Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
September 15, 2022
Martindale: Thought it was a great start. Really happy with how we kept attacking it every play. We said going into it we weren’t going to flinch. I told them I owed them my composure, and those guys just took it one play at a time. And I know that’s a cliché, but it didn’t matter what the series of events were. They stayed the same throughout the game, which is a big part of our success down there in Tennessee, and we need to just keep building from that. I know we’re talking about changing the culture and changing the culture defensively. This is one of the biggest changes you’ll see is this week to bring back great defense in this facility; and I’ve only lived here for a short period of time, but I know New Yorkers are loud. We need to be loud in that stadium. They have to go on silent count. If you want to be part of changing this culture here with the Giants, be loud and have that place rocking where people don’t want to come to our stadium. We’ll take care of the rest, and we’ll give you something to be loud about. But just be loud. I can’t wait to see it. With that, I’ll open it up with questions.
Q: You obviously did a pretty good job of containing (Titans Running Back) Derrick (Henry) Sunday. What were some of the keys to that, and what will be some of the keys to trying to contain (Panthers Running Back) Christian (McCaffery) Sunday?
A: I think the keys that we talked about prior to the Tennessee game was we set edges and we play with knockback up front, and we got everybody to the ball. And it’s the same thing playing Christian McCaffery. It’s crazy how this league is right now, and I know how you fantasy football players love it. But my goodness, I compared Derrick Henry to (Former Browns Fullback) Jim Brown. I knew exactly what I was doing. This guy’s (Former Lions Running Back) Barry Sanders. I mean, it’s unbelievable; and I know I’m going all old school, but I’m old. So, that’s where I’m at with it. This guy’s unbelievable.
Q: What do guys elite guys like that and (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) do to the defensive coordinator?
A: It keeps you up; you throw up a lot (Laughs). You don’t eat a whole lot. Well, I’ll still eat (Laughs); but it’s unbelievable. He’s a tremendous talent. And down there with (Panthers Quarterback) Baker (Mayfield) being there, it’s quite a challenge.
Q: Who’s Saquon then?
A: I think there’s a combo platter, and I haven’t thought about that. But he’s a combo platter between the two because he has power. You saw that. He was our best defensive player that we had Sunday – Saquon.
Q: Does it help you at all that you were in a division with Baker?
A: Oh yeah. I know him, and he knows me. So, it helps him, too. He’s one of those guys. And I’ve done this comparison before with him, and I said before when he first came out and playing against him, he’s a gun slinger. Who did they always call gun slinger? (Former Quarterback) Brett Favre. Right? And what did Brett Favre do? He left Atlanta, went to Green Bay, and he took off. Might be the same thing here for Baker.
Q: With the way you had (Cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson) travel a lot with (Titans Wide Receiver Robert) Woods, I don’t know if that’s something you’ve done a lot in the past. I don’t believe it is. But, is that something you plan to do before?
A: It all depends. It all depends on the call. It all depends on who we’re playing, how we’re going to attack it. So, that’ll change. That’s the beautiful part of the scheme itself.
Q: What do expect the crowd to be like?
A: I hope it’s loud and having a great time. That’s what I hope it is. That’s what I expect the crowd to be like. I know this place loves defense, so we’ll do our part. You guys do yours. That’s the way I look at it, and it’ll be fun. It should be when you come to the stadium.
Q: You only had a 25 percent blitz rate on Sunday. Are you going conservative on us?
A: Is that – who is that blitz rate compared or based off of?
Q: Your past.
A: Who takes that? PFF? Where’d you get it from?
Q: Official stats.
A: Okay, official stats. We’ll see.
Q: You have a higher number, I assume, in your mind.
A: No. We’ll see.
Q: I’m saying you think you blitzed a higher amount than that?
A: It’s just different because you’re playing bigger people, so it’s harder to see sometimes when you’re playing bigger people.
Q: How big a difference is it with Aaron Robinson being out, and…
A: First of all, I’m glad he’s healthy and safe. That’s got to be quite a scare for a guy that young to go through that. It’s going to be a challenge like it always is. There were challenges we had last week. I’ve always said, ‘No one cares about your problems.’ Ninety percent of the world, glad you got them or don’t care about them. And 10 percent, glad you got them. That was the old Lou Holtz saying. So, we’ve just got to keep playing.
Q: Do you address his absence with more than one person in your mind?
A: We’ll see. You know how that goes. That’s all part of this week, too.
Q: What does (Safety Dane) Belton give you now that he’s back?
A: I think he’s physical. I think he’s fast. I think he knows the system. We just got to knock the rust off of him. So, we’ll see how he feels when he’s out there, and we’ll just slowly build with him.
Q: Tennessee has some success with their running backs matched up against your linebackers. Obviously, this opponent, they have maybe the best guy in the league. How big a challenge is that, and how do you look at that going into this game?
A: It’s a huge challenge. And we got to continue to work on it. There’s some different looks that they gave us, and the kid that they brought up, they just took off the practice squad. So, I saw that like the night before the game. We know who Christian McCaffery is. I’m not saying we didn’t know who the kid was. I’m just saying he got brought up the day before the game, or the day of, maybe.
Q: As a defensive coordinator, do you have to pick your poison in preparing for an opponent? Did you try to shut down Henry and say, ‘Alright (Titans Quarterback Ryan) Tannehill’s going to get some yards?’
A: I mean, including poison in the sentence is a good thing, I guess. I think that you have to keep it moving. I say that we dictate to the offense, too. That’s one of the things people know about us and are going to continue to know about us as we go forward is how we play the game. And then, we throw the changeup and things like that. Are they going to pick their poison and keep everybody in to protect on third down because they know they can’t pick up the pressure package? I don’t know because then there’s only three receivers going out there. That’s advantage defense. So, we’ll see.
Q: Do you go through the week not expecting to have (Outside Linebacker Kayvon) Thibodeau and (Outside Linebacker Azeez) Ojulari, and if they’re available on Friday, great? Add them in to whatever you already planned?
A: That’s exactly what we’re doing.
Q: How big a benefit is it if or when they do come back?
A: Well, you’re talking about two first round picks, so it’s a huge benefit. But no matter what, that game’s going to get kicked off.
Q: Can you talk about the job that (Outside Linebacker Oshane) Ximines and (Outside Linebacker Jihad) Ward did in their place?
A: First of all, Jihad Ward was defensive player of the game. I mean, and that was unanimous. So, he’s a physical, tough guy that is the character of what you’re looking for as a defensive player. He sets the pace, especially in the run game on setting the edges, and he took it personal that game, and that’s what has made him who he is. And wherever I’m at, I hope I have Jihad Ward with me. Ox, as I call him, has done nothing but worked hard and kept earning trust and kept earning more and more playing time throughout the spring all the way through training camp and the preseason. And I think he did a great job for us in there. He’s making plays and doing things the right way, and that’s why he’s where he’s at.