Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: We don't really ask you about (Wide Receiver) C.J. (Board), but just how valuable is he, the fact that he can kind of play so many different roles for you?
A: C.J. is a Swiss Army knife. The amount of value that he adds to this football team is amazing. He's an outstanding human being, a great person in the room, a great teammate. He works his tail off. He comes in, he doesn't say two words. He'll come in the room and he just puts his pen down to the paper and he just writes and he listens, and he does everything you ask him to do. If we could have 53 C.J.'s, guys that work like that, that come out here, and he'll run all day every day and never say a word. He never complains. He never says anything, but he just does his job, and he brings value. Love the kid, can't say enough good things about him.
Q: On punt return, you're going to have (Safety) Jabrill (Peppers), (Wide Receiver) Sterling (Shepard) and (Wide Receiver) Darius (Slayton) injured, who else do you have there if it comes down to it?
A: We've got a bunch of guys that can catch punts. KT (Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney) obviously can do it. We've got guys that can do it. Those two are definitely the top two right now. Just having those options, having guys like Shep and Pep – a lot of times people will be stuck and it's a credit to (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Dave (Gettleman) and (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) and how they go about building the roster to have guys that we know that can step up and step in and do the job. You look at C.J. jump right in, 26-yard return, longest return of the year and we didn't miss a beat. It's always good to have guys that have that skillset.
Q: How curious are you with KT though? I mean you see what he's able to do on offense, maybe try him at that?
A: I've seen KT play for a long time. I knew exactly what he was. I told y'all a couple weeks ago that he's different. I didn't say that just because I thought he was an alien. He's a hell of a football player. He's super, super talented, but again, he's a rookie and (we're) just going to spoon feed him. Again, he's getting more acclimated to what he's doing. He's obviously got a heavy load on offense, so once we get him going there – like I said, when it's time to go, he'll be back there.
Q: We've seen him return punts at the collegiate level, obviously, and there's a certain skill to it, but what is the biggest adjustment or couple of adjustments for a guy who has done it well in college to try to do it well in the NFL? Scheme-wise, maybe it's not different or is it?
A: Scheme-wise, it's a lot different. But a lot of times if you watch college punters and college returners, most of the balls that they're getting are off the ground. You get the rugby-styles – there's a ton of Australian punters in college football now. You get a lot of rugby punts. The style of punt is different. A lot of times you don't see the 52-yard, 5.3-ball or 48-yard, 5.2-ball. The high ball that turns over, you don't see that a whole lot in college football. Just being able to see the ball off the foot and just getting used to it, it takes some time to develop that skill.
Q: How stunned were you when (Kicker) Graham (Gano) missed the other day?
A: Just like the question, it's like, 'really Graham?' You know (laughs)? Graham made what, almost 40 kicks in a row or whatever it was, right? It's bound to happen, you know what I mean? I wasn't expecting him to miss that one, but it happened. He came right off the field and said, 'well, got to start another one.' It's what it is. He's got to start another streak and he's a pro, he'll move on and it's a small thing to a giant.
Q: Was there any trepidation when he goes out from 48 at the end?
A: No, not at all. Heck no, not with that guy. Like I said, everybody around here has seen Graham come up and hit a big kick from 60-plus and crush it hard. I know I have.
Q: Is a kicker like a hockey goalie where if he does something badly, you'll leave him alone?
A: Yeah, I don't say anything to Graham during the game. He figured it out. He's been doing it long enough. He knew exactly what he did as soon as he walked off. That's just one of those situations, he got overanxious, too quick, close to the ball, pulled it. Just one of those deals, it's football.
Q: How much discussion was there about a field goal at the end of the half as opposed to a Hail Mary?
A: If I can recall the situation, I think we had a timeout or didn't have a timeout or one of the two, but we talked about it. It was one of those, we talked about it, but I think it was more of just being smart and not doing anything stupid at the time. Just making sure that we play for good field position and not putting our kicker in a position where he's kicking a super long field goal, they put a guy back there and that's the last thing you want. You've got frickin' (Saints Wide Receiver) Deonte Harris back there with a bunch of offensive linemen on the field, probably not a good thing to happen for you. Just in our minds, not putting ourselves in a bad situation.
Q: It seemed like a good chance to give him the opportunity to break (Baltimore Kicker Justin) Tucker's record.
A: Yeah, if you're thinking selfishly about a record (laughs). I could give a piss about a record, we were trying to win a football game. It's also a chance for them to be two yards short and he scores on a 108- yard field goal return, so no, that's not a good option (laughs).
Q: I think you were at the 48, so it would've been 64, would you have considered that?
A: Yeah, a got-to-have-it situation, yeah, absolutely. If you have to have it, yeah, absolutely. But at that point in time, we didn't have to have it. At the end of the game, absolutely. End of the half, no.
Q: Coaching against (Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator John) Fassel, he loves to do fakes, trickeration, you guys got him on one last year, it came back through a penalty. But what's the balance of trying to trick a guy who likes to do that to you?
A: You know what, it's not really – I don't consider it tricking, it's just if you find something that's sound that you feel good with, you run it. Whether it's him or anybody else, you're always trying to find the scheme that you feel good about that the players can execute. Whenever you can have an advantage or create an advantage for your team, you create the advantage. Now going against him, that's a whole different animal. They give you everything under the sun. As special teams coaches, we're so thorough in how far we go back and 'Bones' has got like 90 years of fakes. It's like 85,000 reps and it's just you've got to be sound in what you do and how you do it. He does everything and he's done everything under the sun. So, you've just got to be sound in how you prepare, and we've been working on it all week. We worked on it all last year and we've got a game plan for it, so it'll be fun.
Q: I was just going to ask if you saw the Monday Night Football game, what you thought of a receiver like (Raiders Wide Receiver) Hunter Renfrow laying out that hit?
A: You know what, I didn't see the actual play because we were here working when it happened, but I went and watched the tape, and it was pretty incredible. Just to have the awareness and to be able to make that play – Hunter Renfrow, he's a hell of a football player. He's exciting to watch and I watched him in the offseason a little bit. He's a problem, like he's a real problem. That guy is legit. But to have that wherewithal and the awareness to come up and make that play, that was an outstanding play.