Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: So are you calling the offensive plays?
A: Nope. Stay in my lane. I've got enough to deal with.
Q: What's this week been like for you guys as a coaching staff when something like that with (Former Offensive Coordinator) Jason (Garrett) does happen?
A: Unfortunately, that's football. That's part of it. We've all got jobs to do, and my main focus is worrying about my lane. I stay right in my lane. I coach the kickers, the punters, the kickoff team, the punt team. I don't worry about the other phases. I just focus on my job. My job is to help the other phases, so I cheer them on as much as I can and make sure I focus on doing my job. The sign on the door when you walk in and we talk about it all the time, it's do your job and that's players and coaches, not just the players.
Q: Does it put you on notice?
A: You're always on notice. This is the New York Giants, like you're always on notice, right? We're in a high-performance business, so when you don't perform at a high level, that's the way it is. That's the reality of our – that's players and coaches. It's a high-performance business, so we know that walking in the door.
Q: Do things get more interesting for your units now heading into December in that building? You're going to have a couple home games here coming up, what do you have to look at overall as opposed to maybe what you've done in the first couple of home games?
A: My focus won't change. Our job is the make sure that the units are fundamentally, schematically and technically sound, and we're doing our jobs. We're doing what we're supposed to do to help the football team. Control vertical field position, making sure that we're doing our individual jobs at the highest possible level we can possibly do it. My focus won't change. We're always trying to find a way to get better and that's just the way of life in our room. We use the word Kaizen and it's something that I show them every single day. It's the act of continuous improvement. We're always trying to find a way to get better and it'll be like that from September all the way until we stop playing.
Q: How's (Wide Receiver) Pharoh Cooper doing in your estimation?
A: He's doing a good job. He's doing a good job. He's been limited in what he can do. I mean, he hadn't had a lot of opportunities last week when you have seven touchbacks, so we didn't get a chance to do anything kickoff return-wise and then punt return, the one punt return he could've gotten was out of bounds. He's been limited in his exposures, but he's done a great job in practice and when he gets an opportunity in the game, I expect good things out of him.
Q: You and (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) have talked a lot about how (Defensive Back) Nate Ebner and his leadership and how valuable it is. Who stepped up in that role with him out?
A: I think it's been more of a collective deal with that. It's hard when you lose a guy like Nate with all the experience that he's had. You look at – he's probably the most decorated guy on our team as far as postseason experience. When you lose a guy like that on the field, it's hard to replace, but Nate's been great. He's been in the meetings. He's here every day. He's at practice. He's like a coach now. He's been really good in that regard – being on the sideline, helping guys out and just being an extra set of eyes.
Q: I probably should have the statistics but I'm watching yesterday's game and when (Cowboys Running Back Tony) Pollard takes that kick back for the Cowboys, I was trying to remember the last time that I saw kick return go back. It seems to be even more rare than it's been the last couple of years. What does that do to a unit where there used to be a time where you rely on that to be a big part of this game? Have you been able to make any changes to kind of enhance that?
A: It is what it is. When people don't want to play, they don't want to play. If they want to kick it out of the back of the end zone, like Tampa did, they kicked it out seven times. It wasn't like it was just a little bit into the end zone, they were like nine, 10, 11 deep. That's just part of it. A lot of times schematically, when you're playing against a good unit and you know, 'OK, our offense is pretty good or our defense is pretty good,' you use that to your advantage, right? So if you know that they can't return or they don't want to return, you hang the ball up, or if they're not very good at it, you hang the ball up. Or if you know they've got a dangerous returner back there, 'you know what? We ain't going to let this guy wreck the game,' and it's no different than playing Cover 2 on a wide receiver that you think that's really, really good. You've got a jam corner, you've got a safety over the top, you've got a hook, curl guy coming at him. So it's the same schematically, it's the same type of strategy. But yeah, it's hard to answer the question, it's hard when you don't get as many opportunities.
Q: You guys did the opposite though, you went shorter on more of the kicks, if I have that right? So what's the benefit and the drawback of doing either one?
A: The benefit for us is we feel like we've got a pretty good kickoff coverage team and we felt like we had an edge there. So if we can put their offense on a longer field, we felt like obviously that would be an advantage for us. We should have had one tackled at the 10-yard line, it got out to the 14. But again, that's 11 yards of field position we just stole by hanging the ball up and making them return it.
Q: This week, in light of Jason's firing, is there a more aggressive re-evaluation by the coaching staff of everything you're doing and changing things? Or is it not that drastic?
A: No, I mean, there's always a constant eval of what you're doing. Every week we look at how we're doing what we're doing. I can't speak for offense or defense, I know for us, special teams-wise, we're always trying to find a way to get an edge. We're always looking back on what has happened. If something negative has happened in the past, then we'll deal with it and try to fix it and make an adjustment.
Q: We haven't been in the building in forever, so where is that 'Do Your Job' sign? Is there one in there?
A: Yes, the back where the players come in every day, it's right there. There's a sign coming in the door, sign walking out of the door. There's a group of core principles that we have that the players understand. They see the sign coming in the door and when they leave, they have things that they need to uphold once they leave the building. This is not something we just kind of trip and fell into. It's just the way of life. Again, everything's not going to be perfect, we understand that. It's just when you try and do things right and you're always trying to get better and you're always focusing on the next opponent and what do I need to do as an individual? What do we need to do as a team to take that next step? You're always going to do what's best for the team.
Q: So, the message is different coming in than going out?
A: Yes, different message.
Q: Is there anybody on the Eagles you need to watch out for on special teams?
A: They're a talented group. They've got a ton of guys that play hard and that's the one thing about (Eagles Special Teams Coordinator) Michael Clay's unit, he's been around a bunch of good coordinators from (Lions Special Teams Coordinator Dave) Fipp, to (49ers Special Teams Coordinator) Richard Hightower in San Francisco. He's been around (UCLA Head Coach) Chip Kelly when he played for Chip in college, so this guy, schematically, has been around some really good coaches and he's an excellent coach. His gunners when he was at San Francisco, he had some of the best gunners in the league. He was instrumental in developing (49ers Running Back Raheem) Mostert, Raheem Mostert. Really, people didn't know who the guy was and then he went to San Francisco and blew up and that's a lot because of Michael Clay. Their personnel, they have really good personnel. Guys plays fast. They're physical and they play hard. Schematically, they don't do a ton of stuff, but they are physical, and they play hard for Mike. All these guys are talented. Returners are talented. The kicker is very talented, as we all know, he hit a frickin' 61-yarder as a rookie to win the game at Philly in 2018 against us, so we kind of know who the guy is. They've got a very talented group.