Browns

Time for the Browns to say goodbye to the Teflon Titan

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Ray Horton has been the whipping boy for many during the Cleveland Browns’ 0-10 start. What they’re ignoring, however, is his partner in highway robbery—Special Teams Coordinator, Chris Tabor.

Randy Lerner and Jimmy Haslam have signed his checks. Mike Holmgren, Joe Banner, Ray Farmer, and Sashi Brown have all elected to retain him. Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, and Hue Jackson have all included him as a chief part of their respective staffs. Amid the constant flux and turmoil the past of the past six seasons of Browns football, there have been two constants in Cleveland: Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, and special team’s coordinator Chris Tabor.

The difference between the two is that Tabor is not heading to Canton, and it is time for the Teflon Titan to be shown the door.

The Browns have undergone a large scale youth movement in 2016. Even special team veterans such as Jonathan Bademosi and Marlon Moore have been replaced with late round draft picks and UDFAs. Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee was traded at the end of the preseason. The team is on their second kicker of the season, plucking Cody Parkey off the street hours before he went on to miss three field goals in an overtime loss.

There was an expected learning curve for Tabor’s units. There is also the point where youth can benefit special teams by inserting a bunch of young, hungry players looking to earn their place in the NFL.

Nevertheless, the Cleveland Browns rank dead last in the NFL in starting field position as they begin their drives on their own 23-yard line, two full yards worse than a kickoff touchback. There are other components that contribute to such a statistic including the defensive competence (or lack thereof), but the Browns have once again been an unmitigated disaster throughout their return units. Their punt returns ranks 30th in the NFL with just 5.9 yards per return. Their kick returns match the ranking with just 17.2 yards per return. Tabor’s unit might not hammer the nail in the Browns’ coffin, but they drill starter holes.

Tabor’s unit might not hammer the nail in the Browns’ coffin, but they drill starter holes.

The kicking unit has not done much better as the team is 12-of-17 for 70.6 percent (30th) on field goals for the season. The story gets worse once the kicks must travel at least 40 yards as the Browns are a NFL worst 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) from such distances. Such weak legs have also helped contribute to the Browns allowing 23.1 yards per kick return (22nd), which is one of the reasons opponents average starting spot is their own 30.9 yard line (29th).

The punting group is perhaps the best of the special teams just by not being horrific. The average punt travels 45.4 yards, which is only slightly below average at 18th in the league. The Browns are also not one of the three teams to have a punt blocked in 2016. Even better, the punt coverage team might be the one component of the special teams that can almost be referred to as good. The 8.3 yards per return given up is slightly above average on the whole with a ranking of 13 in the NFL. Where being average is a pipe dream for the rest of the special teams units, this could be considered a huge win.

Perhaps Randy Lerner fired Chris Tabor years ago and due to a glitch in payroll he’s still getting paid. If so, the Browns need to hire the Bobs to fix the glitch and let the problem take care of itself. If he ends up burning the offices in Berea down, then he’d only be doing what every fan has felt like while watching the Browns special teams units this season.1

bobs

  1. Y’all can thank Andrew Schnitkey for the Milton reference with Tabor. He brought it up in conversations, and it was just too perfect. []

  • NankirPhelge

    Devil’s advocate time.

    Yes, the results are lousy, but what specifically has Tabor done or not done to cause this train wreck? He, like the rest of the coaches, has very little to work with. He’s trying to make spaghetti with Ramen noodles and ketchup.

    If you’re willing to give Hue a pass, why not Tabor? He is by no means the most dysfunctional part of this team, is he?

  • Harv

    We know this guy sticks in your craw, Michael, but this is like complaining about peeling paint on the Titanic. If they are starting guys barely qualified to be on NFL rosters, the fringeness (probably not a word) and callowness (word) of special teams bottom feeders must by definition be close to historic in its pungentness (def not).

    The second career cap guy in 4 years has talked Jimmy into letting him try his hand at personnel evaluation in a complete rebuild. The Browns have a multitude of problems; Chris Tabor shouldn’t even make the first three honey-do lists.

  • mgbode

    I am willing to give Hue a pass because I have seen competency and growth from the offense. There are things I’m disappointed in (running game, OL, etc) but I can see the effort and strategy. I have seen neither out of Tabor’s group and I have been underwhelmed by his groups the past several years as well.

    A couple more poignent examples:

    Week 2 – Patrick Murray misses extra point (due to Ravens scouting hole in blocking assignments) returned for 2pts to Ravens. Ends up being a 3pt swing. 22-20 Ravens late would have been 21-19 Browns. Pryor taunting and game. There’s 1 Browns win ST legit could have cost.

