Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Okay, give us the rundown of that kickoff. Can you retell it?
A: Simple mistake. It was an honest mistake by Coop (Wide Receiver Pharoh Cooper) and it's unfortunate. It's unfortunate it happened. He knows it was a mistake. That's football. I can promise you this, you wouldn't have a better guy as far as just work ethic, doing the right things, being in meetings. He just made an honest mistake. The wind was tricky, and it was typical Chicago in January – really, really cold, really, really windy – hence, 'the Windy City.' But he made an honest mistake.
Q: Do you coach him to go back there and catch it no matter what? Because he did kind of the same thing, but it was on the other side on the one early.
A: Right, and the wind took it. The exact instructions – put your heels on the three-yard line. Unfortunately, it happened. Again, you live and you learn and onto the next play.
Q: Who's your returner this week?
A: That's a good question. We'll see.
Q: You guys did one of those punts with (Punter) Riley (Dixon) where he kind of like rolled out. What was the thought process behind that?
A: Any time you have an extremely dangerous returner, you can't just shoot it out of a jugs machine to him. Any way strategically or schematically you can make him get uncomfortable and not just catch the ball or catch a 60-yard five-whatever hang punt. If you have to make him move off the spot and make him feel uncomfortable, that's kind of the whole premise. If you watch us the whole year, that's just kind of what we do. We try not to just, 'Hey, here's a 45-yard, 4.8 ball. Let's have you return it because you're faster than everybody on the frickin' field, other than maybe (Defensive Back) Keion (Crossen).' We don't want to do that. Any time we get a dangerous guy, we're going to try and do our best to negate him.
Q: Does the Washington guy fit into that category?
A: Yes, he's very, very dangerous. He already has a touchdown this year on a kickoff return, 101 yards against Atlanta. I literally just got out of the meeting and telling them, 'That guy will run through the smoke,' and he's super, super talented. He's fearless and he's a guy you've just got to deal with.
Q: Why did you put (Wide Receiver Alex) Bachman back there as like kind of the double return? I don't think you guys have done pretty much of that.
A: Wind. Wind. It's just again, any time you can have more ball handlers on the field, it's a windy situation. The ball could come off the tee and it could be headed in one direction and all of a sudden it ends up on the other side of the field. Any time it's windy outside, you want to have as many ball handlers back there as you can.
Q: I assume this might be the last time we talk to you this season. How do you look at what your special teams unit did this year as a whole?
A: Obviously, looking back, there are a lot of plays we would like to have back. I think we've done some good things. We're developing a young core. We've had a ton of injuries with our core. Again, we've talked about this before, you're talking about continuity, and this is on all sides of the ball and every unit. When you've got a great o-line, you've got the same guys playing that are playing every snap together. Defensive line, same thing. You've got the same four or five guys rotating in. You've got the same punt team every week. You've got the same kickoff team. When you can develop that continuity, that helps breed consistency. If you've got a lot of changes, constant changes, and big changes, it's just hard to get that continuity. It's not an excuse, it's just the reality of the situation. Again, if we could have more continuity, I think that would help with the consistency, which would help with the performance. I think we've been okay, to be honest with you. I think we've been okay. We haven't made enough game-changing plays to help our football team. Sometimes that's the reality of a season. You want to make as many plays as you can. But again, you want to make sure you're sound too because I've seen it the other way where you don't have continuity and you give up a bunch of big plays because of that. We haven't done that, knock on wood. We've just got to stay consistent with the guys that we have out on the field, coach them up, get them better and if it's three right tackles three weeks in a row on the punt team and they're different, so be it. That's why they call you coach. That's why we get paid to do a job. That's our job to coach them up and we've got to make sure that they're able to perform on game day.
Q: In retrospect, how much were you hoping to get (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) at some point as your returner?
A: You know what, I don't worry about players in particular. Obviously, you want a game-changer back there and a guy that can make a play, but I'm going to coach whoever's out there. Whoever's out there, it doesn't matter. It could be Kadarius. It could be (Wide Receiver) Darius Slayton. It could be Alex Bachman. It could be whoever. Our job as coaches is when (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) tells me, 'Okay, this guy is returning punts this week,' or 'This guy, you've got him available this week,' he'll play. I don't worry about who I don't have. I just worry about who I have, and I focus on him, and we focus on him and just make sure whoever that person is, is able to do the job.
Q: Is there any nervousness from you or the staff about job security going into this game?
A: Never. Not me. I can't speak for the staff. I'm just telling you for me, look, I just do my job. Whatever happens after that, it happens. I promise you and I want you to hear this clearly, I will never lay my head down on the pillow and worry about job security because I do the best I can, like I leave it all out on the table. I try and do everything I can possibly do to do my job the best I can do. I promise you I'm not worried about job security.
Q: What do you think the best case is for this staff coming back and continuing to coach what you've built?
A: The best case is building on the things that we've done. I know sometimes it's always easy to second guess and critique and say, 'Oh, they don't do this.' You don't see a lot of stuff that's going on behind the scenes. There are some good things that are happening, and we've just got to keep building and stay to the process. A lot of times when you're building on swamp ground, you've got to go 10 times deeper before you start going up. We're all on swamp ground if you haven't figured it out and it's a little harder here. It's not Cleveland. It's not other places. It's New York City and it's harder to build here because you've got a lot of things that you're working against. It's hard. You come get your head beat in. You're going to get your teeth kicked in. You're going to get booed in the stadium. If you're not strong mentally, you're not going to be able to make it here. That's the reason why they say, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. It is hard here and you've just got to stay the course, keep pounding, keep grinding and eventually you'll get to where you want to be, right? Because you'll have some success and it'll happen here. When we've seen this city flip, we already know what it is. We've seen one week, 'Eli (Manning) sucks.' We've seen that, right? Now, his freaking name's up in the rafters after two Super Bowls. We've seen it here. We know what it is. The guys that have been here, we understand it and we know exactly what it is. Again, you've just got to keep your head down, keep working, keep grinding and eventually get to where you want.
Q: What do you mean is more working against you here than maybe other places?
A: Don't act brand new (laughs). You know it's tough here. This is New York City, like it's tough. This is the hardest place to have success, so when you have success here, that's why the franchises are iconic. New York Yankees, New York Knicks, New York Giants, like when you have success here it goes all over the world. So if it's worldwide success, it's not going to be easy. We understand that and you've got to know that walking in the front door. You know what it is. You see these logos all around the world. You get off a plane in Germany and you'll see a Giants logo. You'll see a Yankees logo. That's what it is, right? We're talking about the best of the best, the elite of the elite. It's hard here. It's not easy. We've just got to make sure we just keep our head down and keep working.