Matt Nagy continues to get Lovie Smith’s old band back together.
The new Bears coach is bringing back Chris Tabor to be his special teams coordinator, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday night.
Tabor, the Cleveland Browns’ special teams coordinator since 2011, was Smith’s and Dave Toub’s assistant from 2008-10 in Chicago. Tabor and new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who spent five seasons with the Bears on Smith’s staff, are Nagy’s first two hires.
Tabor’s Browns special teams units largely struggled the past two seasons, which hardly is surprising for a team that went 1-15 and 0-16. But from 2014-15, Tabor’s teams finished 17th and 19th, respectively, in the Dallas Morning News’ annual special-teams rankings.
The Bears likely are to be in the market for a kicker, where it’s been a revolving door since franchise scoring leader Robbie Gould’s ill-advised release two offseasons ago. The Bears ranked 29th in field goal efficiency this past season, when three different kickers were used.
But Tabor could inherit a solid young punter in Pat O’Donnell, who set a career high with a 47.0-yard gross average and tied his previous best in net punting (39.7 yards). However, O’Donnell is out of contract, creating a decision for general manager Ryan Pace.
There’s some other young potential core third-phase players on the roster, including safeties DeAndre Houston-Carson and Deon Bush; LB Nick Kwiatkoski; and if Pace chooses to re-sign them, LB Christian Jones and veteran stalwart CB Sherrick McManis.
Easily the best weapon Tabor inherits upon his return to Chicago is Pro Bowl punt returner Tarik Cohen, who as a rookie, averaged 9.4 yards a return, including a 61-yard touchdown.
Tabor replaces Jeff Rodgers, who had been on John Fox’s staff since 2016.