    Week 3 – Tabor gets excused I guess, but Parkey’s misses the only thing stopping Browns from win. There’s 2 Browns win ST legit could have cost.

    Week 10 – See above GIF. I mean, what the heck was the plan there?

    There’s more, but the main point is that Tabor has done really nothing for years to inspire the type of confidence that his continued employment has shown. This year we sure could have used some good ST plays to help spur a young, struggling team. ST is not a unit that youngsters need years to be successful at. Yet, it is the ST unit that is hurting the team, not helping (again).

    Why is Tabor still here?

  • mgbode

    If there’s a hole in the side of your boat that just requires a small fix, then even if the ship is not going down because of it, still worth taking five minutes to patch for when you hit deeper waters.

  • RGB

    Drain the swamp.

  • Harv

    oh, don’t go mess with my analogy. The boat hit an iceberg, passengers are screaming as they plunge toward the icy depths and you’re taking 5 minutes for what, a separate small hole in the side? I smell COURT MARTIAL, Captain.

  • mgbode

    Haha, well I’m pushing Tabor overboard on the way to the brigs.

  • NankirPhelge

    I believe the term is fringieness.

  • Shadow_play

    Let’s not forget the regrettable Pick -6 of last season as well. Again to the Ravens.

  • NankirPhelge

    The morale and psyche of this team are already at rock bottom, and firing a coach now would just add to the gloom and doom.

    Hue is preaching togetherness and working through the tough times. Whacking Tabor now sends a bad message.

  • mgbode

    I am willing to wait until January. I just think it is crazy he never gets mentioned as a problem.

  • CB Everett

    Ok, but how was the (Browns) play otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln?

  • tigersbrowns2

    LMFAO !!

  • mgbode

    Sifting through the responses here & on social media. The entire defense of keeping Tabor (beyond this year) seems to lie upon “he’s not the biggest issue with the Browns”

    There has not been one compelling argument to highlight what he has done to keep his job. Heck, there hasn’t even been a non-compelling argument for what he has done to keep his job.

    The prosecution rests.

  • Chris

    On that punt GIF/Vine above… why didn’t EITHER of them call for a fair catch? There were two Ravens right on them!

  • jpftribe

    Ah hem…. we haven’t hit closing arguments.

    I think any discussion on Staff or FO changes should start with who we are going to replace them with, not simply getting rid of them. If Billy B wants to hang up the sideline hoodie and beome team President, cya Depo. If Ozzie suddenly gets a conscious and wants to GM the team formerly known as and now currently known as the Browns, sayonara Sushi. Other than maybe Pete Carroll I’m struggling to come up with a current HC I would replace Hue for. Certainly no one in the AFCN.

    Canning dudes and going on the great interview search will not work for these guys. That’s how you wind up with Jim O’Neil.

  • NankirPhelge

    Sorry, mg, but for perhaps the first time ever, an argument you made is not convincing, and the American people reject it, renounce it, and disassociate ourselves from it.

  • mgbode

    Sure, here’s an alternate view of the play.

    https://streamable.com/hcp6

    As you can see, the players only had 6 seconds to figure out which player was going to catch it and call for it. Great coaching is evident as the player collision and poor exterior blocking supplement each other into a truly egregious play.

  • mgbode

    If you are replacing the ST-version of Jim O’Neil, then does it matter? Is your argument that we can become worse than worst in the NFL at special teams?

  • mgbode

    And that, my friends, is how you end up with 8 more years of Chris Tabor.

    😉

  • jpftribe

    Yes, there is no limit to Browns suckiness. Search Nasa.gov for black holes and I’m sure somewhere you will find an orange helmet.

  • mgbode

    I do love that there has yet to be one positive attribute given for a coach that has been here the past six years.

    Then again, the Ravens used flaws in blocking to Kick-6 a victory last year & then flip a 3pt change that might have decided our Week 2 game this year. So…

  • mgbode

    Reasons given to keep Tabor (rolling list – please do let me know if I missed any):

    1. Results are lousy, but he should be given a pass
    2. Tabor isn’t the worst problem on the Browns
    3. Firing Tabor sends a bad message to the team
    4. Players on special teams shouldn’t even be in the NFL
    5. New ST coach could make Browns even worse than the worst unit in the NFL

    Good job, good effort on the attempts. It is tough to contrarian argue for Tabor. I applaud you for trying.

