Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
November 9, 2022
Thomas McGaughey: What’s up guys? How y’all doing today? Good to see you.
Q: How was the vacation?
A: It was good. Got a chance to move around a little bit, went to the city. Watched the (Michael Jackson) MJ musical.
Q: Was it good?
A: Unbelievable. Got to see it if you haven’t seen it yet. Then went to the Knicks game Saturday night. So moved around a little bit, had a little fun.
Q: How do you juggle between burying a player and picking him up with what (wide receiver Richie James) went through?
A: My whole thing is when I deal with players, it’s always to build them up, it’s never to tear them down. I tell them all the time there’s two types of knowledge in life, it’s borrowed and it’s bought. Sometimes you buy it, sometimes you borrow it, and Richie bought it. So, he’s just got to keep his head up. This game is about adversity and it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to what happens to you. It will be a test for him, and we’ll see what happens. We’ve got a lot of guys competing for the spot and we’ll see what happens.
Q: He lost the ball, what technically did he do not to grab it?
A: Probably the first thing he did wrong was wear sleeves, cotton sleeves. It was kind of cool out, probably wasn’t the best decision and that’s probably on me more than anything else to tell him to take them off. The second is he just took a shot. Like, you’ve got to hang onto the ball. That’s just football. Good fundamentals, good technique, keep the ball, double in trouble. When you get in traffic, you’ve got to cover the ball up.
Q: You don’t want guys to wear cotton sleeves ever? Why is that?
A: The ball will slip. Anytime you have a regular leather ball up against a smooth surface and it’s not skin, that’s something that you don’t want. You don’t ever want that.
Q: The running back can’t wear sleeves either right?
A: Yeah, that’s why you rarely see running backs have sleeves on.
Q: Did you say something?
A: No, it was my fault. I should’ve told him to take it off. I’m normally all over that. It was my fault. I slipped on that one.
Q: Is there some other type of material he could use?
A: No, skin. (laughs) When you carry the ball, you want that ball firmly up against your body and don’t want anything to make it slide or move while you’re carrying it.
Q: Are you at the point where if he’s healthy you want to give him another shot or are you at the point where you’re up in the air about it?
A: We’re going to let the week play out and see what happens. We’ve got a bunch of guys back there catching them. Obviously, you can’t put the ball on the ground. We all know that. That’s a no brainer. You know you can’t turn the ball over and put it on the ground. So, we’ll see what happens once we get towards the back end of the week.
Q: How did (corner back Darnay Holmes) end up at the top of that list?
A: Who said he was at the top?
Q: Well, he went back there at Seattle, and he was the first guy out here.
A: That doesn’t mean he’s at the top of the list.
Q: With a rookie like (wide receiver Kalil) Pimpleton, he’s on the practice squad so as you’ve said before, you’re not sure when moves are made by the people upstairs, if he’s active, that kind of thing, but when you’re dealing with somebody who has that success in college as a returner, how much can you work him in in practice to get him ready for if that opportunity arises?
A: Pimp’s been working all season. Since he’s been here, he’s been back there catching punts. So, he gets his work every day, he catches after practice. I mean all those guys are catching. Darnay’s catching after practice, during practice, but no, all those guys are back there catching. They’re all working at it and all trying to get better at it and that’s our whole thing. Just trying to get better every single week and contribute in a positive fashion.
Q: Why was Darnay the guy in Seattle?
A: Because he was the only other punt returner that was there ready to go.
Q: Is there a strong difference between the college return game and the professional return game?
A: Yes, it is a big difference. Most of the time in college because you have the influx of all the Australian punters, there’s so many of them in Division I football now. Most of the time when they catch the ball, it’s off a bounce. You rarely see the ball turn over and you get a 50-yard 4.5, 4.8 punt. You don’t see that a lot in college. Most of the time it’s some type of rugby end over end ball and it’s different. If you look at the rookie returners in this league over the first five weeks of the season, they had a lot of muffs because you just don’t see it. You don’t see the ball turn over; you don’t see the big balls being hit in college. It’s more of a line drive, 46 yards on the ground, it might roll for 20 or you might get one that’s going back across the field end over end. It’s just a different kind of spin.
Q: How do you approach teaching your rookies that?
A: Reps. Just reps. I mean, you can’t speed up the process. The process is what it is. So you can’t push a button and all of the sudden they can catch that ball coming out of jugs at 50 yards, 5.0 hang or with a lefty spin. That’s a whole other different subject. It’s a process. You can’t talk about going through the process without going through it. Being a process driven organization like we are, that’s just part of the process. Young guys coming in and learning how to catch a ball off the foot is just different.
Q: Can punt returners, no sleeves, put anything on their arms?
A: No. (laughs)
Q: Stick ‘em.
A: Yeah, you said that, I didn’t. (laughs)
Q: You’ve had (wide receiver Darius) Slayton and (corner back) Adoree’ (Jackson) in that role.
A: You’re right, you’re right. Slayton’s done it some but not as much as Adoree’.
Q: Are you even sure that Richie will be available Sunday because of the concussion?
A: I’m not going to talk about injuries, but like I said, those guys are out there working, and we’ll see what happens.