The Panthers have hired Chris Tabor to be their special teams coordinator. He brings 14 years of NFL experience with him, starting in 2008 with the Chicago Bears, where he served as an assistant to legendary special teams coach Dave Toub.
– Browns ST coordinator from ’11-’17.
– From ’11-’16, the Browns were the only team in the NFL to have a player voted as AFC Special Teams Player of the Week at least one time each season.
– Served with FOUR DIFFERENT HEAD COACHES in Cleveland (I’ll touch on this later in the review).
– Most recently served as Chicago’s ST coordinator, from 2018-2021, and was the interim HC during the Bears’ week nine game against San Francisco. Chicago had a 4th quarter lead, but the 49ers would rally to win 33-22.
– In 2001, he was a head coach for one season at Culver-Stockton, which is an NAIA school. The NAIA, for anyone who didn’t know, is essentially one level above JUCO and one level below NCAA D3. He led C-S to their first winning season in 15 years. This success led to his first major collegiate job, the assistant HC at Utah State, where he served from 2002 to 2005.
-In 2006, he landed his first ST coordinator job at Western Michigan, where he served for two years, until his initial stint with the Chicago Bears.
So this is a fairly extensive look into Tabor’s resume. Is this a good hire by Matt Rhule?
I think it’s a GREAT hire.
This guy is regarded as one of the best special teams coaches in all of football, and guess what? SPECIAL TEAMS STILL MATTER. I mean, have you watched the playoffs this year? If you have, then you know this is true. Also, when you think about it, special teams coaches have a tremendous amount of influence over a football team. Aside from the quarterbacks and two or three other players on the roster, everyone on an NFL team plays special teams. It’s no accident that these coaches often serve as the interim head coach. In a world that made sense, more of these guys would get head coaching opportunities, but they don’t because all of the screen time goes to the offensive and defensive coordinators.
Tabor is a huge asset to the Panthers. While Matt Rhule may not be for long, and used car salesman Ben McAdoo will likely be a one and done coach, this guy could be around for a decade. As I mentioned, he made it through four different regimes in Cleveland because his units were consistently elite. So if the Panthers ever become a playoff regular again (AKA, they hit the QB jackpot), one phase of the team will be set, and could help swing the outcomes of close postseason games.
Great move, Matt. Always give credit when credit is due.