Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: What was the lesson for (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) on that punt return? Should he have fair caught that?
A: Yeah. It's the same thing I told him as soon as the play happened, the one thing about being a punt returner, you have to be patient, you've got to let plays come to you. You can't chase plays as a punt returner. That's just a young guy making a mistake, trying to make a play in the moment, wants to do well for his team. It's like anything else, I tell him all the time, sometimes you win, sometimes you learn, you never lose. He won in that situation because he's learned a valuable experience. Don't chase plays, let them come to you.
Q: You guys signed (Wide Receiver) Pharoh Cooper this week and I don't know if he'll be up for you this week on Sunday, but tell us what you know about him and what you think he might bring.
A: Pharoh Cooper, former Pro Bowl returner, been around the league, veteran guy, dependable, hardworking guy from all reports I've received from other places he's been, and he's all ball. You can see it from the first day he walked in. We look forward to working with him and any time you get a chance to work with a guy like that, that's a professional and all ball all the time, you embrace that opportunity.
Q: The Chiefs had no return yards in that game – punt or kickoff. Obviously, I'm sure that was part of what your plan was, what do you give up to do that? Are you kicking the ball shorter to make sure they're not having return yards? Obviously, if you can have no return yards every game, you would, so I imagine that there is something you have to trade off there to make sure they don't have any return yards.
A: The tradeoff is potentially tackling them inside the 20 on the kickoff, but you're weighing your options there with one of the perennial top five, if not top return group, in the league with explosive returners. You weigh the chances of them potentially making a game-breaking play as opposed to just taking them completely out of it with a guy like (Kicker) Graham Gano, who can kick balls out of the back of the endzone. You weigh your options on that. Punt wise, obviously you've just got to go cover punts. (Punter) Riley (Dixon) has to give us good direction, we've got to get down there and go cover. Got to give us hang to distance and that's just the reality of – that's how you create that situation where you have zero punt yards. I was proud of our guys for doing that and to be able to execute at that level. Forcing a fair catch with the gunners and being able to put them in situations where they're scrambling a little bit, trying to find another way to make a play in the kicking game.
Q: I assume Riley's last punt at the end was not designed to be that short.
A: No, no, no. He'll tell you just like everybody else will tell you. It just wasn't a good punt by him. It's just like anything else. Sometimes the ugly stuff is good. Couldn't get to it and you just never know. These guys are explosive. (Chiefs Wide Receiver) Mecole Hardman, you saw what he did on offense. Anytime a guy gets his hand on a ball in space, they're explosive. They have explosive returners. That's just part of football.
Q: What are the teaching points for (Linebacker) Cam Brown. You mentioned Riley's last kick which you would want a little deeper and then you don't want a five-yard penalty to give them five more yards to set up for a game winning field goal. What is the teaching point on that play?
A: Luck. The ball is coming directly back into his path as he's coming back into the field of play. The ball's literally coming right at him and I think it was just a reaction thing. As soon as he did it, he knew he screwed up. We talk about this stuff all the time, we drill it, we go through it and stuff happens at times. Not to give the kid an excuse, but that's just the way football is sometimes. Sometimes young players are going to make mistakes. He's still learning and he's learning and winning in that situation because he knows the next time he's in that situation, he can't do it. There's no excuses, just can't do it.
Q: Have you ever had a run of returners getting hurt so much?
A: Actually, my first year here, we went through a few of them. That's football. It happens sometimes. You get guys that get nicks and soft tissues and broken bones. It's football. It's unfortunate, but we're going through our run here of guys, so we've just got to make sure that we can keep them upright and we don't have any bones broken or soft tissue injuries. It's just the luck of the draw sometimes. This is football, it's not tennis or golf. It's a collision sport and sometimes those collisions are going to cause injuries. Keep trying to do the best you can with what you have and just coach up guys and protect themselves and sometimes that stuff happens.
Q: You offering hazard pay?
A: (Laughs) I wish. My youngest boy right now is going through rehab of an injury that he had literally trying to put his hand down to brace himself on just carrying a football. He's been dealing with it for a while, it's almost been a whole year now. Sometimes you have those injuries and, in this game, it's just when you play it, you know when you walk out on that field, there's a possibility that injuries can occur. You've just got to keep plugging along, try to get back healthy and go back out again.