Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: For somebody who has witnessed what has gone on here the last five years, did you kind of take a moment on Sunday when you guys are running out the clock? What does that mean to you, having been a part of this?
A: It's the National Football League, and if you've been in this thing long enough, you've got ebbs and flows of the season and how it goes. And then the year, from year to year, obviously it's been a rough. But to be able to get back to a winning way and be able to play in the playoffs, play in the postseason, it's big.
Q: Do you think this has been (kicker) Graham's (Gano) best year since he's been here?
A: Graham's had some pretty good years here. It's one of his better years, for sure. I want to say a few years back, it might've been like 96 (percent), so he's had some pretty good years.
Q: The long ones are more this year.
A: Yeah, and with that being said, anytime – I want to say he has nine or eight.
Q: He's eight of nine on 50-plus (yard field goals).
A: Yeah, that's a lot of 50-plus kicks. A lot of made 50-plus kicks. And when you make those big kicks like that, longer kicks, they're also big. But that's hard to do, especially here in the Northeast where most of them have been made. He's not in a dome in Atlanta or in Dallas. So, it's tough up here.
Q: How comforting is that just as, not just a special teams coach, but for a head coach to know, 'Hey, if some of these games come down to the last possession that this is the guy you have,'?
A: That's huge for us. He's a weapon. You get a chance to know that at any point in time, once you cross the 50 (yard line) and you get into that area where he feels comfortable, that's huge. It's a comforting feeling to know that you have a guy that can get it done when you need to get it done.
Q: Sometimes when you have a weapon like that, you see teams kind of be more conservative and lean towards, 'Well we got this guy.' It seems like he allows you guys to be more aggressive. Is that fair?
A: I agree with you because once you get to the number, you know, 'Okay, we've got a field goal. Let's try and get the first down. Let's try and get more yards.' You know what I mean? He helps you that way.
Q: Is there anything he's doing differently this season that he's been able to make those?
A: When you look at his percentage over the years, it's been pretty good. He's continuing to stay in his routine, and just him and (punter) Jamie (Gillan) have a really good handle on the battery of the three. (Long snapper) Casey (Kreiter), Jamie and Graham have a really good working relationship and really relationship, period. They stay together over at the hotel. So, they're always around each other. I think that synergy of those three is really, really good. Obviously, that helps on gameday.
Q: We saw Jamie had a bit of a rough patch in the middle of the year. Are you seeing growth and more consistency from him as we get later in the year?
A: Absolutely. It's amazing. He put on a show out here yesterday. He hit a lot of big punts yesterday. He probably had like seven or eight of them that were five plus (seconds hang time). So, you see the maturation process of it. You see him getting better. He's getting more confident. Obviously, it helped that it was 63 degrees out here yesterday; it wasn't 33 (degrees). He's doing a lot better. He's working hard. That's part of being a young punter in this league,you're just trying to figure it out. And I think he's on his way to figuring it out.
Q: You know a lot about Giants history and lore and all that stuff in the postseason. It seems like every postseason run has a big special teams moment, whether it's (former kicker Lawrence) Tynes or the one in San Francisco, (former linebacker) Gary Reasons going back. Do you remind your guys of that at all here?
A: We talk about it a little bit. We always talk about the history of the organization, but for us, the most important thing is the game out in front of us. And it's special being in this place. We always point to the wall when we're in a meeting room. We talk about (former linebackers) Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks and those guys playing on special teams. It's always been a part of this organization – just big plays on teams. I just remember the '07 run when I was here; (Former wide receiver) Domenik Hixon (had) big kickoff returns in Green Bay. Really leading up to the post season, he had an 86-yard kickoff return against New England. So, just a lot of big plays that were made by guys during the stretch – obviously L.T.'s kicks, Lawrence's (Tynes) kicks in Green Bay. And being in that environment and just over the years, the history of it. It's been pretty big.
Q: What do you remember? I guess it would've been Week 17 back then in '07 – that last week – where after (former Giants head coach Tom) Coughlin came to you guys and said, 'We're playing all (our starters),'? What do you remember about that week – leading up to the game, obviously?
A: I want to say we came off the Buffalo game. And it was just all the hype on New England: them going 16-0 and the great (former New England Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady and (former New England Patriots wide receiver) Randy Moss and their great defense and (New England Patriots head coach) Bill Belichick. And that's all that was talked about the whole week. And we just went and played football.
Q: Was Tuesday and this week more challenging to come into work given what happened on Monday?
A: My son was here last weekend. And he's a Division I college football player at the University of Houston. We were sitting up watching the game. I think about my kids. I have kids his (Bills safety Damar Hamlin) age. I have a 28, 27 (year old): I got kids that age. As a dad, that's the first thing (I think about). I'm kind of getting choked up thinking about it. But that right there, when you see that, it just does something to you. And prayers for his family and what they're going through. But that was tough to watch.