Special Teams Coordinator: Thomas McGaughey
Q: We asked you last week about putting (wide receiver) Parris (Campbell) back there. When you have two returners back on a kickoff, what's the difference there? What's the benefits of that?
A: Just more personnel driven. Depending on the formations that we use, depends on who we have up, who's available, and just being able to get his feet on the field. It definitely helps. We're moving in a better direction when it comes to that.
Q: Because of using two?
A: Yeah. Just having a little bit more speed on the field.
Q: What did you think of Parris' return?
A: It wasn't bad. We could have blocked it up better. It was what I expected. Even though it wasn't clean as I wanted it to be, it wasn't. For him to get to where he got to without it being clean and just using natural run skills, that's kind of what we expected from him. So, we've just got to get better. Just upfront, just making sure that we're finishing blocks, being in the right spots, taking better angles, just details of our job. That's it.
Q: Why didn't you give (Commanders wide receiver) Jamison Crowder more of a look at punt returner here?
A: All those guys were back there returning kicks every day and returning punts every day. It was just more of trying to get (running back) Eric Gray comfortable. We knew what Jamison was. He's done it in the past and we knew he had the ability to do it, but just trying to get Eric back there comfortable doing it again.
Q: Is it fair to say that (punter) Jamie (Gillan) is taking the next step this year, and what do you attribute that to?
A: He's definitely taken a step forward. I think I attribute it to him just getting more comfortable in who he is and just trying to use his skillset better. Those rugby guys, I mean, they're different. Jamie is one of the best ball strikers I've ever coached, and he can hit a variety of different punts. So, just trying to do a better job as a coach managing him, trying to put him in a position where he feels comfortable, and he's not thinking, he's just letting that muscle memory kick in. He's done a really good job of developing his routine and coming out here and just working hard and just trying to work at the different types of kicks that he has.
Q: Was that a change that you guys made, intentionally saying, 'Alright Jamie, I'm going to give you a little bit more freedom to do some of the things you're more comfortable with?' Because that style seemed to be out of his game last year.
A: It's something we definitely went towards last year. If you remember, the last part of the year, we used it a couple of times. Just, again, allowing him to mature as a pro and just understanding who he is as a coach, and just trying to put him in the best position where he can maximize his talents and his abilities.
Q: Back to Crowder for a second. He's made a couple of big plays for Washington. Did you still think he had that in him?
A: Yeah, I mean, he's a good player. I'm not going to take anything away from Jamison. Jamison is a really good player. Like I said, he did a good job while he was here. When he was at Buffalo, he's done it. Jets, he did it. He's having a good year. He is. He had a 61-yarder last week. That was a big return. So, he's doing a good job for them.
Q: This is more of a general philosophical question, not related necessarily to you. You've got a couple teams in the league this year that went away from veteran kickers who have been very, very successful and consistent. Obviously, (kicker Robbie) Gould in San Francisco and (kicker Nick) Folk in New England. So far, six games in, it hasn't look like it's worked out for either team. You guys have a really good veteran here. Obviously, he's been doing it for a bit. How difficult is that when management or whatever wants to go make a change there and maybe sees a young guy, they want to try to get younger, longer, or whatever it is when you know you have something good already in hand?
A: Yeah, I mean that part of it, the decision, that's out of my hands.
Q: I just mean you as a coach, I'm not looking for you to comment on San Francisco or New England, I'm just saying how difficult is that? Are you a guy that wants to fight for the guy that's been doing it for you?
A: Yeah, you always want to have the veteran guy. When you have a proven guy, you don't want to give away a proven guy. You get a guy that's done it for a long time. Because I tell people this all the time: once you get on the kicker train, the destination is unknown. So, when you're on that train that's been steady, and you know the destination, you know exactly where you're going, you like to ride on that train. But when you get one you really don't know, you think you know, but you really don't know until you know, you could be anywhere. You can look up and you could be halfway across the world before you find another one. That kicker train is dangerous. It can take you anywhere.
Q: How much are you happy that you're not on the kicker train?
A: I love it. I love it. Trust me, I love it.
Q: The play at the end of the half there, and situations like that, how much are you involved knowing where it's a tight situation, 'Hey, we're going to need X amount of seconds to run our guys out there?' And do you discuss the play calling in that moment with them?
A: Yeah, we practice stuff every day. Like today, we'll literally go through one of the same situations. We do it every Thursday. We talk about it. We are all talking about it at the same time. We kind of know what we're going to do and how we're going to do it, how we're going to handle it. But there's definitely a plan going into those situations, and we're talking constantly on the headsets through it, throughout the whole drive. You know what I mean? It's not just like we get down there, we just start to talk about it. We're talking about all the way through the drive.
Q: What makes (Commanders punter) Tress Way so challenging to field and how do you get prepared for that?
A: Well, the good thing about it is Eric sees it every day in practice with Jamie. They're the same style of punter, big lefty power punter. So that's a good thing for us. Another good thing is that we practice out here in these elements in the wind even though it's beautiful today. Haven't had any wind the last two days and it's going to be 36 miles an hour gusts on Sunday. So, that's part it. We'll get him ready because Tress, I explained to the guys today in the meeting, he gets great direction. He's going to paint the stripes, and then he'll hit one short and it might roll for 15, 20 yards and then he'll hit one deep. That's just who he is. They do a really good job of covering. Their gunners are really good. Their interior is good and that's why he's been in the Pro Bowl a couple of times the last two years.