Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
September 15, 2022
Q: Can you talk about the job (Wide Receiver) Richie James did as your punt returner?
A: Richie did a great job. He did a good job of fielding the ball and making some plays out in space. It’s good to see that unit come together. I think we have potentially the makings of a really good punt returning unit and obviously it starts with the guy with the ball in his hands. But he did a really nice job. There’s a couple of things that I wish he did better, but he did a good job.
Q: I think that was the highest punt return average you’ve had in a while. I know it’s only one game but what does Richie do that just makes him a natural back there?
A: He is a natural back there. He did a good job of fielding the ball and then making people miss in space. When he hit it, he it and that’s the thing we have to have. The returner getting hard, straight, vertical as far as getting the ball up the field.
Q: Do you want him to hit it sooner?
A: He had the one where he should’ve hit it a little sooner and we talked about that. We’ll get that fixed moving forward.
Q: It seemed like you said something to him, he had another one where he just went straight up field. How much of that was a point of emphasis during the game?
A: When you outkick your coverage like they do, we have to take advantage of those opportunities that we get. Those are lost opportunities when you don’t. It can be the difference between 15 yards or a house call. When teams do that, they put themselves in that situation, you have to take advantage of those situations.
Q: That certainly is not been the first time you guys have been in a situation where a team is lining up for a field goal at the gun, seems to happen quite often. Did you bring any of that up to your guys what happened in Washington last year in the small time that you had to talk to them?
A: Well, there’s two types of knowledge in life, borrowed and bought. We bought that one in Washington last year so those guys that were in the situation understand it, we’ve learned from that. More than anything, we didn’t want to take away any aggressiveness, we still wanted to be aggressive. (Defensive Lineman Dexter) Dex (Lawrence) was doing a great job all day of rushing over the top of the guard. So, we had the block that we liked on and if the kicker would’ve kicked it where he was supposed to, we might’ve blocked it. But it was good to be on the other side of that for once.
Q: Did something happen on the bad snap?
A: Just a bad snap. No excuses. I’m sure (Long Snapper) Casey (Kreiter) will be the first one to tell you it’s just a bad snap. I haven’t seen one of those since he’s been here, like in practice or anything. It’s a one-off deal and you move on from it.
Q: He’s healthy right?
A: Yeah, he’s fine.
Q: On that first punt return, did Jamie Gillen outkick the coverage?
A: Yeah. (Laughs) There’s a few things that went wrong on that one and we’ll clean it up and we’ll get it fixed moving forward.
Q: You’re obviously big on hang time, how did you feel his consistency was?
A: It was a little off, a little off. It wasn’t exactly what we want, and he knows that. A lot of times when you go through the process of making a change, it’s one thing to do it out here in practice, it’s a whole other thing to do get in the game and feel that game pressure. It’s a whole different scenario. So, he needs to get a couple more game reps so he can feel more comfortable trying to do different things in the game that he’s been trying to do, so he’ll get there.
Q: On the muffed punt did he do anything funky or was that just a muff?
A: I think it was just a muff. It’s a lefty spin, which is a little different. It’s a couple percentage points higher than a righty spin, where muffs happen. So, it’s kind of the advantage of having a left footed punter and the guy was young. He’s a rookie, so young players make mistakes.
Q: (Defense Back) Nick (McCloud) was your player of the game. What did you like there? What did you see?
A: Nick made two tackles and he had four forced fair catches. That’s something we hadn’t had in a while from that spot, and it was good to have.
Q: I want to ask you about (Inside Linebacker) Cam Brown. Does he remind you a little bit of (Linebacker) Chase (Blackburn) when Chase was with you? As far as the trajectory of his contributions?
A: Yes. Obviously when Chase was here, there were a lot more kicks to cover and Chase had way more opportunities than Cam, but Cam’s a play maker. I think Cam’s best footballs ahead of him, but as far as being able to make plays in space and just being physical, production-wise they’re very similar.
Q: More versatile maybe?
A: Yeah, and Chase will be the first one to tell you, he’s way more athletic than Chase was. But it was a different kind of linebacker back then. You know 6’4, 240-something pounds and physical, just a different game.
Q: Why is it that you think that the lefty spin has more muffs?
A: Well, for a long time you didn’t see the lefty spin. Percentage wise, you didn’t see a lot of left footed punters. Now in the league, it’s a lot more lefty’s than probably ever before. So, it’s just a spin that is opposite of a right footed punter.
Q: Do you set the jugs out here to spin the ball lefty?
A: We don’t have to, we’ve got a lefty.
Q: You’re always pretty good on league stuff, did you see the end of the Steelers vs. Bengals game? The blocked PAT?
A: I did not, not yet. I’ll see it.
Q: The last play of the game they blocked a PAT. Otherwise, they would’ve lost. So, my question was, do you have some trick up your sleeve when you have to have it?
A: I’m not going to tell you that.
Q: I’m just saying do special teams’ coaches have a ‘we don’t do it every time, but when we absolutely have to have it, this is what we’re going to do’?
A: Yeah, and most of them call it a got-to-have-it rush.
Q: Does (Running Back Matt) Breida being right there and down the field in front of him when he’s catching that punt, does he get credit for influencing the play there?
A: Yeah, he does. When you are down there and you’re pushing a guy down in the front and he’s got to look at the ball and then feel that pressure on top of it, that’s tough. Yeah, that’s tough.
Q: You’ve seen a lot of losing. Can you feel something about winning that first game? Different mood? Different feeling?
A: Anytime you can open up the season with a road win against a team like Tennessee, that’s a no brainer. That puts you in a good mood, obviously, as players and coaches and you feel good about yourself moving forward. But again, that’s one game. So it’s better than the alternative, for sure, but it’s one game and now the focus goes to Carolina and trying to take that next step.
Q: When’s the last time you had that feeling here?
A: It’s been a while. I haven’t had it here. It’s been like the first time I was here, and even then, we used to always open with Dallas on the road. So, it’s been a while.
Q: You kind of talked about the ‘got to have it’ rush. Once you use it, do you then have to change it and adjust because now it’s on film for somebody, you’ve got to have it a little bit different?
A: Weekly, you normally have a different ‘got to have it’ rush, it’s not always the same one. But you use it in the time where you have to have it and it’ll change every week.