Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Big picture, as a team you guys aren't getting the results. On your side of the ball, what signs of progress have you seen whether it's individual players or what do you feel like your group has done well?
A: The one thing that we've done well all year is cover kickoffs, I want to say one or two in the league, one of them. That's what we can build on. We pride ourselves in the way we cover kicks, and we have to continue to get better. Right now, we're down some guys, so we've got to find a way to keep doing what we've been doing. Obviously, it starts at the top, but we're at the bottom of the totem pole. What you see on offense and defense is magnified on our end. A bunch of guys that haven't gotten a ton of reps and they're going to asked to play, they've just got to play well. That's just a reality of being a special teams coach in this league. You're going to have injuries and again, we talk about it all the time, we've just got to make the gumbo, we've got to make it taste right. That's our job, we've just got to make it right.
Q: Are you alright with (Wide Receiver) Pharoh (Cooper) catching a lot of those punts deep or would you like him to let some of them bounce?
A: Nope. I am perfectly fine with the ball being caught at the seven or the eight. These guys are so good now, like it's not like it was earlier, like when I was playing earlier '96, '97, 2000. These guys are outstanding at getting the ball down inside the five-yard line. Especially the guy we're playing this week, the Australian, you know what I mean? Most of the time those balls are going to be the ones that hit at the eight-yard line, that hit at the nine-yard line, those are the ones that end up inside the five. If you field the ball at the three-yard line, that's a whole different ball game, but if we're catching the ball at the seven, I've got no issue with that.
Q: What is your ladder of demarcation? Is it around the five?
A: It's the eight-yard line. It's right on the seven, eight-yard line right there. Especially as the better the guys is at downing the ball inside the 10, that line is anywhere from seven to eight.
Q: The distance that the guys are kicking off and the height they are getting and the hang time, are returns the exception in pro football as opposed to normally you see guys bringing stuff back?
A: Well, it's harder now because of the rule change. Back in the day, you could start off in the tunnel and take off on a flying take off, but now it's not like that. You've got one yard. Then the hang time, it just depends on your organization philosophy. There are some people that say, 'Hey look, the league average is the drive starts at 25, we'll take the ball to the 25.' Then depending on who you have back there returning the ball, if you feel good about the guy bringing the ball out from five, six deep, if you're Atlanta and you've got (Falcons Running Back) Cordarrelle Patterson back there, you have a whole different way of how you're going to approach the game because you feel like at any point in time the ball could cross 50, it could cross the 40, or it could go to the house. So, it just depends on your philosophy and how you view the play. There are teams in our division that view the play differently, and just the league in general. I think it's an organization thing, I think it's a coaching philosophy thing and it goes from team to team.
Q: How different of returners are (Eagles Wide Receiver Jalen) Reagor, (Eagles Wide Receiver Quez) Watkins and (Eagles Running Back Kenneth) Gainwell?
A: They're all very talented, they all have unique features about them. Obviously, Jalen is very, very talented. Can stick his foot in the ground, change direction, make cuts at full speed. He's a very talented kid. Gainwell is hard, straight, fast, tight runner coming out of Memphis and you see it – like in the game last week where he had a return opportunity, he hits. Watkins is kind of like a hybrid of both of those guys. They've got a talented group, teams wise, (Special Teams Coordinator) Coach (Michael) Clay has done a really good job of trying to build a good core and they're (inaudible). We've got to be ready for all three of them.
Q: Disappointment at all for (Kicker) Graham (Gano)? Did you think he would have a chance?
A: Yeah, I mean, anytime you're almost 90 percent, you've always got a chance. You miss four field goals in a year where guys are missing one. This voting thing is a little different, guys mentalities are different. Back in the day, guys that kicked in the freaking dome or in warm weather didn't get a whole lot of consideration regardless of how many kicks they made. You kick in this stadium, you do what (Ravens Kicker) Justin Tucker's doing in Baltimore, kicking in that place and having the kind of percentage that he has, it's a whole lot different kicking in the dome or you've got nine games in the dome or eight games in the dome and you're playing in the AFC South or you're playing in the NFC West or whatever where it's warm. That's a whole different ball game to play in than this, because they're all freezing – I mean you've got a freaking hoodie on with gloves (laughs). You know what I mean? To me, it's just a totally different deal. You've got to understand what you're looking at. Most of the people that (are) voting on it have no idea what they're looking at.
Q: Was there a cross wind last week, because (Cowboys Kicker Greg) Zuerlein had one that went left.
A: Yeah, it was pretty nasty. It was in his head a little bit because he struggled all pregame with it. That first extra point that he kicked, it was really bad because it went up and as soon as the ball got up in the air, it was just a gust. It's a good kick, it was just a gust of wind just hit it. That's the difference between being at home in Dallas and being at MetLife. It's a big difference. Playing in the North East is different.