Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey -- December 12, 2019
Q: Is Riley (Dixon) going to buy dinner for the special teams this week?
A: He better (laughter). That kid, I’m happy for him. I really am. He deserved everything that he’s getting. He’s been working hard and he’s got a bright future. He has a few dinners ahead of him, too.
Q: Have you seen him take a leap a little bit this year?
A: Definitely. He’s a lot more consistent in his ball striking. It’s night and day from last year. Like I told you guys a couple weeks ago, he’s just growing. You can see him maturing and just doing the things that he needs to do to take his game to the next level.
Q: Like what? How did he do it? Why do you think it just clicked for him?
A: It happens. I mean, as young players, it takes time. Everybody, we live in a freaking microwave society and everybody wants everything right now. It just doesn’t happen like that. Most specialists get cut seven, eight times before they figure out who they are. But, he just worked at it, at his craft, this offseason and just studying himself and just watching other guys that are very similar to him and just trying to go through that process. And it’s just the mundane stuff, the drills, catching and molding the ball, the steps, and then looking at tape and just grinding over the tape, and just over, and over, and over stuff that’s like watching paint dry to most of you guys. But, that’s the kind of stuff that specialists, those are the things that you have to do to take that next step that he’s done.
Q: Are you saying we don’t like watching special teams?
A: No, you guys know you don’t like it (laughter).
Q: Are the Dolphins taking more risks on special teams than anybody in the league right now?
A: I think they’re being aggressive. When you get a team like that in the position that they’re in, I guess they’re saying, ‘Why not? If we can steal a possession, let’s get it. Maybe it can help us score more points and win a game.’
Q: Are you guys in that position?
A: Right now, we’re in the position that we’re in. We’ve got to be aggressive and try to win games also.
Q: What did you think when you saw the kicker passing to the punter?
A: It was a unique play. The play design was pretty unique. Swinging gate, out of the swinging gate, good gracious, you could chase ghosts all day long with that thing. You’ve just got to be prepared and sound and just react when they come out and they do it. Being in college, you see it all the time. I was a high school coach, you see it all the time. So, you’ve just got to plan and prepare for it.
Q: Do you ever think about something like that? The holder actually caught the pass, right? Has something like that ever crossed your mind really?
A: We’re special teams coaches, we think of everything. So, I promise you, if I go back and take you into looks in some of my notebooks and some of the stuff I’ve drawn up over the years, it’s crazy. And we’re all built the same way, so we’ve all got a bunch of tricks up our sleeves.
Q: Did you almost, being a special teams coach, tip your hat to him that he had the guts to call it?
A: Hey, congratulations to Brian Flores because he makes the call. Sometimes you’ve got to get creative.
Q: Is there any advantage to bringing in a left-footed punter for the week?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Any time you can get the spin off the foot, it’s definitely an advantage. And any time our guys can get that live look, you’d like to get it.
Q: How’s Colin (Holba) doing?
A: He’s doing good, he’s doing well. He’s in here working at it, and there are some things that he needs to work at and we’re working on those things. He’s doing a good job. He’s fit in really well, he’s a good kid, he works hard, and we look forward for him getting better every single week.
Q: Is that a bit of a new trend in the league do you think, guys coming in as dedicated long snappers, not linebackers or tight ends who can snap?
A: Yeah, it’s been like that for a minute. Those guys, the time that they spend together is valuable. That process, that operation, I think a lot of times the normal person, they take it for granted, ‘Oh, it’s just a snap.’ No, it’s a lot of things that go into it. The more time those three spend together, the better they get.
Q: Your coverage units, you look at whomever is putting together the rankings, the coverage units are right up there at the top of the league. Is it the growth that you’ve had or the continuation that you’ve had from last year? Is it in part the trend in the league where we’re not seeing the returns the way they used to be five years ago? How do you assess it when you take a step back?
A: I think it’s a little bit of both. Normally, during the course of a year, I know kind of back in the day, especially here, you returned every—I mean, you covered every kick. That’s just the way it was. The ball was kicked from the 30-yard line, it’s cold, and the ball wouldn’t fly out of the back of the end zone as often, so all the balls were in the field of play. But now it’s not like that, you get a lot more touchbacks. But as far as punts are concerned, it’s the same stuff. It’s just guys playing fast, being physical, being disciplined, and just playing aggressive.
Q: Who’s your punt returner for Sunday?
A: We’ll have two punt returners, same two guys that were back there last week, Da’Mari (Scott) and Golden (Tate III). Those two guys will play.