Chicago Bears' Tabor happy to explain his job
Chris Tabor, the Chicago Bears' new special-teams coordinator, believes some people have the wrong idea about what it takes to do his job.
"The one thing about being the special-teams coordinator is understanding the (entire) roster," said Tabor, who was an assistant special-teams coach for the Bears under Dave Toub from 2008-10.
"Sometimes people think special-teams coaches just stand out at practice and wait for their time, when really you're watching practice and seeing what personnel packages the offense and defense are doing.
"Then, as a special-teams guy, (you think) 'Oh, they're only using (a certain player) on third down? I can maybe increase his load a little bit on teams.' "
Part of the success the Bears enjoyed under Toub and Tabor was the result of utilizing offensive and defensive starters to play a role on special teams. It was a philosophy that head coach Lovie Smith bought into and a reason the Bears often ranked in the top five in special teams during Toub's tenure from 2004-12.
"You want to be able to have some starters contribute, there's no doubt about it," Tabor said. "When you get to game day, there are only 46 players, so you're already limited. You've got your three specialists, you've got seven offensive linemen (who usually don't play on special teams).
"Depending on how many defensive linemen (who also don't usually play on teams) you have, you really get down to about 23 players you can pick from. Everybody has to be able to contribute."
Tabor said it didn't take much for new Bears head coach Matt Nagy to get him back to Halas Hall.
"It's the Bears," Tabor said. "I don't know if you need to say (more). It gives me goose bumps. This is obviously a storied franchise. It's a great fan base. It's a city that's a great sports town that loves all their sports.
"It's fun when you go to a place where football's important and people are passionate about it. I'm honored and really humbled to be standing here and have this opportunity."
For the past seven years, Tabor was the Cleveland Browns' special-teams coordinator while Nagy was working on Andy Reid's staffs with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. Although they have never worked together, word-of-mouth carries much weight in coaching circles.
"From mutual coaches, people speak so highly of him as a person and obviously as a coach and the success he's had," Nagy said of Tabor. "You're talking about a coach who is succeeding on so many levels and so many different areas in special teams. The numbers are right there year in and year out."
Under Tabor, the Browns were the only team to have a special-teams player of the week at least once a year in six straight seasons (2011-16). Over Tabor's seven seasons, the Browns cumulatively ranked sixth in average kickoff-return yards allowed (21.8), seventh in average punt-return yards (9.9), ninth in total kick-return yards (8,974) and 10th in total kick-return yards allowed (7,627).
"You don't want to show up on Monday and say we lost that game because of special teams," Tabor said. "We want to show up on Monday and say we won because our special teams helped us win."
The Bears' three specialists at the end of the 2017 season -- punter Pat O'Donnell, kicker Mike Nugent and long snapper Andrew DePaola -- are scheduled to become free agents in March.
Tabor is unfazed by any likely turnover.
"Not nervous at all," he said. "I worked for four head coaches, five general managers and two owners (in seven years with the Browns). There was a lot of turnover, and with that the rosters always changed.
"As a coach you have to be able to adapt. Adapt or die. The dinosaurs couldn't figure it out, and they became extinct. Coaches, if they don't figure it out, they get fired.
"So we'll adapt, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of it."
• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.