Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
October 30, 2020
Q: Bringing Corey Coleman back, I know he’s on the practice squad right now. What can he add as a returner?
A: Corey has great speed. He’s had game experience. He’s coming back trying to get his feet wet and happy to have him back in the building.
Q: That play against Philly where you ran the punt team on and obviously Corey Ballentine didn’t recognize there was nobody across from him. What happened on that play? Is that what you were expecting to happen, hoping to happen? What kind of went wrong?
A: A bunch of things went wrong. It’s a learning experience for everybody around. Obviously, when we do things like that, you just never know how the teams will react. I have to do a better job of getting everybody prepared and understand the potential of the situation. It is what it is, a good learning experience. We’ll be ready next time.
Q: On the subject of returner, just wondering how you think Corey Ballentine is doing as the kick returner and if you’re getting enough out of that position? That’s a position in recent years here you guys have gotten some jump out of. It hasn’t happened yet this year.
A: I think with the offseason and the way everything is set up, the limited amount of returns that you’re getting in a game, the game speed. Having a brand new group, guys that haven’t played together, just understanding how to use their leverage. All the blocking that’s involved. When Corey was back there returning kicks, he was returning them, he wasn’t doing all the blocking. We had a pretty good group that was in front of him that was blocking the last couple of years. Just some timing, I think it’s more the timing, the spacing, and just getting used to the whole aspect of a play. There’s a lot moving parts in kickoff return. We’re just trying to make sure we get it coached up better. Execute the techniques better up front. I think the back end, that stuff will come. With Corey and whoever is back there returning kicks, I think once we clean up all the stuff in front of him, that we’ll have better results.
Q: The illegal targeting penalty on Corey Ballentine late in Philly. I know he’s moving quickly, the guy is ducking. Is it just simply, he’s not coached to tackle that way, he has to be better? Is that a fast play that’s hard to avoid.
A: It’s a bang-bang play, he’s got to keep his head up. Anytime now, it’s all about optics. If it looks bad, then they are going to call it. You can throw out all of the technical terms. Well, he launched or he did that, that’s all BS. If it looks bad, they’re going to throw the flag. He just has to understand when he enters into the contact area, that his eyes have to be up. To me, that’s just the bottom line.
Q: I know he’s not on the injury report this week, but it looked like last week Graham Gano tweaked something in his leg. I’m just wondering, did you see him maybe change up his kicking motion a little bi?. It looked like on his kickoffs in particular, he might’ve been off a little bit.
A: Graham was doing exactly what we wanted him to do. Graham is fine. He’s a veteran guy, he knows how to take care of his body. He’ll be out there rolling just like he normally does.
Q: With all the injuries at linebacker, how much is that causing you to juggle on specials? Are you just throwing out the same guys?
A: It’s always a juggling fest with the job. Like I told you guys before, we’re the cookers of the gumbo. Each week it’s a little bit different. We just make those midstream adjustments. As the season goes on, you’re going to have injuries. You just have to make sure you’re preparing guys daily and weekly for those opportunities. In my meeting room, we have basically this slide, it starts the meeting off and it just says, ‘Stay Ready’. That’s just the reality of it. That’s our business, everybody has to stay ready, from the coaches to the players. They have to be prepared once your name is called.