Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
September 30, 2021
Q: (Punter) Riley (Dixon)’s punt – did he just mishit it?
A: Yeah, it was a windy day. No excuses, but it was what it was. It was probably reminiscent of the old
Giants stadium. We haven’t had one of those in a while and you just got to be able to adjust. Yeah, it
was just a mishit ball and we’d love them back, but that’s the game. That’s football.
Q: What did you think of the possibility of (Kicker Graham) Gano – you guys were on the 39-yard line
and it would be about 56 yards. What did you think about that distance on that day?
A: At that time of the game, the situation and the wind, it was just so iffy. You want to be able to believe
in the defense and put them in a good position with a good punt and put them on a long field because
the percentage is say, you got a better chance of holding them from a score and you’re down a ball
inside the 10 or down inside the five. Having that ability as opposed to trying to kick a 58-yard field goal
or whatever it is. Into the wind or swirling wind on that end, so just understanding the situation and it
feels like at one point the wind was in your face on both ends. It was just one of those days. It was just a
little windy in there and you don’t want to put – even as good as Graham is, you don’t want to put him
in a situation where you give the other team good field position by trying a long field goal.
Q: This week in the Superdome, I assume that changes?
A: Absolutely. Totally different situation, right? You’re in the Superdome, but again, MetLife versus the
Superdome, two totally different places as you know. (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) is always great at playing
the situations as it occurs in front of us.
Q: Do you know what his (Gano0 range is? Do you have to wait until that day?
A: You got to wait until that day. Sometimes guys feel really good, sometimes they’re just feeling okay.
But Graham has good range. We’ve all seen it here. Graham has a really strong leg and when he’s called
upon, he always does his job for the most part.
Q: You said that Joe is great playing through the situation there. What’s your role in that? What do
A: Really, honestly, in that situation, Joe understands the kickers range in that situation because he’s
been a special teams coordinator. He doesn’t have to come to me to ask me a bunch of questions. He
knows. We’ve already talked about it and you don’t really have to have a lot of discussion. Either we’re
going to punt it or we’re going to kick it, one of the two. More than anything, it would be a discussion
with Graham, really isn’t because Graham, you ask him and he’s going to say, ‘Yeah, I can kick it.’ That’s
what kickers do. In their mind and they’re supposed to think that way. But no, those situations are
always talked about well in advance and we know what his range is going into those situations and
we’re constantly talking about it on the headset. It’s not like something that like all of a sudden, he just
makes the decision. It’s a constant flow of conversation during the course of the game.
Q: At the moment or at second or third down, are you already discussing it?
A: Yeah, we’re always talking. We’re talking throughout the whole game. Again, it’s a constant
conversation between me, Joe and (Assistant Special Teams Coach Tom) Quinn on the sideline. We’re
always talking Riley, talking to Graham. It’s always how we’re going to kick, we’re to punt. Just having
everybody alert on the sideline and talking through the situations before they come up.
Q: On kickoff, if there something (Running Back) Devontae Booker wasn’t doing well? I know he was
on there and you guys scratched him.
A: That’s just inactives. Wasn’t anything he did. It’s the flow of the inactives and actives.
Q: So, you thought he was fine on the kickoff?
A: I’m not saying that I thought he was fine, I thought he was not fine. It was just he was up, if he’s in the
game, if he’s up, he’s going to play. If he’s not up, he’s not going to play. That’s just the inactives,
actives, inactives. That’s just how it works. If a guy is up on game day, he’s going to play. If he’s not up,
he’s not going to play.
Q: I meant is his being inactive related to failures on special teams?
A: No, no.
Q: You’re going to a place where they have a statue of a blocked punt outside from the last time, they
were in a situation like this. How do you prevent your team from being statued?
A: You just play good football. We all know about the Superdome and what it entails and the
atmosphere. I’ve been there, national championship experience, I’ve been in a playoff game. The
Superdome is the Superdome. Sugar Bowl, whatever it is, it’s the Superdome. It’s electric. It’s a great
place, it’s great venue and if you don’t get excited about going down there and playing in that
environment in this situation, you got issues. This is a great place. The statue is a statue. It’s history and
New Orleans – in that time, in their history, that was a strong play that was made at an opportune time
by (Former Saints Safety) Steve Gleason. What else can you say about it? That was a monumental time
for that city, and it brought them together. It has nothing to do with us going down here and playing a
football game. That’s in the past and right now, we’re taking advantage of the opportunity that we get
to go down there and play a football game.
Q: Were you still down there when that happened?
Q: Were you here?
A: I was actually in Denver at the time. Yeah, I was in Denver at the time. Obviously, being down there
after the situation because I coached at LSU maybe five years after the situation, it was still – and I’m
from Houston so, a lot of people moved from New Orleans to Houston. Trust me, I’ve got a strong grasp
of the situation.
Q: I would imagine you still know people down there and are friendly with people down there?
A: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.
Q: You don’t want to compare Hurricane Katrina to what they’re dealing with, but it’s been so many
days, you know that community down there, Joe mentioned the atmosphere yesterday. You kind of
know what you’re walking into.
A: Absolutely, absolutely. Make no mistake about it. We understand what we’re going into. We know
the situation. It’s very similar to what it was the last time. We just got to go down there and play good
football and understand that’s what it is. It’s New Orleans. It’s after a hurricane, it’s very similar to the
Katrina situation. We embrace the opportunity. Like I said, I love going to the Superdome, I absolutely
love it. Our guys, I think they’ll embrace it too.
Q: I feel like I’m old enough to remember when 45-to-50-yard field goals were not a sure thing, now
the numbers are 66 percent of them are converted. When did that change and how did that change?
(Ravens Kicker) Justin Tucker is making a 66-yard field goal.
A: It’s crazy. It really changed probably right around the mid-90’s. I’d say mid to late 90’s when it went
from the backup quarterback being the fulltime holder to where the punter was the fulltime holder and
then you had a fulltime snapper. It wasn’t (Former Titans Offensive Lineman) Bruce Matthews snapping.
Q: When it became more specialized?
A: Yeah, when it’s specialized. You have a fulltime snapper, a fulltime holder and a kicker that’s there
and all three of them are working together every day in practice. That’s when it changed. When the
league went to that, that’s when it changed. That’s what like anything else, you get better at it, you
practice it every day, you’re going to get better at it. That’s why the percentages have gone up since.
Q: Has (Safety) Jabrill (Peppers) recovered from that vicious hit he took on the fair catch?
A: (laughs) He tried to give them his best Dennis Rodman.