Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
McGaughey: Good afternoon, good people. How are you guys going? Fire away.
Q: What went right on the (running back Gary) Brightwell return?
A: The blocks. We had some good blocks at the point of attack. Gary did a good job of just hitting it, getting vertical. It's just something we've been working on. It's kind of starting to move forward. So, we just got to make sure we keep working the fundamentals and the techniques. I talk to the guys all the time. When you execute the fundamentals and the techniques, the big plays will come. We just got to make sure we keep executing.
Q: (Tight end Daniel) Bellinger isn't usually in that spot. Does he earn himself a spot there having that block on that return?
A: Those guys are always rolling back there. It's just situational. Obviously, he stepped in when (tight end) Tanner (Hudson) got hurt or was out. But no, he did a good job. Belly (Daniel Bellinger) is doing a good job. He's working hard, and it's showing up in all facets of his game.
Q: Is it hard in this era with such a high percentage of touchbacks for players? Do you have to remind players to stay mentally into it? In that game, you got five touchbacks and a 47-yard return.
A: That's just part of the game now. That's what it is. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. The game is the game, and the guys have to stay locked in because you just never know when somebody might kick it short. They kind of lull you to sleep, and all of a sudden, the ball is at the 15-yard line. So, you always got to be locked in and ready.
Q: (Outside linebacker) Oshane (Ximines) – I think it was Oshane – about one of the things on the checklist every week is 'winning special teams.' How many weeks do you feel like you've won of these first six?
A: It's kind of been 50/50 maybe, if not in a lower percentage. We haven't played great, in my opinion, but the guys are getting better. And that's our whole mantra in our room, is that we're cognizant of something that we live by in our room, and it's the act of continuous improvement. It's not getting too high. It's not getting too low. It's figuring out what you need to do that day to get better, and individually, they have to get better. And as a group, we have to get better. So, we're going in the right direction. To answer your question, I feel like we're going in the right direction.
Q: Are you a tough grader?
A: Yeah. I think I am. We do have a standard here. We've played pretty well on special teams the last four or five years here. So, I think the players understand the standard. They know what it is, and we know that we weren't playing up to the standard. We just go to keep getting better.
Q: That play where (wide receiver) Richie (James) kind of chipped the gunner to let the ball go into the endzone, is that something you coach, or is that him doing that?
A: We coach it. It's situational. You got to be smart. Every week, we go through a reel of situations that happen throughout the league, and we always talk to our guys about borrowing knowledge and buying knowledge; those are two types of knowledge that you buy – borrow and buy in this game. So, we watch those clips, and sometimes we borrow it from other people. And sometimes we buy it. But Richie does a really good job. He understands that that job and what it entails. You've just got to be smart in how you go about it because if you lead with a forearm or you hit a guy in the head, it could be an unnecessary roughness penalty. So, you've just got to be smart.
Q: What do you see from (cornerback) Nick McCloud? It seems like he's really making an impact when he's in there.
A: Nick's done a great job. He's been a really pleasant surprise. He's stepped right in. And this kid is all business all the time. He is always locked in. He's always focused, and he's a young pro. He's a young pro's pro. I can't wait to see him keep going and growing as a player.
Q: This might be a dumb question, but you had three fair catches on four punts. Is that the goal on every punt? Just to have a fair catch? Or is there any times you actually want them to return it?
A: Situationally, sometimes, you might want them to return if you're trying to take some time off the clock late in the game or something like that. The plan is not to give up any return yards, and we all know who (Ravens wide receiver) Devin Duvernay is. He's outstanding. So, the goal was to make sure that he did not return the ball. And I think he had like 12 yards or whatever the whole day. That was the goal: to not have him return the ball.