Not many Jets fans are yet familiar with the name of Thomas McGaughey. But McGaughey is acquainted with the Jets and with one name in particular in the Green & White's coaching lineage.
"What Mike Westhoff's done in the league is unprecedented," McGaughey, the Jets' new special teams coordinator, told newyorkjets.com while sitting at the desk that Westhoff used to occupy as our STC. "People lie, numbers don't. And you look at the numbers he's had over the years, he's definitely a guy you look up to, a guy you follow and pick his brain."
McGaughey, who last week was named our new special teams coordinator after Ben Kotwica served one year as Westhoff's successor and then left for the Washington Redskins, is quite aware of Westhoff's body of work. And that's not just because he's an NFL fan or because he's held several assistant coaching positions in the pros.
"I actually interviewed for this job when Mike had to get surgery. That's kind of when we hit it off," he said, referring to Westhoff's February 2008 procedure to replace the prosthetic femur in his left leg. "Then Mike came down last spring to clinic us at LSU."
Louisiana State is where McGaughey had been the previous three seasons, orchestrating the Tigers' special teams. After "assistant assistant" stops with the Chiefs, Broncos and Giants, he had the urge and the plan to return to the college ranks and run his own unit.
"Obviously I did some coaching in the NFL, but I felt like I needed to get in front of the room and knock the rust off, have my own room and be able to coach my guys, coach my own ideas," he said. "After those seven or eight years in the NFL, I had a strong inkling of what I wanted to do."
He also played against assistant head coach/running backs Anthony Lynn when the two were in college and he knows D-line coach Karl Dunbar, who sent his son to an LSU football camp. With Kotwica's departure, head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik had a solid candidate ready to interview.
"This is something I've been working towards my whole professional career," said the soon-to-be-41-year-old McGaughey (pronounced Mc-GAY-hee). "To be able to be in this market with the Jets, this organization, and with the great history of the Jets, is truly an honor."
I asked him what trademarks he has and wants to see his Jets special teamers display beginning with the 2014 season. He spoke as a man with a plan, as someone who had been thinking about these things for a while.
"We're going to be fundamentally sound, we'll play with speed, we're going to be physical," he said. "We go into it thinking that way, and that's how we want it to come out on gameday."
And for Thomas McGaughey, the process of striving for those traits has already begun.
Here is a chart of the touchdowns the LSU special teams scored when McGaughey was their coordinator from 2011-13: