Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: The fake punt, was it just a situation where you didn't execute?
A: Yeah, yeah, he just overthrew it. There's no other way to explain it, he just overthrew it. So, seeing it was something we practiced and just didn't execute. At the end of the day, that's what it's about. You've got to execute. Execution under pressure, that's our jobs, it's what we've all got to do. We just didn't execute.
Q: Why do you think (Punter) Riley (Dixon) is having a hard time executing with his punts? He hasn't lived up to his career numbers. It seems like when he needs to go short, he goes long. When he needs to go long, he goes short.
A: Well, it's not all on Riley. I think Riley had a really good game last week. Probably his best game he's had in a month. He's just got to keep working to get better. That's our primary focus. Not to focus on the negative and just make sure that we're doing everything we can as a unit and as individuals to get better. That's just part of our process.
Q: Did something go wrong in the process that we didn't see on the 18-yard punt right before the half?
A: No, it was just a bad punt. Yeah, I mean, we're not up here making excuses. He just didn't execute. I probably should have let him punt it, and it was one of those situations where we wanted to execute a certain style of punt trying to create a turnover and got cute. Probably should have just punted it down there and tried to get it inside the 10, but we were trying to make a play. When you get down like that, you start to press a little bit and then anytime you press, a lot of times, bad things happen.
Q: How much does this COVID thing hurt you as far as who you're going to use this weekend?
A: Yeah, it is what it is. It comes with the job. It's already enough with my job as it already is, just not knowing all the time who you're going to have. When you get to where you're at the bottom end of the roster and it could be a practice squad guy, it could be this guy, it could be that guy, it could not be this guy, it could be this guy, it's just – it's difficult. So, you've just got to make sure you keep it simple, and you do a good job of teaching it and make sure they understand what they're doing and what the job entails and prepare all of them.
Q: We didn't see (Kicker) Graham (Gano) yesterday because of an illness. What is your concern level on that?
A: He'll be fine, he'll be fine.
Q: Will he be here today?
A: Yeah, he'll be here. I think it was one of those deals where he wasn't feeling well and it's that time of year. It's December, you go out of town and you come back. It was warm, now it's cold and it's that time of the year.
Q: How did (Running Back) Gary (Brightwell) not block that punt?
A: Actually, he did. It hit his knee, but it just went past the line of scrimmage. That's a good question. It was a layup; you've got to make the layups. I literally talked to him about that scenario during the course of the week because it just happens out of the thousands of reps I've seen on punt rushes. I told him, I was like, 'don't be shocked if it's you and the punter eye to eye.' You look up and it's like, 'oh, there he is.' It happens, they miscount it. He had a b-line to the punter and again, we've got to do a better job of coaching, taking the ball off the foot. It's a whole other deal than here in practice and you get a chance, and it happens, and it opens like the red sea and it's you and him. The first-time experience in the league blocking a punt, it's a little different. So you've got to make sure you execute, and you understand what you're trying to do and how you're trying to do it.
Q: In practice he probably veers off right? Because he doesn't want to hurt the guys.
A: Exactly, well, we'll take it right off the foot, but it's just the consistency of seeing your hand, putting your eyes where your hand is supposed to be. Again, execution, just got to do a better job of executing.
Q: How happy were you with the execution of the onside kick?
A: You know what, the first one was not so happy, but the second one, it was very good. It gave us a chance to get back in it late, so anytime you can execute those specialty kicks, that's a good thing. We've just got to continue to in those moments, in those situational moments, we've got to execute those kinds of kicks. That kick you were talking about earlier, the boomerang, we've got to execute that kick. The punt down the side of the 10, we've got to execute that kick. All those things have to be done at a high level for us to have a chance. We've just got to do a better job with it.
Q: I know you're not a ref, but why can't you advance that? I know that happened in the Bears vs. Packers game and they muffed an onside kick.
A: You can only advance a fumble. Any kind of muff, all you can do is recover it. That's just a rule.
Q: So, he needs control first before he can advance?
A: No, no, it has to be a fumble. Like say for example, yeah, the guy controls the ball, takes a step with it, you knock it out, then we can pick it up and advance it. Any kind of muff or catch has to control it first, but you're right.
Q: Did you see that play with (Browns Wide Receiver/Specialist) JoJo Natson? You know what I'm talking about? The play out of bounds. I think 99% percent of the people had no idea, but you knew that.
A: Yeah, we talk about it with our guys all the time.
Q: Isn't it kind of dumb that you're allowed to do that?
A: I don't make up the rules, I just follow them (laughs).
Q: Would expect the league to close that loophole?
A: No, it's been like that for years. You can go back 30 years. It happens all the time. (New Orleans Saints Running Back) Ty Montgomery had one when he was with the Packers, we use it as a teaching clip. Guys stepping out of bounds and in conversely, (Seattle Seahawks Running Back) Adrian Peterson when he was young as a rookie, his first or second year in the league, he was trying to execute the rule as far as being out of bound and he did it in reverse and they got the ball at the two-yard line. So, we use that, the guys in our room understand the rule and they know exactly what it is, so when that ball gets close out of bounds, as long as you step out first and touch the ball, it's ruled a kick out of bounds.
Q: Why did Graham put that one kick out of bounds?
A: We meant to do that on purpose. Yeah, we were trying to kick it out of bounds (laughs). I'm busting your balls. No, we were trying to go left, and you know, it's always a hard kick for a right footed kicker to go left. The easiest kick is to go right, but a lot of times the average kicker will kick it out of bounds and we just didn't execute it. Yeah, another execution and Graham has hit that ball 100 times in his career. It's just one of those deals where, anytime a ball goes outside the numbers with a right footed kicker going left, that's not a good thing. I won't say it's not a good thing, I'll say that it's in danger of going out of bounds because of the power and their power zone, so to speak, going in that direction to have a tendency to pull it. It's like playing golf, same thing.
Q: You know about that?
A: Yeah, a little bit.
Q: You've mentioned already a boomerang kick, an onside fake punt, the kickoff you just mentioned, what's the line between trying to get too cute and just going and booting the ball?
A: These things are routine things for us as far as kickers are concerned, because that's their job. The boomerang for Riley, that's part of his job. The onside kick, part of his job. All of those things, that's something those guys get paid to do. It's no different than asking a wide receiver to run a double move route with a little extra on top of it as far as being able to set up a DB. That's their job, you know what I mean? It might not be the easiest thing to do, but they're paid to do it. Those types of kicks, those are things that we have to execute in those moments. We get paid to perform under pressure. That's our job. Coaches, players, it's execution under pressure, so we have to be able to do that.
Q: You see guys locked into this even though the results aren't coming?
A: Yeah. I haven't seen any signs of any, I mean look at the end of the game the other day. It could have very easily gone in another direction. You're quite frankly getting your ass kicked on the road and guys are fighting to the end to try to win the game. I haven't seen any of that. That's very promising.