  • jpftribe

    Well, I also think that when comparing to peers, most teams usually have bonafide NFL players on their ST’s. Those players actually start at OLB and Safety for the Browns. Our ST’s are UFDA bonanzas.

  • mgbode

    Like Joe Haden in the PR clip?

  • jpftribe

    No, like the other two guys that are blocking the Ravens in the back.

  • mgbode

    Players in that video:

    23 – Joe Haden (starting CB)
    20 – Briean Boddy-Calhoun (starting CB)
    29 – Duke Johnson (3rd down RB)
    26 – Marcus Burley (apparently a 3rd year player from Delaware)

  • Chris

    “Cleveland knows all about two outfielders coming together”

    ZING!!
    Oh… crap.
    https://media.giphy.com/media/ZWq4t76Z3wQQ8/giphy.gif

  • Chris

    6. Angry-Bode is a lot of fun to read
    7. Once HBT turns this thing gets turned around, Bode will need someone to gripe about.
    8. All those first and second round busts gotta play somewhere!

  • mgbode

    No. 6 & 7 shall not be an issue – there’s always something (and, haha – thank you)

    http://31.media.tumblr.com/76ac55cf69d34dcbd045b1571847ae8d/tumblr_ncfkhf1eyl1qzdfclo1_400.gif

  • mgbode

    The good thing for the Browns is that it will never happen in a game that matters?

  • jpftribe

    Case in point: How could this not be an upgrade to Cam Johnson or Tank Carder?
    https://twitter.com/ProFootballTalk/status/799378585895239681

  • jpftribe

    OK Bode you win. I feel like I’m hiring a $10K Lawyer for a $50 parking ticket.

  • Bob Jarvis

    Hey! Add some oregano, a little garlic, some basil, and you’ve got yerself a DARN fine spaghetti sauce there! Maybe the same would work for the Browns.

    Also – while I agree that the defense is terrible and the special teams are awsome-less – the offense is also an unmitigated disaster. So if you’re going to single out the guy who coaches the players who are on the team for the least amount of time, you’ve got to call for the heads of the coaches who work with the guys who spend the MOST time on the field – and that would be (class…?)…yes, that’s right – Ray Horton and Pep Hamilton. Pep WHO?!? Yes, Pep Hamilton, the Associate Head Coach – Offense.

    Or just fire Jimmy. Dee..?

  • mgbode

    I’ll gladly take $10K (heck, I’ll take the $50)

    It’s all good. No one wins when we discuss the atrocities currently occurring on our beloved Browns.

  • mgbode

    Pep works w/ the QBs

    Did you know that Cody Kessler has the highest QBrating of any Browns QB for a season since 1999? (min 100 pass attempts)

  • NankirPhelge

    You’re just a lousy Taborist, is what you are.

  • Bob Jarvis

    Wow, that’s really great. He also got hammered today for his second trip to “Ding-dong, Avon calling…”-land this season. Can you say “multiple concussion syndrome”? I knew you could.
    OK, so Kessler’s probably gone for the season, maybe for good. McCown’s The Dude, until he gets his ass busted up. How ’bout RGIII? Cuz ready or not, he’s gonna have to go in..!
    Did you know that there are no QB’s on the Browns roster who have actually managed to win a home game? Not a win. Not a one. Wow. Wonderful!
    If this wasn’t so incredibly sad this would be incredibly funny…

  • Bob Jarvis

    How about: firing the guy whose players spend the least amount of time on the field amounts to closing the barn door after the horses have gone? I mean, seriously, what’s the point? Yes, OK, the special teams suck – but the defense sucks more – and the offense sucks MOST! So by any logical conclusion the coach(es) to be fired should be those whose squads have accumulated the greatest amount of suckage on the team – and that (dubious) honor goes to the coach who’s in charge of the offense, which would be…uh…Hue Jackson. Which would be tantamount to Yet Another Blow-Up. Which isn’t actually supposed to happen (to Hue) until it’s due (boo-hoo) in another year or two (woo!) when it’ll be toodle-oo to you, Hue!

  • Bob Jarvis

    The black hole is *inside* an orange helmet. Ergo, an orange helmet must be the event horizon of the black hole, meaning that nothing can escape from it, meaning that once a player is drafted by the Browns he/she/it can never ever leave. Ever. Unless they use quantum tunneling or free agency, both of which are pretty low probabilities.

  • Bob Jarvis

    Hmmm…positive attribute for Browns coaches over the past six years. Hmmm… How about “They left”?

  • Bob Jarvis

    So Browns…