Josh Cribbs looks to electrify next generation of Browns returners

Former Browns Pro Bowl returner serving as special teams coaching intern

Daryl Ruiter
June 14, 2018 - 6:55 pm
Browns special teams coaching intern and former Pro Bowl returner Josh Cribbs yells out instructions during the team's June 2018 minicamp.

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – For 8 seasons Josh Cribbs electrified Browns fans returning kicks.

Now he’s teaching the next generation of players how to do it.

“I love it. I absolutely love it,” Cribbs said Thursday.

Cribbs has taken on a new role with the Browns, as a coaching intern.

“A lot of coaches and people were worried about ex-players coming in and worrying about the hours and all of the hours that you put in, I absolutely love it. My coach has to send me home,” Cribbs said. “My wife sends me back here. I love it. That was my biggest fear. Maybe that part will wear off, but it hasn’t yet. I am just excited to be back here on the field. It is filling that void of not playing. I feel like I am playing out there with the guys.

“It has been an exciting experience and I am learning so much. I’ve been able to pass a lot of knowledge down.”

Cribbs, was signed by the Browns in 2005 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State, holds 11 franchise records: career punt return yards, punt return yards in a game, punt return yardage in a season, career kickoff return yards, kickoff returns yards in a single season, kickoff returns in a single season, kickoff return yards in a game, career kickoff returns for touchdowns, kickoff returns for touchdowns in a game, kickoff return average in a game and total kick and punt return yardage.

A 3-time Pro Bowl selection, Cribbs is tied for the NFL career record with 8 kickoff returns for touchdowns. He is also the only player in NFL history to return a pair of kickoffs over 100 yards for a touchdown in a single game, which came during a 41-34 win at Kansas City in 2009.

Cribbs’ 13,488 career return yards is tied for third all-time in league history and he was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

Although he’s been retired since 2015, Cribbs can’t get his love for the Browns out of his system.

Cribbs only enjoyed 1 winning season in his 8 in Cleveland. The Browns were 43-85 during his distinguished career but the last 3 seasons and the 4-44 mark has been painful for him to watch from afar.

“I get offended being out there and people are talking bad about us. It is dear to my heart,” Cribbs said.

Now he hopes he’ll be able to make an impact for the franchise on the field again.

During practices Cribbs can be seen pointing players in the right direction or yelling instructions to them during drills and even demonstrating for them fundamentals and mechanics that come not just with returning kicks and punts but being a gunner as well.

“Being able to see your knowledge come out of other players is an awesome feeling,” Cribbs said.

Special teams coordinator Amos Jones felt adding Cribbs to his staff was a no-brainer, and it is already paying dividends.

“He’s a legend,” Jones said. “He invented a drill for us this spring, and I do not know if I was more excited about it or he was because we call it the, ‘Cribbs Drill.’ It was a tackling drill. It was not even a return drill.

“He has done a great job. He has come to work every day with enthusiasm, just like he did when he played. Just really excited about his growth and progress to this point. I think he has got a great future in him, I really do. He wants to do it. His wife probably wanted to get him out of the house anyway.”

While Cribbs found playing in the NFL – especially with the Browns – rewarding, he admitted that he’s seeking something to fill the void with his playing days long behind him.

“My knees tell me that playing is out of my system,” Cribbs joked. “The joy I get out of coaching now is, I feel that feeling like I did when I played.

“I still put my cleats on and let the players know I still got it, but as a coach now.”

Cribbs has a burning desire to remain in football, and he even considered a career in scouting as he was contemplating his next move.

“I was going into scouting for fear of saying, ‘coaches have a cut-throat situation just like players do,’” Cribbs said. “They can get cut and released just like players. It was that fear that wanted me to go into scouting, but I forgot that it was the fear of being cut that made me such a good athlete.

“So, I know I have to use that same mentality to coaching. If I’m giving my all to coaching and giving my all to the coaches that are above me, which all of them are, then it’s a good opportunity for me to still be around.”

With him attacking his new role in the same way he attacked playing the game, rest assured, we've not seen the last of Cribbs on a football field and the Browns are better for it.