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Already a Browns fixture, Chris Tabor tasked with making special teams 'second to none'

Chris Tabor's meeting with the news media last week was quite literally met with cheers and applause.

The Browns special teams coordinator — who learned last month he'd get to coach in Cleveland for his sixth season — smiled and playfully waved to reporters as he walked to the podium.

"Welcome back, everybody," said Tabor, who had his first press conference on Thursday since being retained by first-year head coach Hue Jackson. "Good to be back. It always is. Cleveland is what I consider my home and my family's home. It is a great opportunity."

After all, Tabor — who has been with the team since 2011 — has been something of a fixture while the Browns coaching staff has struggled to maintain continuity in recent years. And now, he said the chance to join Jackson and a new era is something he cherishes.

"I feel blessed. I really do. I truly believe deep down in my heart the good Lord always has a plan for you. You never question the plan. You execute the plan. I am excited about the opportunity to work with coach (Jackson). I had the opportunity to visit with him. You could see his passion," Tabor said, adding Jackson has challenged him to make the unit "second to none."

"That's exciting for myself and our staff to be able to take that challenge head on. With regards to the steps that we are doing and the process in regards to watching tape, how can we get better and all of those things and now you are kind of beginning to get into the draft," he said. "We are doing those things, but we are also understanding 'this' is what Coach Jackson wants, 'this' is the style of special teams that he wants to play. We might have to adjust some things in those areas, but that is exciting to me because you are growing as a coach."

Under Tabor's watch, the Browns special teams have been one the league's better ones. They hold the NFL's highest punt return average from 2011-15 (11.3 yards) behind wide receiver/return man Travis Benjamin while kicker Travis Coons knocked down 18 field goals to set a league record for the most consecutive field goals to begin a career. Two seasons ago, the Browns finished second in the NFL in opposing field position on kickoffs two seasons ago and eighth in the league punt coverage two seasons ago.

"He's so respected through the National Football League," Jackson said in a recent interview. "To me, it was a coup in keeping him here."

Even so, the Browns special teams have room for improvement — notably in the need to address four long field goals that were blocked, including one that was returned by the Baltimore Ravens for a game-winning touchdown in November.

"Obviously, there are things that we did last year that we did well that we need to continue to get better at. There are things that we didn't do as well that we have to get fixed," Tabor said. "At the end of the day, you want to be an intimidating-type special teams unit."

To do so, Tabor said the Browns won't have a new playbook but a central "philosophy" that will take shape over the coming months.

"A lot of the philosophies will stay the same, but you have to be able to change," he said. "In our area, as we all know, the roster is always changing, and as coaches, we have to change also because whatever parts that we have, we have to be able to coach them and get them to play at a high level."

Tabor added: "It's a fun time, it's challenging time, and we're looking forward to this next one."

Chris Tabor's meeting with the news media last week was quite literally met with cheers and applause.

 

The Browns special teams coordinator — who learned last month he'd get to coach in Cleveland for his sixth season — smiled and playfully waved to reporters as he walked to the podium.

 

"Welcome back, everybody," said Tabor, who had his first press conference on Thursday since being retained by first-year head coach Hue Jackson. "Good to be back. It always is. Cleveland is what I consider my home and my family's home. It is a great opportunity."

 

After all, Tabor — who has been with the team since 2011 — has been something of a fixture while the Browns coaching staff has struggled to maintain continuity in recent years. And now, he said the chance to join Jackson and a new era is something he cherishes.

 

"I feel blessed. I really do. I truly believe deep down in my heart the good Lord always has a plan for you. You never question the plan. You execute the plan. I am excited about the opportunity to work with coach (Jackson). I had the opportunity to visit with him. You could see his passion," Tabor said, adding Jackson has challenged him to make the unit "second to none."

 

"That's exciting for myself and our staff to be able to take that challenge head on. With regards to the steps that we are doing and the process in regards to watching tape, how can we get better and all of those things and now you are kind of beginning to get into the draft," he said. "We are doing those things, but we are also understanding 'this' is what Coach Jackson wants, 'this' is the style of special teams that he wants to play. We might have to adjust some things in those areas, but that is exciting to me because you are growing as a coach."

 

Under Tabor's watch, the Browns special teams have been one the league's better ones. They hold the NFL's  highest punt return average from 2011-15 (11.3 yards) behind wide receiver/return man Travis Benjamin while kicker Travis Coons knocked down 18 field goals to set a league record for the most consecutive field goals to begin a career. Two seasons ago, the Browns finished second in the NFL in opposing field position on kickoffs two seasons ago and eighth in the league punt coverage two seasons ago.

 

"He's so respected through the National Football League," Jackson said in a recent interview. "To me, it was a coup in keeping him here."

 

Even so, the Browns special teams have room for improvement — notably in the need to address four long field goals that were blocked, including one that was returned by the Baltimore Ravens for a game-winning touchdown in November.

 

"Obviously, there are things that we did last year that we did well that we need to continue to get better at. There are things that we didn't do as well that we have to get fixed," Tabor said. "At the end of the day, you want to be an intimidating-type special teams unit."

 

To do so, Tabor said the Browns won't have a new playbook but a central "philosophy" that will take shape over the coming months.  

"A lot of the philosophies will stay the same, but you have to be able to change," he said. "In our area, as we all know, the roster is always changing, and as coaches, we have to change also because whatever parts that we have, we have to be able to coach them and get them to play at a high level."

 

Tabor added: "It's a fun time, it's challenging time, and we're looking forward to this next one."

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