Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey -- October 24, 2019
Q: So, you challenged Mike Thomas?
A: Yeah, a little bit. And like Mike T, he always accepted the challenge. He just kind of gave me a little dig a little bit, but he made a good play. It was just a simple little rush that we did, it was really a hold up and we rushed the two inside guys to try and draw the PP (personal protector) in the center, someone to block him, and they got stuck. Mike T made a play. That’s what Pro Bowlers do. He did a great job.
Q: Was he supposed to rush all the way?
A: He was supposed to hold up the personal protector, but he got hung up on the rush by Eli (Penny) in the other A-gap, and he just went through and blocked it. Pretty simple.
Q: Why did you think that was the juncture to challenge Mike?
A: As a group, we were kind of struggling a little bit as far as just who are we as a group, our identity. There’s been a lot of turnover, a bunch of different guys. The guys we had in the spring, there’s not a lot of the same guys, a bunch of different guys. So, not so much challenge Mike T, but just challenge the room. We’ve played at a certain level here when it comes to special teams, and I wanted the room to understand that this is the level that we play at, we play here. Regardless of who is in the game, we’re not making excuses like ‘This guy is here,’ or ‘This new guy is here,’ or ‘We’ve got three new guys here,’ ‘We’re rotating,’ ‘We’ve got to set up a new punt team.’ There’s no excuse. Nobody cares. Literally, nobody cares and there’s no help coming, so let’s go. So, that was kind of the message to the room.
Q: You can only play that card so often though, right? You have to pick your spot?
A: Yeah, absolutely. This is pro football, you’ve got a job to do. I shouldn’t have to do a whole lot of prompting to make sure that you do your job. There’s enough that comes with this job, especially where we are in the market that we’re in that you should be super, super ready to go. It shouldn’t be one of those deals where it’s like—it’s your job, it’s pro football. We’re not playing Furman this week. This is pro football.
Q: What happened on the missed field goal?
A: Aldrick (Rosas) just got a little fast, and he just pushed it. Just one of those deals. He hasn’t had a whole lot of attempts this year. He’s only got six on the year, so we’re still trying to find that good, solid rhythm, game rhythm, and when you don’t have the attempts like that, it just takes some time.
Q: Four for six is not great—is he better mentally prepared to handle that this year than maybe he would have been last year?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Having the year that he had last year gave him a lot of confidence. So, he understands now more than ever the issues that he has, and to be able to self-correct and make those adjustments on the sideline, knowing watching the ball flight, okay the ball did this, so it’s normally this. Or the ball did this, and it’s normally this. So, he knows the fixes.
Q: Does that give you more confidence in him?
A: Absolutely. I have full confidence in Aldrick and his abilities and what he can do. He’s a young kid with a ton of upside, and hopefully he can do this for the next 20 years.
Q: When you mention the standard of playing up here, is that related specifically to when you come off the New England game and you guys give up points on special teams, are you reaffirming that you’re not just trying to do your jobs, you’re trying to put points on the board?
A: Absolutely. This outfit is not a transition outfit from offense to defense. We’re trying to impact the game in a positive way, and if we can make an explosive play, that’s what we want to do as a unit. It’s just not, ‘Okay, we’re going to punt the ball.’ No, we’re going to try and punt the ball and go down and try to tackle it and knock it out and make a play. The mentality is not a transition mentality, it’s a play making mentality. We want guys in the room to understand that.
Q: Some guys said they took it personal that special teams in their eyes sort of slipped a little bit in recent weeks, and that last week that was a thing with them. What did you notice?
A: Yeah, I took it personal, too. Like we were talking about earlier, we personally challenged them. This is our job, this is what we do, and what you put on tape is who you are. So, it’s not something to take lightly. When you, quite frankly, get your ass kicked, it should be personal. So, that’s one thing that as a coach, and then the leaders in the room, the Mike Ts of the world, the Zaks (DeOssie), those guys, you’ve got to take this personal, because this is our jobs, it’s how we feed our families, this is how things get done in our homes. I tell them all the time, we all touch each other’s money. So, what I do affects them, what they do affects me. So, if we have to watch a little bit more tape, if I have to stay at the office another hour or two and watch more tape and do a little bit more studying and make sure that we know all the little nuances of what the opponent is supposed to do, we have to do that if we call ourselves pros.
Q: How did you think Darius (Slayton) looked at kick returner?
A: Like a guy who’s never done it before. He’s a young kid, but every rep he’s getting better. Like in practice, every rep he’s getting better, and he has to just get the reps in.
Q: What was your take on whether he should have taken that kick out or not?
A: Coach (Shurmur) wants to be aggressive, and that’s the whole thing. Like we just talked about, our whole mentality is an aggressive mentality. I tell our guys all the time, we err on the side of being aggressive. That’s our mantra as a group and as a unit. We’re not going to shy away from anything, we’re going to play fast, we’re going to play physical, we’re going to try to make a play.
Q: Does the situation there factor into it for you, or do you still want to be aggressive?
A: Everything is situational. But at the time, we wanted to be aggressive.