Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
November 9, 2022
Martindale: Here we are again: recharged, ready to go, excited about the second half of the season. I’ll open it up for questions.
Q: How much does (safety) Xavier’s (McKinney) absence on the backend and wearing the (green) dot affect your defense and what you guys have to prepare for now?
A: I think there will be an effect. It could be a good effect or a bad effect. We’re going to find that out. I always talk to the defensive guys about (how) we control the narrative of every situation. There’s the situations, series of events, if you will, during a game that you’ve got to handle. (And there the) series of events during the season. I think we’ve done a good job of that so far, for the most part. It’s just another injury that we’re going to have to deal with and get ready to go play the Texans.
Q: Does it take more than one person to replace him? How do you see that playing out?
A: No, I think you just look at each game differently on what you need for that game. And different guys will step up and step in. (Safety) Dane (Belton) will get more playing time than he has. He’s come along very well as a rookie – all of them. Our organizational alignment has been fantastic as far as building the roster and continuing to build the roster for what we need schematically. It’s going to be a different look. I feel bad for the guy (Xavier McKinney) himself. I know he didn’t do it on purpose. I feel bad for his teammates, but you got a group of men in there that are just selfless and want to play for each other. And they understand series of events, and they’re going to be ready to step up and go play
Q: What have you liked about how Dane has performed, and also where are the areas where you’d like to see him grow a little bit?
A: I think that he’s a student of the game. He takes it very serious as a profession. That’s what jumps out at me. He’s a really mature kid for being a rookie. I don’t know if you all have had a chance to visit with him yet or not, but he’s very quiet. You got to get him talking louder and things like that, but I just like how he approaches the game. The plays will come for him because he keeps doing the right thing. He’s not an error repeater; he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. I think as a rookie, he’s ahead of the game.
Q: He had played a role as a third safety quite a bit in your defense. Who plays that role now?
A: We’ll change it around and just see who we have available on game day as far as different people playing different roles with that. So, I know that JP, (safety Jason) Pinnock, will come in and get some more playing time than what he has. And there will be others.
Q: What are your impressions of (Houston Texans running back) Dameon Pierce?
A: I don’t know who said something to him or did something to him to make him so angry, but that might be the angriest runner in the league. He is, I’ll give you my comparisons again: Old, old school, (former running back) Earl Campbell, Jamal Lewis. He’s (Dameon Pierce) one of those big power (running) backs that has great balance. Runs mad every time he touches it. Has quick feet. It’s going to be (a) tough assignment.
Q: Is he the guy you need to shut down?
A: Well, there’s others, too. They’ve got great speed with (Brandin) Cooks out there – the receiver. Their receiving corps is good, and their tight ends are really talented as well. I would definitely say that it all starts with him; that’s why he’s up for Rookie of the Year.
Q: Do you anticipate Cooks playing? He obviously didn’t play last week. How do you handle that at this point?
A: We anticipate it just like we did 14 (Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf) in Seattle was going to play. Everybody’s telling us he’s going to miss, and we just go until they give the final ‘who’s up and who’s down’ on Sunday. But I anticipate him playing, yes.
Q: When you looked at your defense over the bye, did you find anything that you said to yourself, ‘We want to definitely hone in on this.’ Maybe you can do it a little differently?
A: I think that, overall, there’s some things that stood out to us that we’re ahead of schedule on. I think situational football, we’ve handled that really well this year. And we’ve been successful in situational football and all those situations you want to look at: third down, red zone, two minute. There’s some other things that we need to shore up, but it’s one of those things when you go back and not just look at the last eight games, but you look at it by game, there’s different ways you play a game each week. So, you might have to give something to take something else away. And the bottom line when you look at it is, at the bye, you’re 6-2. That’s the biggest thing you want to look at is you’ve got six wins. There’s things that we continue to work on.
Q: With (defensive) Nick’s (Williams) injury, kind of the thinness of the D-line, how are you approaching that?
A: It’s going to be the next guy up. Hank (defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux) will come up probably for him or (defensive lineman) Ryder (Anderson) – one of those two. (General manager) Joe (Schoen) and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) handle that. It’s just the next guy up. We have a very solid outside (line)backer room as well. When you’re in sub (package), you call them defensive ends. When you’re in base (defense), you call them outside (line)backers. Some of those guys like Haddy (outside linebacker Jihad Ward) and some of those other guys can go inside, especially in pass rush situations. So, we’ll just keep hammering away.
Q: (What is) your comfort level with (safety) Julian (Love) now? He takes on a different role.
A: I don’t even hesitate. I’m very comfortable with Julian – have been since day one with both those safeties (Julian Love and Xavier McKinney). And they’re both bright, young players that are going to have great careers. So, I’m excited for Julian to have this opportunity. He does a great job communicating on the back end,