Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
September 24, 2020
Q: I wanted to ask you about something that didn’t happen in one of your games. In the Dallas-Atlanta game the other day, where it kind of looked like some Atlanta players didn’t kind of know the rule, do you use those plays with your guys as teachable moments? At some point, do you have to trust that the guys you are putting out there know the rules that you can’t cover.
A: You never assume, right? You know what they say when you assume, right? We go through those situations all the time. Matter of fact, last Friday we were out going through some hands and onside situations, that very thing came up and we talked about it between Golden Tate and a couple other guys on the front line. Those are things that you are constantly coaching, those are things that you are constantly trying to make sure that you never, ever put yourself in a position where that ‘I’ is not dotted and that ‘T’ is not crossed.
Q: At some point though ,do you have to trust that some of the guys know the rules?
A: Yeah. It’s easy to say just trust them, but you have to teach it to them and they have to know it. Then they have to go execute. When the pressure is applied, what’s in you will come out. You have to make sure they are full of the right stuff so when the pressure is applied, it comes out correctly.
Q: I’m sure it killed you that that one punt wasn’t downed inside the one. What makes Riley Dixon so good at really pinning those punts deep like that?
A: Repetition, he works at it. There’s no substitute for success. That comes through hard work and that kid has been working his tail off. He’s been doing it for a long time. That’s something that we’re doing a lot of. We have to do a better job of making sure that we can take advantage of that skill set. That’s something that we’re working at. We have some new guys in that position. Not having a spring and not really being able to fine tune it, this is an area of our game we really have to improve in. It starts with the guy that’s sitting right here. We have to make sure that we get these guys ready and we can take advantage of the 25 yards that we lost the other day on that one play, that’s big. Over the course of the game, losing that kind of field position, it’s unacceptable and you can’t do it.
Q: On that punt, how do you punt the ball 60 yards and have it checkup like it’s a sand wedge? Is that something with technique? How do you do that?
A: You have to ask Riley that. He has a really unique skill set and he’s very confident in himself. He knows what he’s doing and how to do it.
Q: What do you think of some of the young guys’ performance on special teams or new guys I should say, too? Guys like C.J. Board and also through the first couple of weeks Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin. How do you think some of the new guys have acclimated and played.
A: They’re all working hard. They’re trying to figure it out. It’s like everybody else, this is the first time some of these guys have ever done this. It’s the first time they have ever done it on this level. It’s no different than when you try to do anything else for the first time, something new. There’s some things they have to learn. There’s been some really good things that we have seen on tape. Each one of those guys individually has to work on the individual skill set and just understand the nuances of the positions that they’re playing and who they are playing against. They will keep getting better every week and that’s our mantra in our room. (Inaudible) The act of continuous improvement. We’re always trying to find ways to get the old guys and the young guys better.
Q: If guys struggle early or whatever, would you rather turn it over on a certain unit until you find the right matchup? Or would you rather live with some young mistakes to build consistency with a group, like say on kick return?
A: The thing about it is, it’s a complete maturation process of the whole unit. This is a brand new unit, this is a brand new year. We have to understand that it’s going to take time, it’s a process. Throughout the process, you are going to find out who’s who. Who can do what and there are going to be some guys who rise in the process and they are going to be some guys that phase themselves out in the process. That’s the one thing we have to do, just stick to the process. The process is what it is. When we’re on the other side of it, we’ll see who’s doing what and see how much success we can have.
Q: This is kind of a simple one. Graham Gano went out there for the 57-yarder and I assume it was within his range. Did he mishit that or what?
A: He just missed it, just a little deep on his plant. Not deep enough on his plant, that happens. 50-yard field goals are right around 55, 65 percent for most pro kickers. That’s just part of it. Sometimes you hit them, sometimes you don’t. For Graham, that’s well within his range and he should’ve made it, and he would tell you the same thing.
Q: It looks like Jabrill Peppers is on the verge, is that the way you see it? What is the next step, how do you get to that point?
A: Just working on our individual techniques at the line of scrimmage, especially when it comes to punt return. Then just finishing at the point of attack. That’s the thing. We have to get better at the line so we can be cleaner and then we can have better technique down the field. Once we get to the point where we’re finishing at the point of attack, Jabrill’s natural instincts and ball skills and open field run skills take over. That’s the part we have to get to, and we’ll get there eventually. Again, it’s a process.
Q: You think you’re close?
A: Yeah, I do. Any time that guy has the ball in his hands, he has the ability to make a play. We just have to understand as a punt return unit, the guy we got can make plays. We just have to make sure we do our job as individuals to make sure we contribute to him making that play.