Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
August 25, 2020
Q: Joe was talking about because of the protocols, it might be hard getting a substitute player in for special teams. Let’s say kicker or punter. Who are your emergency guys? Can Riley kick and Gano punt?
A: Graham Gano was a punter in college. Not only was he a punter, he was an outstanding punter in college. We have protocols in place. We have a lot of great athletes here that can do a bunch of different things. It’s amazing what you will find when you start to look. These guys have been stud athletes their whole lives. We have a plethora of guys that can snap, we have a ton of guys that can kick, we have bunch of guys that can punt. If we ever get caught in a pinch, I don’t think it will be an issue.
Q: Who are some of the well-known guys or some of the guys we don’t know about who might be the guys you put in there?
A: Just know we have a few guys, we have options. Guys are very talented, and they work their tails off. We’ve done a good job as a staff identifying those guys. Just know moving forward if that comes up, we’ll be prepared for it.
Q: Is that something you go through every season, or is that because of the special circumstances of this season? That you are looking under every rock.
A: We always identify guys. A lot of these guys haven’t done some of these skills since high school, so you just never know. You are always looking for back ups in emergency situations. This year more than ever, you want to do a better job of identifying guys and just trying to turn over every rock. See what kind of skills everyone has so we can maximize the roster from the top down and the bottom up.
Q: You lost Cody Core since last time we spoke. What does that mean to your unit?
A: It always hurts to lose a guy like Cody. Love him to death, he was very productive for us. It gives an opportunity for the next guy to come up. See who can step up and take his spot. It’s always the next man up. We have to keep rocking, keep moving forward and we’ll see where we end up.
Q: Some of the guys who might fill the gunner role, David Sills, Alex Bachman, Austin Mack. What kind of skills do those three in particular have that can help you on special teams or that they have shown you so far?
A: Anybody that plays that position is going to show, first, a propensity to be able to run very fast. That’s the key to that position. You have to be able to navigate space in a hurry. All those guys are out there working, they are all doing a good job. We just have to find out throughout the process who can do what and who is going to do well at it, who has the most upside.
Q: When you coached against Joe Judge, special teams coach versus special teams coach, what did he do well as far as being his competitor and how you prepared for him when he was in New England?
A: Joe did a great job of attacking your weakness. He would make you play with your left hand. His guys were super prepared, they always had a veteran group that you knew they weren’t going to make any mistakes. That’s what you knew when you were going against New England, they were going to be disciplined, they were going to play fast because they were going to have a great unit. They weren’t going to make any mistakes, you had to beat them. You knew going against Joe’s units they were always going to be prepared and detailed.
Q: You were talking about Joe and he always talks about smart players. Do you sense even more of an emphasis on having smart players, coaching them smart? You are the only coordinator on this team who is not from the Ivy League. Do you guys talk about your shared experiences and the value of smarts among the coordinators as well.
A: It is extremely important that we understand what’s going on and how we want to implement it. It’s not about what we know and how smart we are. It’s all about what the players know and how you can teach it. To me, that’s the most important thing. It’s getting the information to the players where they can digest the information and then give it back to you. That’s the most important thing. Being able to execute on game day the information that’s being given in the meetings, taking it to the field and being applied during the course of a game.
Q: Do you sense from the two coordinators who are both Ivy Leaguers that they are supposed to be a little different.
A: Absolutely, Jason and PG are very, very sharp men. When you are around them, you get that. When you have conversations with them, you get that. The Ivy League education has definitely jumped off the screen to me.
Q: I don’t think we have talked to you since Graham Gano was added to the roster. What are your thoughts on what Graham brings and being reunited with him again?
A: Graham brings a stability to the position. Obviously, a former Pro Bowl kicker. Just a veteran player in this league. He brings experience, he brings leadership, and he’s a good person. I’m excited to have him here. He’s been really good for our room, even in the short time that he’s been here. Graham is Graham, he’s just a good man. He works his tail off, he’s a professional field goal kicker, that’s what he is. He goes about his business the way he is supposed to and hopefully once we get rolling, he is going to be his old self.
Q: I don’t recall us asking you about Casey Kreiter when you guys signed him in free agency. What does he bring to the position? Obviously, this is a franchise that hasn’t really been looking for a long snapper for a while. What did you like about his game? I know we are not really analyzing him much in the summer. What do you like about him?
A: Casey’s a veteran player, he’s been around, he’s a good man. He works his tail off and he’s exactly what you want in a long snapper. He’s consistent, he does his job and you want to be seen and not heard.
Q: When you guys were out there considering what holes to fill, was he a guy on your list if the front office came to you looking for recommendations?
A: Absolutely, Casey is a solid snapper. He has experience in the league and we just look forward to getting all three of those guys together and becoming the best we can possibly be.
Q: Just going back to Cody Core, you have always had a core group of special teamers. In listening to coach Judge, Jason and Pat, they always talk about mixing and matching guys according to the competition and the opponent that week. Is that something you think you are going to be doing a lot more of with your unit as well this season?
A: We’re always looking to find a way to get an advantage on the opponent. Who knows, this is a new season, a different situation, with COVID and all this stuff, it’s just different. Who knows what the season brings? We’re just going to keep working hard, keep doing what we’re supposed to do. Evaluate the guys that we have, keep trying to get them better. We’ll see where we end up.
Q: From a special teams perspective, does it make sense to have a core group that you run out at the same positions every week? Does it give you an advantage to mix it up a little bit?
A: Any time you can create continuity, that’s what you want. Sometimes you have to make do with what you have. For me as a coach, that’s my job. As Special Teams Coordinator, that’s my job. That’s the essence of my job, to make the gumbo every week. Sometimes it might chicken gumbo, sometimes it might be shrimp gumbo. Whatever I have, that’s what you have to work with. You have to work it out, that’s the process of being the special teams coach in the NFL.
Q: You mentioned before that Joe’s groups were always veteran groups. He is not going to be a guy who is afraid to put veterans and even starters on the field for special teams. He puts a premium on it. What does that mean for you for punt return options? What do you see from those guys, mainly your wide receiver group?
A: We’ve had starters out there before. Last year, we had Jabrill (Peppers), last year we had Golden (Tate). That’s a play making position. You are trying to put guys back there that are going to make plays. To me, that’s no different than the quarterback position, the wide receiver position, the running back position. You are trying to put guys in a position that you want to make plays. The game has come down to primarily punt and punt return to get the most plays during those two. You want to be able to maximize the field position by being able to make plays and put your best players back there.
Q: What do those guys bring you? Specifically Sterling, Golden, Darius.
A: Consistency. Golden was great for us last year, he did a heck of a job fielding the ball and getting the drive started with a first down. When we got a chance to use Jabrill back there, he did a good job for us. That process and using those guys and having access to them is huge.
Q: I don’t think I have seen many live or even half-speed kickoff returns in practice. Is that something that’s concerning because obviously you want to see what you have back there? Is that something we will see more of on Friday at the stadium?
A: You will see more of it moving forward. That’s part of the evaluation process. We want to ramp these guys up, we don’t want to just throw them out there. We are trying to get them into shape, but we want to be smart in how we operate, too.
Q: Do you think the kid Javon Leake from Maryland is an option on kickoff return?
A: We have a bunch of options. We have at least five or six guys that are out there working. He’s definitely one of them, he’s working his tail off. All those guys are out there doing a good job and we just have to see where they end up. We’re going to ramp that up pretty quick.