It is safe to say that Cleveland Browns safety
How big an impression? Horton called Gipson his defensive Most Valuable Player through the first nine games of the season.
“It’s a humbling experience for Coach Horton to speak that highly of me,” Gipson said Friday. “At the end of the day, it’s a team sport. I wouldn’t be able to achieve any success without my guys, the front seven being able to accumulate that kind of pressure with guys like Joe (Haden), T.J. (Ward), Buster (Skrine), (and) C.O. (
“I’m gracious for his beliefs, and I can go out there and continue to grind and try to be a better pro and have a better second half of the season than I did the first half. At the end of the day, it’s just about grinding, just getting better as a player. I still haven’t reached any of my goals, but it’s humbling to say the least.”
Gipson came to the Browns as a cornerback from the University of Wyoming, and was quickly switched to safety, where he earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent. Late in his first NFL season, Gipson earned three starts, registered 29 total tackles, including 23 solo stops, and returned an interception 23 yards in a 30-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
“As a corner, you get one call and you zone out and do your job,” Gipson said. “At safety, you’ve got to really know what the whole defense is doing. I’ve got to know what Joe is doing, Buster’s doing, T.J.’s doing, as well as what D’Qwell (Jackson) and Craig (Robertson) are doing. There’s a lot of integral parts that you’ve got to know.
“At safety, you’ve got to come down and make plays. That’s what it comes down to. You’ve got to cover as well as be able to come down and fill a hole and make tackles. I think that was the biggest adjustment for me last year. I think I’m starting to get adjusted to safety.”
Gipson began the 2013 season in competition for the starting free safety job, and was quick to take hold of the position. He currently ranks fourth on the team with 62 total tackles, and tied for second with 49 solo stops. Gipson is also tied for first with two interceptions.
Horton called Gipson a player with “a ton of smarts,” that is “a much better tackler than I ever envisioned.”
“He makes very few mistakes and he’s protected some guys that may have been out of position,” Horton said. “I use the word ‘unremarkable,’ meaning on a piece of paper when you’re watching practice and grading, you don’t remark anything about him because he’s always in the right place doing the right thing.
“It’s a compliment for me to say he’s unremarkable. At the end of the day, when you look at your sheet, with 39, it’s either good or you don’t say anything. He has very few mental mistakes and he’s just been a fantastic player. It’s really a comfort because I know he’s going to be at the right place at the right time and do his job well.”
Coach Rob Chudzinski added, “As you look at Tashaun, he’s a guy that’s improved a lot. He’s come out of nowhere, stepped up and has been a solid starter for us. He calls a lot of things on our defense and he’s making a lot of plays. I really like the direction he’s going.
“His approach has been great throughout. He does have a lot of confidence in himself and has gone out and performed. He’s really done a nice job for us.”
Although Gipson has had some success over his first two seasons with the Browns and has drawn praise for his play, in his opinion, he has not even scratched the surface when it comes to how good he can be.
“I’m not where I want to be,” Gipson said. “I personally feel like there are things out there, like I left a lot of plays out there that I want back, but I haven’t reached the top. Any guy in this league wants to be at the top, and I’m still humble in this process, and just want to continue to be the best I can be.
“I always knew I could play and play at a high level. I feel like there are things that I’ve personally set out for myself and I’m still trying to climb and get those. I don’t feel like I’ve exceeded any expectations because I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m just playing football and the Browns organization gave me this opportunity. I’m blessed to be in this situation.”