Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
October 15, 2020
Q: Would you be able to tell us kind of what happened on the fake field goal where it seemed like most of the execution was spot on, but something went wrong?
A: It was a few things that went wrong. But ultimately, at the end of the day, we didn’t get it done. That’s the disappointing part of it. When you get a chance to make a play like that, you have to execute the play. That’s really disappointing.
Q: Was it something about how Cam (Fleming) was communicating to the rest of the line that he was set?
A: No, no. It was a bunch of different things. But at the end of the day, we all have to get up there and get set. That’s the most important thing. Get up there and get set, and we didn’t. They threw the flag and it cost us a touchdown.
Q: A few things. Just to follow up, how good of a job did Evan Engram do faking everybody out that he was coming off the sideline?
A: Pretty good. He’s pretty good. He’s going to get an Academy Award for that. No, he did a good job of setting himself up. He really did.
Q: What is Graham Gano’s range at this point? Could you put him out there for 60 at this point? It seems like, I think he became the first Giants kicker ever with three 50+ yarders in a game.
A: In ideal situations, you can put him out there. Obviously, a couple years ago he hit a 62-yarder to beat us when he was in Carolina. The guy is very talented. He has an extremely strong leg. He has a lot left in the tank.
Q: Is part of the frustration from the fake field goal that you kind of burned it? Because I’m sure every team now is certainly going to be on guard.
A: Yeah, a lot of that. Plays like that, you don’t want to have very many… It’s a one and done type of deal. You probably have to put it in the bank for about another year and a half before you can break it out. It is what it is.
Q: Then on the other side, how do you, if some team was trying to do that to you, is someone responsible to count 11 guys? How are you supposed to be on guard for something like that?
A: Yeah, it’s just checking the sideline every time. Every time you do a field goal, a field goal block situation, you always check the sideline.
Q: In the past, players have described playing on special teams as ‘organized chaos.’ I’m just wondering, what is it about playing special teams that helps a young defensive player kind of take that next step and get ready to play on defense?
A: That’s a great question. They get a chance to play in space, to be able to run full speed and negotiate space. That’s probably the hardest skill to have as a football player, to be able to negotiate space, and to be able to take on blockers full speed, to be able to be disciplined and understanding leverage and angles and all of the base fundamentals that you need to be a good offensive and defensive player. All of those attributes and all of those skills are developed on special teams daily. You have a frontline blocker on kickoff return, you have to be able to bend your knees, play with leverage, get your eyes in the right spot. As a protector on punts, you have to keep your pad level down. You need to make sure you get depth off the ball. You have to understand schemes and concepts. As a punt returning guy, you have to be physical at the line of scrimmage. You have to play with great leverage, knee bend, hat placement, hands. All of those things, those basic core fundamentals that you have to have as a defensive or offensive player, all of those skills are being honed as you play on special teams.
Q: Then if I can just follow-up, does that tend to benefit more the defensive players or the offensive players? Because I notice you’re using offensive linemen and they’re basically doing the same role. They’re lining up, they’re being protectors. Is it more of a benefit to defensive players?
A: I think it’s a benefit to all players because they just learn how to play the game, the basic fundamentals of the game. Just learning how, like I just said, just playing with great knee bend, being in a proper position, just understanding schematics and what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to accomplish, whether you are an offensive or defensive player. Again, just those overall fundamental football skills, because I have to block as an offensive player. I have to defeat a block as a defensive player. Just understanding why a guy would attack me in a certain situation, and just understanding both sides of it. When I get a chance as a blocker on the frontline of the kickoff return, I’ve been on the other side where I’ve covered. Now, I understand what he’s trying to do to me.
Q: Did you expect Graham Gano to be as consistent as he has been so far this year coming off of a year without playing?
A: Every time I’ve had Graham, he’s been the same way. When I had him in Carolina, I want to say the first year, he missed a couple, maybe three or four, maybe five, kicks that he should have made and that he had made in the previous years. I think that might have been the outlier. But the next year, I want to say he was 94 percent, 93 percent, went to the Pro Bowl. That’s kind of what I expect from Graham. He’s super consistent in how he prepares and what he does in his daily routine, so it just manifests itself on the field.
Q: Last year, you obviously had a different kicker. I think you tried only one 50-yarder last year. Has the kicker changed that philosophy or did the coaching staff change that philosophy?
A: The coaching staff changed that philosophy. I think it was more of having confidence in Graham. It’s not like we didn’t have confidence in Aldrick (Rosas) because we did. But just having confidence in Graham and just knowing that he’s been there and he’s done it, take the points.
Q: I’m curious, when you have a play like that with Evan Engram, obviously, he’s on the field on offense at that time. You can’t tell him in the moment, ‘ok, we’re doing it now.’ At what point do you have to say ‘ok, we might use this here’? Is it before the game? Is it in the middle of the drive? How does that work?
A: It’s just kind of a feel thing. Just understanding what moment that you’re in, understanding the flow of the game and the situation. Then as a coach, we play through those situations and scenarios all the time. We understand that there are certain times in a game, just how the game is flowing, depending on the score, depending on just the situation, when to make the call.
Q: So, he knew before the game that you were going to use that and it was his job to sort of know when it would make sense during the game?
A: We have ways of communicating it.
Q: Also, we heard a lot of people say Cam Brown’s been a huge contributor on special teams, he’s done a really good job. What makes him a good special teams player?
A: Cam is smart, first of all. He’s 6-foot-5, he’s 235, 240 pounds and he can run like a deer. He has great length and speed, he’s smart, he’s physical. He’s very physical. He plays every snap full speed. He is wide open every single time down the field. He’s a high-energy kid, he loves football, and he wants to learn. Those things, those attributes, just having that size and length and being physical. Then couple it with being able to run like he can, that’s just God-given.
Q: You just answered most of my question about Cam Brown. In terms of in the past, I remember you always saying when you get a young defensive player, there was a time in the season when he was with you that you kind of knew, ‘you know what, he’s probably not going to be with me much longer.’ Does Cam Brown fall into that realm? If not, just in general, how do you know?
A: You know, and it’s coming. He is what he is. He’s a big, strong, physical kid who has a special skillset. I think the more plays he makes, the more confident he’ll get. The game will slow down for him. Once the game starts to slow down for him, it’s already starting to slow down on special teams. Once it starts to slow down on defense, I think the sky is the limit for the kid. The kid has a big upside. He’s a good kid and he works his tail off. I tell him all the time, I think he has $7 million walking around inside of him. It’s up to him to tap it.
Q: Just a last quick one. Joe (Judge) said even though if a guy emerges on specials and then needs to be used, either on defense or offense, he has no problem keeping him. He won’t take him away from you. Is the philosophy different from maybe what you’ve had in the past?
A: When I was here with Coach (Tom) Coughlin, he was the same way. Coach Coughlin had the same philosophy. I’ve been in other places where it’s been, ‘no, that guy is not playing on special teams anymore.’ I’ve been on both sides of it. But when you look at Joe and his past and where he’s come from, Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel were the wings on the punt team when we played them in the Super Bowl. That’s always going to be, you’re going to play your best players, and that’s what we’re doing here.