Amid the dysfunction that’s consumed the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staffs throughout this decade, their special teams department has continued to employ the same leader. Despite the Browns being on their fifth head coach of the 2010s, Chris Tabor is entering his seventh season as the team’s special teams coach.
Hue Jackson is Tabor’s fourth boss since he arrived in Cleveland in 2011, so the enduring assistant’s opinion means something. His latest involves a comparison to one of modern football’s best return men.
Tabor compared the talents of rookie safety/return man Jabrill Peppers to that of Josh Cribbs — a revered special-teamer in northeast Ohio. According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, Tabor was ecstatic when the Browns drafted Peppers in the first round, to the point Jackson yelled for the special teams coach after the team made the pick just to see what his reaction would be.
“The way he’s built, he kind of reminds me a little bit in the Cribbsy mold,” Tabor said of the 5-foot-10, 213-pound Peppers last week at Browns minicamp. “He has some thickness to him. If you look at our past returners, even when I was in Chicago with Devin [Hester], Devin was a little slighter guy. Travis was a really slight guy.
“[Peppers is] a mix of more of a Cribbsy and can go north, south. But I thought he had good vision coming out, and you could see it on a lot of plays where he could just create on his own, and I think those are good traits in a returner.”
Cribbs totaled 11 return touchdowns (eight on punts) during a 10-year career that featured three Pro Bowl nods. Peppers totaled one return TD while at Michigan but averaged 13.1 yards per punt return and 26.8 per kickoff return. The Browns were a bottom-tier team in both categories last season, with Travis Benjamin’s exit wounding those respective corps.