Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
December 3, 2020
Opening Statement: Between the last time we talked to now, we lost a good friend here in the organization, Markus Paul. I’d just like to say he was a great man. He was a great friend, a great human being. We’re going to miss him. Before we get started. Alright guys.
Q: About that fake punt. just x’s and o’s wise, I don’t know for sure but is Isaac Yiadom supposed to peak into the backfield on that play or is he supposed to just follow that man down field?
A: No. We didn’t set the edge. We had a guy on the personal protector, and we let him get outside of us. It was a minimal gain, but nonetheless, they got it on us. But no, we practice it. Carter (Coughlin) just has to set the edge. He knows that, we reviewed it, we’ve gone over it. We just need to do a better job of just understanding the situation. Where we are on the field, who we’re going against at that point in time in the game. Just situationally, understanding that we have a cornered animal, and at any point in time, they can do something to us. We just need to be better there situationally.
Q: Is Nate Ebner so critical that, I think that was the first kickoff or punt that he’s missed all season, and it goes back. Is that a direct correlation between one of the leaders of your unit not being on the field and that result?
A: Anytime you lose a player like Nate, Nate does a lot of heavy lifting for us. It’s not just all on him. He’s not superman. It takes all 11 guys doing their jobs. On that play, we didn’t have all 11 doing their jobs. We just have to make sure that we start with the guy that’s sitting in this seat, and then everybody else has to do their job.
Q: What did you see on the one play where maybe 10 guys didn’t do their job, but Cam Brown was able to reach out and grab that guy’s foot and really save the game at the end?
A: We missed a lot of tackles. That’s what it is. Again, guys not doing their jobs. We just have to make sure that we’re better at our individual jobs. It starts with the kick. We have to protect, and then we have to make sure that we get good direction on the kick. We can’t kick it 60 yards down the middle of the field. Riley (Dixon) knows that. It all starts with him. Then we have to make tackles. When we get down there, get the returner in front of us. We knew who we were going against. He’s one of the best returners in the league. Just have to get him on the ground. That’s it. It’s not rocket science. It’s football. Just get the guy on the ground. Vice tackle, make the tackle.
Q: What have your meetings been like this week? That was probably, I think you would agree, probably the least productive game of the season for you guys. Coverage wise, anyway.
A: Yeah, of my career. Meetings have been meetings. They’re business as usual. We have to get better, and that’s the bottom line. I can go in there and raise hell and throw stuff across the room, but it’s not going to change what happened. Moving forward, we have to be better. Technically, we have to be better. Schematically, we have to be better. We have to do some things differently to make sure that we’re optimizing who we are as a coverage unit.
Q: Hate to stay negative, but what exactly happened on the kickoff return? (Graham) Gano talked about maybe kicking it down the middle, he didn’t want that spot. What exactly happened there?
A: That’s what happened. You can’t kick the ball down the middle of the field to one of the best kickoff returners in the league. That’s not what we do anyway. We don’t kick the ball down the middle of the field. We’re a directional kicking team. Again, it starts with guys doing their jobs. Probably put Graham in a bad spot asking him to do something he hadn’t done in three or four days. Being out with the COVID, you just never know how guys will come back and react to it. Looking back at it, probably should have done some things differently, as far as the call schematically on my end. But you live and you learn. Everyone is learning during this COVID environment we’re in. When guys come back off of it, it’s a little different.
Q: I wanted to kind of jump off of that point. With Graham coming off the COVID, did that affect him as far as his range? Did you see it actually affect him in the game?
A: You see it affect all of these guys. It’s just different when they come back. It takes them a few days to get back to who they normally are. I don’t know what it does to them, maybe lose a little strength or something. I know sometimes if you’re sitting up in a hotel room for three or four days and you don’t do anything, you get a little rusty. I’m sure that probably happened to Graham. They’re like anybody else. They have to stay in a rhythm. If you lose any strength, it’ll show up. Kickers are no different than any other player. Again, moving forward, we just have to be smart with how we handle these guys coming off.
Q: With Jabrill (Peppers), does he need to fair catch some of these balls that he’s letting bounce?
A: What ones are you referring to?
Q: There was one where he pointed and the ball bounced and they got a good roll out of it. Would you rather see him just catch that?
A: Anytime you get a chance to field the ball, you want to field it. But if it’s a situation where he doesn’t feel comfortable fielding the ball, I’m never going to question that. If he feels like something is happening in front of him or maybe the ball might have moved on him in the last second, we trust that guy back there. That’s why he’s back there, because he’s going to make good decisions and we trust him.
Q: Is Joe Webb in here to visit as a kick returner and a punt returner?
A: Joe is here to be a football player. Whenever Joe is going to be here, Joe is a Swiss Army knife. Joe can do a little bit of everything. He’s the perfect guy I would say to come in in this COVID environment, because he can do so many different jobs. Not to say that Joe’s the end all be all, but when you get a guy that has that type of versatility and position flex, you can play him at a bunch of different spots and he can fill some holes for you.