Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
McGaughey: Good afternoon, good people. How are you all doing?
Q: Be honest, did you know the illegal kick rule when it happened?
A: Never seen it before, honestly. It's been a year of firsts for me – that's one of them. I've never seen that play happen. Again, you live, and you learn.
Q: What's the difference between a drop-kick and a fumble? Is it just the judgement call?
A: Of the official, yeah. Obviously, as he's (punter Jamie Gillan) attempting to catch it, you have to pick it up and then drop it on the ground. So, it's one smooth, continuous motion. That, obviously, was not a smooth, continuous motion. So, that was kind of an easy call for the officials.
Q: Obviously, that was a weird play where their punter (Eagles punter Aaryn Siposs) got hurt, scooped the ball. What do you want from your guys on that play?
A: Chase him down and do exactly what they did. That's just a skill he's learned in Australian rules football. That's one of the skills that they have. It was just a natural, one smooth, fluid motion. He picked it up, and smart play by him. Anytime the ball's behind the line of scrimmage – it's blocked, and it's behind the line of scrimmage – both teams can advance it. So, he knew the rule. And he went and got it.
Q: How tricky is that if you have to decide whether it's past the line of scrimmage or not? Right when it goes past, you don't want your guys to touch it.
Q: So, when it's near the line of scrimmage, what do you sort of teach them to do at that point?
A: If it's anywhere close, we're going to get away from the ball. So, we give them a 'poison' call, especially if it's at the line of scrimmage. As a punt team, you got to cover it either way. And as a punt return team, you just got to make a good judgment call. You've got to see the flight of the ball, and then normally it's pretty clear (if) it's behind the line of scrimmage (or) not behind the line of scrimmage. But you got to be aggressive, and you've got to be smart at the same time.
Q: Are you sure all your players, in the heat of that moment, know exactly what the rule is?
A: As far as?
Q: As far as the ball being behind the line of scrimmage.
A: Oh, they know the rule. We talk about it all the time. We go through situations every week that happen throughout the league. We cover it every Saturday night – ball behind the line of scrimmage, ball across the line of scrimmage, players out of bounds on punts, holding calls, penalties. We go through the full gambit throughout the league. We've covered it multiple times.
Q: The question becomes judging whether it is or not?
Q: What did (cornerback Zyon) Gilbert tell you about why he didn't hit the punter there? Did he see him (Aaryn Siposs) step out – Zyon Gilbert?
A: I think he thought he (Aaryn Siposs) might have stepped out and didn't want to get a penalty right there on the sideline because it's just like a quarterback. You know, (if the) quarterback's close to the sideline (and) he steps out of bounds, you got to be smart. And we're always on these guys about making smart plays, especially because quarterbacks and punters are allowed basically the same protection. So, you got to be smart in that situation.
Q: What happened on the two kickoff returns – the long kickoff returns?
A: Just not getting off blocks. When the ball's kicked, we're covering down the field. I'll say this: There are some things that happened on the play that could have been seen, and it is what it is. But we got to do a better job of getting off blocks, using our hands and getting to the ballcarrier. That's something we've been talking about all week, and we've been working on.
Q: Did you scheme up the (outside linebacker) Elerson (Smith) block? Or was that just him and his length? Or how did that work?
A: It's a block that we've had all year, especially for that situation. Aaryn does a good job of getting the ball off quick. And we knew the only chance we had is to rush directly up the A-gap, and you had to have somebody with some length to get there. So, he did exactly what he was supposed to do – rushed right on the edge, and get that long arm up, 35-inch arm up, in the A-gap. He did a good job.
Q: He's been a healthy scratch for a few games. Does that kind of get you a jersey for the next week, if you block a punt, in your eyes at least?
A: It's a slippery slope. Obviously, I'm an Elerson Smith fan.
Q: (Kicker) Graham (Gano) does such a good job getting touchbacks that it was surprising actually even seeing them have kick returns. Was it windy or cold? Is that why? Or is that something you wanted – Philly to return kicks?
A: No, it was a little windy. And it's cold – just 38 degrees.
Q: Just harder to get touchbacks?
A: Yeah. We can line-drive it down there, but you also take a chance of him catching the ball four, five-yards deep and bringing it out. So, we were trying to kick it deep, but that's December football in the Northeast. This week, we're going to play Washington. It's going to be 28 degrees or whatever it's going to be with some wind. That's what it is.
Q: How comfortable would you be with (wide receiver Jaydon) Mickens if he has to be back there on Sunday night?
A: You know, he's done it. He's done it for six years now. He's more than capable. It wouldn't bother me at all.
Q: What about (wide receiver Kalil) Pimpleton – what do you see from him?
A: Young kid that's ascending. He's getting better every week. He's super talented, super quick. He's hard to get on the ground. Our guys struggle with him all the time. He has a definite skillset. He's going to be alright. He does a good job, and he works his tail off.
Q: If you guys struggle bringing him down, why not see if other teams would?
A: That's way above my paygrade. I just coach the guys that I get. He does a good job. And he's a talented kid that has a bright future.