Chris Tabor was named the Browns’ special teams coordinator on Jan. 25, 2011. Tabor, pronounced TAY-ber, has 22 years of coaching experience between the high school, collegiate and professional levels.
Since Tabor’s arrival, the Browns lead the league with an average of 11.3 yards per punt return and rank eighth in total kick-return yards. In addition, the team has had five players named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Last season, Tabor guided a special teams unit that finished second in the NFL in opposing field position on kickoffs, including 16 stops inside the 20. The Browns also turned away four kicks (two punts and two field goals) and finished eighth in the NFL in punt coverage. Cleveland’s coverage unit hasn’t allowed a kickoff or punt return touchdown in each of the past two seasons. The Browns also registered their first blocked punt since 2003, which resulted in a safety and helped lift the team to a record-setting comeback at Tennessee on Oct. 5.
In 2013, Tabor helped K Billy Cundiff set a franchise record with 62 touchbacks on kickoffs. In addition, Travis Benjamin set a team record with 179 punt-return yards against Buffalo on Oct. 3.
In 2012, K Phil Dawson and KR Joshua Cribbs were both selected to the Pro Bowl, marking just the second time in team history that two specialists made the annual all-star game in the same year (2008, Cribbs and LS Ryan Pontbriand). The Pro Bowl selection was the first of Dawson’s 14-year career. His 93.5 (29 of 31) field goal percentage clip led the AFC and was a career best. Dawson’s seven field goals from 50 yards or longer tied for the second-most in the NFL in 2012. Cribbs finished fourth in the NFL in kickoff return average (27.4) and sixth in punt-return average (12.0). In addition, Johnson Bademosi led all rookies and finished tied for third in the NFL with 18 special-teams tackles en route to being named the PFW/PFWA All-Rookie special teams player.
As a team, the Browns led the NFL with nine punt returns of 20 yards or longer in 2012, including rookie Travis Benjamin’s team record 93-yard return against Kansas City (12/9/12). The Browns also led the league in the league in opponents’ average starting position after kickoffs (19.9) and were second in the NFL in opponents’ kickoff return average (19.8).
In Tabor’s first season as special teams coordinator, the Browns finished second in the league with an average starting position of 24.5 after kickoffs. Dawson converted on seven field goals of 50 yards or longer, which tied for the most in the NFL in 2011. P Brad Maynard tied the Browns’ single-season record with 32 punts inside the 20. Cribbs finished sixth in the league in punt return average (11.4) and 12th in kickoff return average (25.0).
Prior to joining the Browns, Tabor spent three seasons (2008-10) as assistant special teams coach with Chicago. During Tabor’s tenure with the Bears, Chicago consistently ranked among the league leaders in numerous departments. The Bears ranked in the top five in no less than nine different special teams categories combined over that three-year period. Chicago led the NFL in total return yards (6,570) and kickoff return yards (5,415), posted the second-best kickoff return average (25.1), ranked third in punt return defense (7.1) and produced the fifth-best punt return average (10.4). The Bears also registered six total kick returns for touchdowns in that time, which tied for second-most in the league.
Also during Tabor’s stint in Chicago, the Bears tied for fifth in the league in punts inside the 20-yard line (90) and tied for seventh in field goal percentage (86.2). From 2008-10, Chicago was one of only six teams in the NFL to allow one or fewer kick return touchdowns as that total tied for second in the league over that three-year span.
Tabor also helped shape some of the NFL’s top return specialists. In 2008, Danieal Manning led the NFL in kickoff return average (29.7). In 2009, Johnny Knox finished second in the league in kickoff return average (29.0) and earned a Pro Bowl selection as a kick returner. In 2010, Devin Hester led the NFL in punt return average (17.1) and punt return touchdowns (3) en route to earning a Pro Bowl nod as a kick returner.
In 2010, the Bears ranked first in the league in punt return average (17.1), second in kickoff return average (25.4), second in average drive start after kickoffs (31.5) and ninth in punt return defense (7.8). The Bears’ special teams unit also ranked fourth in the NFL, based on a composite formula devised by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Prior to Chicago, Tabor spent two seasons at Western Michigan University (2006-07) as the running backs and special teams coach. He also spent four seasons at Utah State University, where he was the running backs and special teams coach in 2005 after being the Aggies’ assistant head coach in charge of wide receivers from 2002-04.
Tabor coached at Central Methodist College (1995-96) in Fayette, Mo., before spending four seasons at the University of Missouri. He spent his first three years with the Tigers as an offensive graduate assistant (1997-99) before moving into the role of running backs and special teams coach in 2000. He was also the head coach at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo., in 2001.
From 1993-1994, Tabor built experience at the community college and high school levels, coaching at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College (1994) and Benton High School (1993) in St. Joseph, Mo.
Tabor graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he played four seasons at quarterback. He earned a master’s degree in education from Columbia (Mo.) College.
He and his wife, Nikki, have two daughters, Paityn and Lainey.
Chris Tabor’s Coaching Background:
1997-99 University of Missouri, offensive graduate assistant coach
2000 University of Missouri, running backs and special teams coach
2001 Culver-Stockton College, head coach
2002-04 Utah State University, assistant head coach/wide receivers
2005 Utah State University, running backs and special teams coach
2006-07 Western Michigan University, running backs and special teams coach
2008-10 Chicago Bears, assistant special teams coach
2011- Cleveland Browns, special teams coordinator