Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
September 22, 2022
Q: Is there a field goal that (Kicker) Graham Gano cannot make?
A: What can you say about Graham right? Anytime we ask him to come through he does. I’ve been on the other side of it before, but it’s more often than not he’s come through for us.
Q: Is he any different than he was in Carolina? Has he changed anything?
A: The two years I had him in Carolina, I think the second year is when it just clicked for him. I think that’s when he figured it out. In the ‘15 year, he made a lot of game winning kicks during their Super Bowl stretch. Then the next year he was starting to figure it out and then right at the end of the year we played Tampa, and it was a windy stadium, he kind of struggled a little bit that day. But that next year is when he went to the Pro Bowl. He’s taken off since then.
Q: What’s his range on a non-windy day? What’s his max?
A: 65, I think? 64 or 65 something like that. I mean, we’ve seen him hit 63 in a game. We’ve all seen that one. He has a strong leg obviously.
Q: Do you have a Panthers 2-yard bonus for him when he knows he’s going against the Panthers?
A: That’s this league. These guys are prideful. Anytime they get a chance to go against their old team, you can sit up there and lie and say, ‘Aw it didn’t make a difference.’ Yeah, it does. If you leave the way he left, that’s just the reality of it. That’s coaches, that’s players. Anytime you get a chance to go stick it to your old team, that’s what they do. That’s this league, it’s competitive.
Q: What does it do for your room, two weeks, two turnovers? What does that create in your room?
A: Momentum. I always tell them, big plays, once they start, they come in droves. We’ve got to just continue to keep working as a group to get better regardless of what happens, we’ve just got to keep working to get better. If it’s trying to get another turnover, we’re always working to get those. We’re trying to do the right things and hopefully we can continue to get them.
Q: Have you ever seen anything like that? Where a guy (Safety Dane Belton) has that as the first play of his career?
A: That’s crazy, huh? That’s a new one for me. You step on the field and the first play you get a fumble recovery. That’s new for me, so I’m happy for Dane. He’s a hard-working kid, he’s smart, he has a lot of good football in front of him.
Q: Is that play as perfect as it gets? The way everyone seemed to do their job. (Inside Linebacker) Cam (Brown) blew up one guy, (Inside Linebacker) Micah (McFadden) got a piece of him.
A: It was well played. It kind of ended up in a solid result. We always talk about biting the ball and running through contact, accelerating your feet on contact with our tackling. Getting our eyes up, chest up, running through, and it was a textbook tackle. Knocked the ball out. That was a great play by (Inside Linebacker) Carter (Coughlin).
Q: Do you take pride in guys like (Running Back Gary) Brightwell and (Wide Receiver) Richie James now this year, who were pretty much exclusively with you and now they’re having to do things on offense?
A: Right, I mean that’s part of it. I always tell the guys, because this is our special team’s room, ‘our job is to help you graduate.’ You come in here, you make plays as a young player and then your job is to graduate to go play offense and defense. Then we repeat the process with younger players. Then some guys just become special teams players – that’s their role, that’s what they do. But we want them to make as much money as they can possibly make, make as many plays as they can possibly make and play as much football as they can possibly play. Whether it be on special teams and defense or offense.
Q: As a guy who has been here for a while, how would you speak to the fact that you’re answering questions after a couple of wins? It just feels like it’s been a long time since that’s been the climate.
A: Yeah, it has been. It’s been a long time. It’s fun though. It’s fun to be able to talk about our team in a positive way. People not asking questions, condescending questions kind of jabbing you a little bit as opposed to still doing their jobs. It’s really fun but we’ve got a lot of football left. It’s definitely been a lot better than what it’s been.
Q: When (Punter) Jamie (Gillan) hits that punt for 80 yards in the air for a touchback. Is that a good punt? How do you view that?
A: In the situation that was because of where the guy was playing him. The ball comes over his head and into the endzone. I guess you’ll take 67 yards and 47 yards, and you’ll take it in that situation but ideally that’s not what we want to do. Jamie’s working to get better. He has a live leg. Again, that process of getting better, we use the word kaizen, it’s the act of continuous improvement. That’s something we’re always working towards.
Q: You had three long snappers in for a workout this week, is that any reflection on (Long Snapper) Casey (Kreiter)?
A: No, that’s part of it. Eventually we’re going to have three kickers in. It’s just part of the process in personnel. They’re always bringing guys in. Just kicking the tires on guys making sure if something happens, we’ve got a short list of guys and they can come right in, and we can work with them.
Q: Because Jamie has such a strong leg, do you almost have to analyze each kick differently. If he hits something the wrong way with his leg, I mean he’s that strong where he may out kick it 10-20 yards just based on his strength.
A: It’s something that we’re working on. It’s a control thing. It’s like being able to hit a nine-iron. You know your full nine is 155 but depending on the wind, depending on direction, rain, all the conditions, you’ve got to be able to control it. That’s the thing he has to get better at. Just working on controlling.