Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
December 10, 2020
Q: Graham Gano obviously was making field goal after field goal. Did that show you a little something, that he came back and hit a key pretty long-distance field goal after missing an extra point?
A: Graham is a professional. Our mantra in our room is one snap and clear, good or bad, if it was a 65-yard NFL field goal record or a missed extra point. You come back. The most important snap is the next snap, so it doesn’t shock me at all with Graham.
Q: I wanted to ask about when you guys signed Gano. There was all that craziness, you had Rosas and then you had (Chandler) Catanzaro for a week. Did you have to do homework into Gano? What kind of research did you do to make sure he could perform at a Pro Bowl level like he has? Has he caught you a little bit by surprise?
A: It doesn’t catch me by surprise. I had him last time he went to the Pro Bowl. The process of him coming into the building, just working out, seeing video of him working out, all those different things. That’s part of it. Talking to him, just understanding who he is and what he is and having a past with him. That whole thing was a pretty easy decision for me. It was more of a decision on his part than our part. Just kind of picking the team he wanted to go to. Graham has been awesome. He’s done a heck of a job obviously since he’s been here. We look forward to more success from him.
Q: It’s been a rough few weeks for the special teams, I’ll let you object to that if you’d like. This past week it was the punt unit. How do you go about making sure it’s fixed going forward?
A: That’s our job as coaches. Our mantra in our room is “kaizen” and that’s the act of continuous improvement. We’re not making excuses, we’re just going to make adjustments. That’s the thing, it’s all about trying to get better. It’s all about fine tuning the little details and that’s the same thing I told the players. It ain’t what you’re going through, it’s what you’re growing through. This is a growth process for us as a team. It’s a maturation process for us as a group and as a unit. When you hit hard times, you hit some rough times, how are you going to bounce back? What are you going to do? I use the phrase that I used when I was growing up, are you going to box or throw rocks? What are you going to do? You get hit in the mouth, you get hit in the chin, you get hit in the gut, how are you going to react to it? That’s what we’re finding out right now as a group and as a unit. How we’re going to react to getting a gut punch. We’ve been rocking right along pretty solid and all of the sudden you get hit with a right hook under your chin. What are you going to do? Your eyes start watering a little bit, you tear up. Are you going to fall and hit the ground and tap out, or get up and keep fighting? That’s our whole thing. We’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep working every day. We’re going to go out today, we’re going to work to get better. We’re in meetings this morning, we’re working to get better. That’s the thing. The act of continued improvement and that’s what we believe in and that’s the process of what we’re going through.
Q: How much have you changed the process?
A: The process is the process. You have to go through it, to get to it. Whatever it is, that’s what you want to get to. We have to begin with the end in mind. We have to understand, what’s the end goal? You want it to go like that, but sometimes it’s going to go like this and sometimes it’s going to go like that. How are you going to react during those times? That’s what we’re finding out about ourselves right now.
Q: As you’ve gotten to know Pat Graham, I’m curious how you look at him and his style of coaching. Is he a bit different behind closed doors than the Ivy League personality we see on the zoom calls?
A: Pat is himself. The same guy you guys see here is the same guy you see on the field. It’s all business. He’s very professional. He’s very observant, he’s very detail orientated in how he goes about his business. Outstanding football coach and I love to watch him coach. He’s passionate, he has energy. He does all the things that you would want a great defensive coordinator for the New York Football Giants to have. All those qualities, he has them. Pat is an outstanding football coach.
Q: You mentioned your unit was pretty steady early on and is going through some rough things now. It’s sort of the opposite of what the team is going through with the losing and now the winning. How are you handling that, how do you see that?
A: It’s part of the process. It’s a day to day process. You find out what you’re made of. I would rather obviously be a part of the winning side of it as far as helping with our phase. Making sure we’re contributing to the win as opposed to winning in spite of, but that’s football. It’s complementary football. Sometimes the defense plays well, and the special teams doesn’t play so well. Or the special teams plays well and the offense doesn’t play well or vice versa. It’s a double-edged sword, but obviously we all want to play complementary football and do those things as well as we can possibly do them. When one is down, the other one is going to pick the other phase up. That’s just part of playing a team sport. It’s rough when you have to go through those things, and you take those shots on the chin. That’s part of the process. If you want to get to where we want to be, you have to go through those things.
Q: On the blocked punt, was that a case of a double-team happening inside that didn’t need to happen? Should the guys on the outside be folding in to take the man nearest to the ball?
A: It was just an execution thing as far as us not getting depth. We addressed it internally. It’s the overall execution of the fundamentals and the techniques. That’s basically what it comes down to. We have to be better as a group. I have to coach it better. We have to play the play better and we will. We’ve put some things in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We just have to play better and that’s the whole thing. We can’t have any lapses, especially in that part of the field. The situation and where you are, we have to be super tight and we can’t have any separation of techniques.
Q: In the second quarter, Riley (Dixon) hit on deep punt down the middle of the field. He ends up making the tackle and kind of saving the play. Is that a no-no? I think you had said two weeks ago in Cincinnati that punts deep down the middle of the field are a no-no. Does it depend on your call?
A: It depends on the call. We’re a directional punting team. We don’t ever really want to punt the ball down the middle of the field. I think we ended up getting a holding call on that play on their team. We’re not a punt the ball down the middle of the field type of team. That’s part of do you want to throw the ball high over the middle of the field? No, you don’t. You want to throw the ball where the receiver can catch it. They’re human, they make mistakes. Riley is getting better and we’re moving in the right direction.