Redskins linebacker Darryl Tapp (54) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Landover, Md.  Bell's bumpy start to his NFL career is starting to smooth itself out. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2013 file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) leans for more yardage as he is hit by Washington Redskins linebacker Darryl Tapp (54) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Landover, Md. Bell's bumpy start to his NFL career is starting to smooth itself out. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

The Washington Commanders have finalized their coaching staff for the 2024 season, and is going to spend the next few weeks providing an inside look at their backgrounds and what they can add to the team.

Next up is defensive line coach Darryl Tapp.

1. He was a standout at Virginia Tech.

The DMV is not new territory for Tapp. He was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, and became one of the top prospects in the state at Deep Creek High School after recording 15 sacks and 89 tackles as a senior. That drew attention from college programs around the country, but Tapp decided to stay close to home and commit to Virginia Tech, where he became one of the school's best athletes.

It didn't take long for Tapp to make an impact for the Hokies. He was a special teams contributor as a freshman and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against Virginia in 2002. He became more of a pivotal contributor from there, recording 58 tackles and 17 quarterback hurries in 2003 and earning a starting role in 2004. He was a First Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection in 2004 and 2005, getting a combined 108 tackles and 18.5 sacks.

Tapp was also an exceptional talent in the weight room. He set a school record for defensive ends by squatting 660 pounds on top of getting 415 pounds on the bench press, a 340-pound push jerk and a 32.5 vertical jump.

Tapp finished his career with 166 tackles and 21.5 sacks, earning him a spot in the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.

2. He had a long NFL career.

Tapp was regarded as one of the better defensive end prospects in the 2006 NFL Draft and was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round. That started a lengthy 12-year career, and no matter where he went, Tapp established himself as a solid contributor.

Tapp spent four seasons in Seattle, becoming a starter after his rookie season. He hit his peak with the Seahawks in 2007, the only time he started a full season, ranking third on the team with seven sacks and 10th with 49 tackles. Tapp continued to be a disruptive pass-rusher in his final two seasons with the team, grabbing 7.5 sacks and forcing four fumbles, before he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round pick and signed a three-year contract with the team.

Tapp played in 39 games for the Eagles with three starts before signing a one-year deal with Washington ahead of the 2013 season. Tapp played in 11 games for the Burgundy & Gold, recording 10 tackles and a sack. From there, Tapp spent two seasons with the Detroit Lions before wrapping up his career with one-year stints in New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

Over the 12 seasons that Tapp was in the NFL, he played in 165 games with 39 starts. He recorded 332 tackles (262 solo) with 100 quarterback hits, 29 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

3. He had an immediate impact as a college coach.

Tapp made his debut in coaching after retiring in 2017. He got his start at the collegiate level after being an intern with the Saints, and based on his three stops at Central Michigan, Vanderbilt and Virginia, it was clear that he had a bright future in the profession.

In Tapp's one season as a defensive quality control coach for Central Michigan, the Chippewas racked up 29 sacks and 12 fumble recoveries. Defensive lineman Mike Danna was the start of the unit, leading the team with 9.5 sacks and earned First Team All-Mid-American honors. Tapp then moved on to Vanderbilt, where he served as a special teams quality control coach and helped the unit average 42.2 yards per punt and hit 83% of its field goals.

Tapp got his first opportunity to coach a position group at his alma mater as a co-defensive line coach for the Hokies. The Virginia Tech defensive line feasted in 2020, combining for 36 sacks with Amare Barno and Justus Reed leading with team with 6.5. Barno also had 16 tackles for loss and forced two fumbles, which earned him Honorable Mention All-ACC honors.

Tapp's coaching career is still in its infancy, but his success at his first three stops helps create high expectations for what he can accomplish in Washington.

4. He played a role in elevating the 49ers' defense.

Tapp made his NFL coaching debut in 2021, when Kyle Shanahan added him to the 49ers' staff as an assistant defensive line coach. It's not a coincidence that San Francisco went from being one of the worst teams at rushing the passer to one of the best.

Prior to Tapp joining the staff, the 49ers ranked 22nd with 30 sacks in 2020. Things completely flipped once Tapp was hired in 2021, with the 49ers leading the league with 22 forced fumbles and tying for fifth with 48 sacks. Nick Bosa was the main attraction of the position group, finishing the season with 15.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl selection, but Tapp also helped Arden Key record a career-high 6.5 sacks.

The 49ers continued that trend for the next two seasons. They finished in the top 10 in sacks in 2022 and 2023, and Bosa earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2022 for leading the league with 18.5 sacks.

The 49ers had one of the best defenses in the league during their 2023 Super Bowl run. They were eighth in the league in yards allowed, third in points allowed and third in rushing yards allowed. They also allowed the fourth lowest passer rating in the league and lowest in the NFC.

5. He thinks "there's a lot of talent" on Washington's defensive line.

Tapp has had a busy schedule for the past week. He's had to move to the DMV and get familiar with his fellow coaches, all of whom were hired around the same time. He hasn't had much time to dive into the roster yet, but he's seen enough to be impressed with the defensive linemen.

"There's a lot of talent here, and that's exciting," Tapp said.

Although Washington's defensive line went through a drastic transition in 2023 with the trading of Chase Young and Montez Sweat, which had a clear effect on the team's ability to accumulate sacks, the team still has quality defensive linemen with Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne still on the roster. Both players had a down year from a statistical standpoint based on how they had improved in previous seasons, but both players are still considered two of the best interior defenders playing today.

Tapp will be responsible for getting the defensive line back on track and guiding younger players like KJ Henry and Andre Jones Jr. He has a simple message for his new players: he's here to help them reach whatever goals they have for themselves.

"We're going to work our butts off and make sure we're in maximum do that," Tapp said. "I'm going to work my butt off with [defensive coordinator] Coach [Joe] Whitt and [head coach Dan Quinn] to try to put them in position to do that."

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