As Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll puts the finishing touches on his coaching staff, one man, Thomas McGaughey, continues to survive as the Special Teams Coordinator (STC). This will be T-Mac’s third straight stint as STC for yet another new head coach.
So, why is Coach McGaughey returning for his fifth consecutive season as STC? T-Mac has no prior connection to Coach Daboll. He interviewed with two other teams for the same position this offseason. I imagine his interview with Coach Daboll went the same as the others. The answer is pretty simple…T-Mac produces great special teams results with whatever players are on the roster. Sports Illustrated’s Rick Gosselin takes a deep dive into the performance of NFL special teams each year just after the regular season ends. My statistics cited from here are based on his rankings, and really tell the story of T-Mac’s success.
One of the only bright spots in the 2021 Giants season was the play of the special teams. The 2021 Giants were one of only four teams without a “negative play” on special teams. No blocked kicks or punts; no fumbles on punt returns or kick returns; and no opponent punt or kick returns for touchdowns. The Giants were tied for third in opponent starting position (just under the 24-yard line). In addition, the Giants led the NFL in allowed kick return yardage (just 17.8 yards per opponent kickoff return). To have a top-10 special teams grade in an otherwise dismal season is a true testament to his ability to teach and coach players. But, to do that with a revolving door of players (especially returners) due to injuries makes the results that much more remarkable.
The Giants were middle of the pack on special teams in 2020, Joe Judge’s first year as head coach. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on player availability week to week. However, the team was a top-5 squad in punts covered inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
But in 2019, T-Mac’s second year as STC under Pat Shurmur, the Giants ranked as the seventh-best NFL special team. The Giants finished as the third-best punt return team and second-best in kickoff coverage. In fact, if there’s one event that T-Mac’s Giants squad shines in year after year, it’s kickoff coverage. His teams are perennially a top-5 squad on kickoffs.
T-Mac won his battle with cancer in 2018 while continuing to be Shurmur’s ST Coordinator with help from Giants long-time special teams coach Tom Quinn. Again, the Giants shined in kickoff coverage.
Every head coach will tell you there are three phases of each game that are equally important, offense, defense, and special teams. Each year and every game, there are players that make the 53-man roster and then the 45-man gameday roster solely due to their ability to play special teams. These special teams players come and go with injuries, team needs at certain positions, and even when a player takes on a bigger role in offense or defense. T-Mac knows how to assemble and teach his players week to week. He never appears too high or too low in his demeanor and is a steady presence at all times. If you’ve ever listened to his Thursday media conferences, you will know one of his favorite phrases is, “That’s football!”
Yes, it’s easy to see why Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey is revered by his players and now his third successive head coach. As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke…” If T-Mac gets his wish, he’ll be a Giant for life.