Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: With (Kicker) Graham (Gano), how much input do you have on if you're going to attempt a 50-plus yard field goal, is it predetermined before the game or on the fly?
A: No, it's always kind of predetermined. It depends on how he feels. Graham is always – if you ask a kicker, 'Can you make it?' They're going to always tell you, 'Yes.' It's just the flow of the game. How it's going to pan out, how we're moving the ball on offense, what's the wind like. Just all those different things that kind of play into it and just managing the situation as they occur. It's so many different factors that come into determining whether we're going to try to kick from 55 yards or 58 yards or whatever it is in the half, in the game. It's just a bunch of different scenarios that can come into play.
Q: You guys were working out some punters this week. What was the thought process there?
A: You're always trying to kick the tires, see what's out there. You're always trying to find young talent to develop. In this COVID era, you've just always got to cover your butt. That's the landscape that we're in now. So, you're always looking for guys to bring along, like we did with (Former Giants Kicker) Ryan Santoso and then you also want to have potentially, if the roster allows you, some legs. We've got an older kicker, we've got a veteran punter, if we can find a guy that kind of helps us in practice, we're always looking for that too.
Q: How much of that is also finding a left footed punter? I think you have a couple of those guys on your schedule.
A: Yeah, anytime you can get that you want it. Anytime if you can get a guy to come in and work out for you and have your guys see it live off the foot, that's something that you want.
Q: With (Defensive Lineman) Dexter Lawrence, what's the coaching point on that play or did he not do anything wrong?
A: It's like anything else. It's just keying it back, tip of the ball. We talk about it all the time and it's just one of those deals. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In this case he had to learn. It's a hard lesson to learn, but you've just got to be disciplined in that situation. He had five or six times before to see the mechanics of what went on. It's tough, but that's part of growing and learning in this league.
Q: You want him trying to time it and jump it?
A: No, we're just watching the ball. It's no different, he does it every day, every play on defense. You know what I mean? It's like at the snap of the ball, you're keying it back, tip of the ball. It's just, he made a mistake. That's just part of it.
Q: Do you think he went early, or he just timed it better than the rest?
A: No, when everybody else doesn't go and you go, and it might be perfect – it looks different. To the eye, they're going to throw the flag because it just looks different.
Q: You have a couple of guys that are injured this week, (Linebacker) Cam Brown, who is a key guy for you, (Defensive Back Nate) Ebner. How much does that throw your personnel plans into array?
A: We talk about this all the time with these guys. We're making gumbo, you know what I mean. It just depends on who you have and what kind of gumbo you're making that week. That's our job as special teams coaches. We've got to make the adjustments. Whether it be Cam, whether it be whoever it is, we juggle those balls, we move the pieces around and make it fit.
Q: Yeah, but when you make gumbo and you do substitutions, the recipe is not always going to taste the same. How do you prioritize that?
A: Sometimes you might want shrimp gumbo, but you don't have shrimp that week. You know what I'm saying? That's just the reality of it right? You've got to have chicken gumbo. It doesn't have the andouille sausage in it this week, you know what I mean? (laughs) That's what it is. We've got to make do with what we have. In the situation with Cam, obviously you don't want to lose a guy at that caliber, but that's the National Football League. You're going to lose some guys (and) you're going to gain some guys. It's opportunities for other guys to step up and make plays, so we'll see what happens.
Q: With (Falcons Running Back Cordarrelle) Patterson as the returner, I know the respect that (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) has, and you guys have talked about him last year when you were playing him. Does it make you rethink the strategy of now wanting to put the ball through the endzone every time you have the opportunity because of a guy like that?
A: It makes you rethink a lot of things when you have a guy like that. He's different. He's arguably the greatest kick off returner of all time. (He's) got eight career kick off returns (touchdowns). That's a whole lot. Even in this situation, when you have a guy like Cordarrelle Patterson, you have to respect him for who he is. We just have to go out there and accept the fact that he's on the field and we got to go play him. We played him last year when he was in Chicago. It's not foreign to a lot of our guys, so we've just got to go out there and play football, be disciplined, play with fundamentals and techniques.
Q: Does it change your preparation when looking at the punting for them whether they have (Falcons Punter Dustin) Colquitt put out there or (Falcons Punter Cameron) Nizialek?
A: Yeah, Colquitt's a lefty, he's been in this league for a long time. We played against him Week 1 last year when he was in Pittsburgh. He's not foreign to us. I've been coaching against him since 2005 when he came in the league. The other kid is a young kid. He struggled a little bit, but that's what young punters do. Young kickers, young punters, young quarterbacks, they struggle. It's rare will you see a guy, a rookie come into the league and he just tears it up. That just doesn't happen. Whoever's in there, our guys will be prepared for it. We've caught lefty jugs, we'll be ready for it, so whoever is in there we'll be ready.
Q: I think three of the eight longest consecutive field goal streaks in league history are active right now including one here. Is there something that is league wide that is still allowing that to happen? What do you see that makes that happen?
A: I think you just have to give credit to those guys that are kicking. It's not the easiest thing to do, obviously. I would venture to say that all three of those guys who have the long streaks probably have the consistent snapper and the same holder. When you can get that continuity, that makes a big difference. It's no different than any other position on the field whether it be quarterback, the center and the o-line and receivers and quarterbacks, d-linemen and the secondary. Guys playing together, the consistency, that part of it, that makes all the difference in the world.
Q: There was a punt that rolled and then the next one (Wide Receiver C.J.) Board went in. Was that something you guys weren't happy with (Safety Jabrill) Peppers not fielding that?
A: That's what happens when you play (Washington Punter) Tress Way. He'll hit one 65 yards, 60 yards and crush it. Then you start backing up and playing him at 50, 55 and then he'll mishit one that rolls at 37 yards. It hits at 37 yards and rolls for another 20. That's just who he is. That's what makes him as good as he is too. He's been to the Pro Bowl, he's a Pro Bowl punter, he's really, really good. You have to respect him, the distance, but also the mishits are going to come. When they do, when his ball hits the ground, it just takes off. It's just part of playing the game. You just hope you can catch one on the run and make him pay that way.
Q: At any point do you want to kick the tires with (Wide Receiver Kadarius) Toney and see what you got as a returner?
A: At some point in time, when the opportunity presents itself, it'll happen. He's got a lot of things he's working through on the offense, but he'll be fine. When it's time for him to get back there, he'll be back there, and he'll make a play. It'll come.
Q: Do you think Way mishit that or did he do that on purpose?
A: Oh, he mishit it. Yeah, he's not trying to hit that on purpose. He isn't that good (laughs). That's what he does. He's no different – there's been other players in the league that have done that before. (Former Cardinals Punter) Andy Lee was the same way. Andy Lee would hit a ball 60 yards, 55 yards, 60 yards and then all of a sudden you play him back and he'll mishit one at 40 and it rolls for 15 yards. That's what happens when you have a big ball hitter. They swing really hard at the ball, and then sometimes if they're off just a little bit, the ball instead of going 65 yards it'll hit at 38 or 40 yards and it'll just take off and run.
Q: So, it backs you up so when he does mishit it, you're not as ready?