Recently, the New York Jets hired Thomas McGaughey as the new special teams coordinator. There was a vacancy, as Ben Kotwica opted to work for Washington instead, amid HC Rex Ryan's contract negotiations. Kotwica was a longtime assistant with Gang Green, while McGaughey is an outside hire.
Rex Ryan believes in promoting from within and having smooth transitions as staff members move on to higher positions. Last year, longtime assistant Dennis Thurman was promoted to defensive coordinator, and longtime assistant OL Coach Mike Devlin was made fully in charge of the line. When Rex became head coach in New York, he promoted Kotwica from quality control to assistant special teams, and last year when Mike Westhoff retired, Kotwica was once again promoted.
I was definitely hopeful for Kotwica. He must have learned a thing or two under Westhoff, and supposedly, Westy had given him more and more responsibility over the years. At the end of the season, I'm not sure how to assess his first year as coordinator.
It can be argued that, unlike Westhoff, Kotwica didn't have good players. On the other hand, it can also be argued that Westhoff was always able to make something out of the players he was given. I'm still scratching my head as to what happened with Joe McKnight, and I can't understand why Jeremy Kerley loves to fair catch so much. At least Kerley stopped muffing the punts, right?
The no-return-man look was a bold call. The no-return-man look on multiple plays in the same game was even bolder. If they had blocked the punt, we would have hailed Ben as a genius. Instead he gets the blame. But should it fall on Rex instead, as he allowed that to happen under his watch?
K Nick Folk deserved to be in the Pro Bowl this season. If Kotwica gets the blame for the bad, I think he should get credit for the good as well. Supposedly, he lightened the load for Nick during the week, which meant that he was stronger for the game.
And the special teams unit did eventually get a touchdown. Antonio Allen was able to block a punt and scored. Still, they were not able to return a kickoff for a touchdown, which Westhoff's units had accomplished every year, along with some punts returned for a touchdown in some of those years.
To wrap up my assessment of Kotwica's first and only year as the New York Jets special teams coordinator, it is this: iono. He could end up being great in Washington, and it wouldn't shock me. I hope so, actually, because he seems like a great guy. But I just don't know.
What I do know is that Thomas McGaughey knows special teams. He has been an assistant STC in the NFL for many consecutive years for multiple teams. McGaughey was the special teams coordinator for Lousiana State University for the past three years, and Football Outsiders ranks that unit in the top ten each year. (However, according to the same site, they were already pretty good before he got there.) He has a proven track record running his own unit.
I liken this hire with the Mark Carrier experiment. Remember when Rex hired the longtime defensive back to coach the defensive line? Maybe he wasn't so bad in the role, and maybe he could have been great, but why not get a guy with a proven track record if you can? Karl Dunbar certainly had that, and I have the utmost confidence in him. I hope we see the same result with the special teams.
In conclusion, I like the hiring of Thomas McGaughey, not to be confused with this guy, or this guy, or this guy, or this lady, or this thing, or this thing. I am confident in his ability to lead the New York Jets special teams. The real question is, how the heck do you pronounce his last name?