Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
November 17, 2022
Martindale: I was really pleased and happy for how we played last week coming off the Bye, defensively. You could tell that the fans (had) just come off a Bye Week as well. I mean they were jacked in that stadium, and we need the same thing this weekend. We’re getting ready to go against a really good offense, very explosive offense, a quarterback who was the first pick of the draft and you can see why, an offensive line that’s working really well together, and some skilled positions that are some of the better ones we’ve faced so far. Just like I say every week, we’re studying and seeing what we need to do to try and step up to this challenge. So, we’re really looking forward to it. With that, I’ll open up to questions.
Q: I know you’re going to say that you don’t focus on sacks because every coach says that, so how is (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) playing and what does he need to do to get to that next level where he does finish with some sacks?
A: I think with our system itself, like I said before, it’s a position-less defense, and when you look at the defense statistically in areas where there are a lot of sacks, he’s doing the selfless work. I always say we’re going to open up a can of whoop ass. Well, he’s the can opener. You have a guy running free to the quarterback, playing a single high safety. Well, he has to do the right pattern to get that guy free and that’s what pleases me about the guy himself. I know everybody wants to say, ‘sacks, sacks, sacks’ to him after games whenever you do the media with him, but if there’s 1,000 plays run and we’re happy with him in 950 of them, it’s better than the guy that has 12 sacks, plays 600 plays and can’t play the run, can’t do this, can’t do that. I just think the kid is playing great. It’s just like takeaways or anything else, the sacks will come. The other thing is to look at the holding calls he’s drawn, you know you look at the whole picture. He drops well in coverage. I can’t say nothing but positives about how he’s playing. How he’s chasing after the football like a veteran, studying like a veteran, leading like a veteran. So, I’m really glad he’s a Giant.
Q: Is there any part of you that has to speak to him? I mean he probably wants sacks because everybody wants those numbers. Are those conversations you guys have about what he is doing well even though it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet?
A: With me and Kayvon?
A: Yeah, I mean I talk to the whole defense that way. I can’t explain to you in words, this defense, this group of guys are the most selfless people I’ve been around in this profession. All they want is they want to see what’s on the left and what’s on the right in the win column. They have never flinched during a game. No matter what happens, they come back and they’re ready to go on the next play. But I talk to the whole defense about that. You say every coach says sacks aren’t important, he got the game winner against Baltimore, that was an important sack, but there are other things that go into it is what I’m trying to say.
Q: With Kayvon what does it show maturity wise for him to be able to be a part of that?
A: I’ve said it before, it’s like he’s got an old soul. We’ll play music before we start the defensive meeting. Like today was old school Thursday, it’s my favorite day and he knows all those songs, the bands, and everything else.
Q: What’d you play today?
A: Some Ohio Players, we played Zapp. I mean we played some good stuff.
Q: How aware are you of what goes on, on the other side of the ball? I mean that because obviously your offense hasn’t had to come back from a big deficit that you’ve put them in on defense. The Lions can score. If the Giants fall behind 10, 14 points, the offense isn’t really built that way. Does that put a lot of pressure on you guys to not struggle early?
A: We just want to do our job. Now, that’s a coaching cliché right there. I always say that we control the narrative. So, whatever happens, if we give up a big play, get them down so we play again. We can stop them. As long as they keep doing it one play at a time, there’s no evaluation of the offense or anything else. Had the guys, we did a little exercise in the defensive meeting room and that’s what one of the new guys had come in and said, ‘from other places I’ve been, it’s amazing all we do is focus on defense’, and that’s what we do. (Head coach Brian) Dabs (Daboll) and (offensive coordinator) Mike (Kafka) and those guys set up great game plans, I think. I’ve gone against them; I know in that way going against them, but in preparation of each game and they attack each game the way it needs to be attacked.
Q: You’ve had praise for (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) and the way he’s played this year. You look at last week’s game, even if you look beyond the stat sheet, he was affecting plays that you wouldn’t know unless you really broke down the film. Have you had a performance like that from an individual player in a while to be able to see what he did last week?A: With Dex, it’s like I said earlier in the year, he’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever been around because of the way he works. He’s selfless, like they all are. He’s looking out for the next guy and he’s playing at a really high level. It’s fun to watch him reap the rewards of all the hard work he’s put in since the spring. He’s taking care of his body; I think he really enjoys playing football. But have I seen one like that? I haven’t had time to sit back. I might be able to tell you that after the season is over with when we go back over the tape because we’re already onto Detroit after that, but he played very well, yes.
Q: What did you think of the way (safety) Dane (Belton) and (safety Jason) Pinnock sort of filled the void without (Safety) Xavier (McKinney) there?
A: I think they did a nice job. Each week is different, and we play different guys in different spots, as you’ve seen. I thought he prepared really well, he’s very serious about football, he’s another mature rookie that we’ve got that (general managner) Joe (Schoen) and Dabs decided to pick and that was great. I talk about organizational alignment all the time. The thing about the rookies is if they do make a mistake, and this is where you can tell that they’re studying, if they do make a mistake, it’s because it’s the first time that they’ve seen something. They don’t make that same mistake, they’re not error repeaters and that’s what’s brought Dane along and some of the other young guys as well. (Cornerback) Nick (McCloud), I call him Big Mac, he’s doing good things for us. Pinnock came in and played well, in a limited role. His role might grow. It all depends on who we’re playing, what personnel’s out there and things like that. So, I’m excited about the young guys.
Q: In terms of the young guys, why did you want to go with (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden) in place of (inside linebacker) Tae (Crowder)?
A: I just think that every lineup is written in pencil, not in pen. Micah was practicing well, Tae’s practicing well. We put Micah in there because of the practice he had the week prior. The initial plan was to rotate them, and Micah got hot when he was in there and I thought he played well, too. But Tae has practiced his tail off and he’s been nothing but a true pro. He’s going to get his chance, it comes right back to it. That’s what I told him is, ‘we’re going to go with Micah. How you handle this situation could be a turning point in your career if you keep attacking each day the way you have’. I thought Micah did a nice job.
Q: (Safety) Landon Collins and newcomer (safety) Terrell Burgess, how close are either of those guys to carving out roles and contributing?
A: I think Landon’s closer than TB just because of the time that he’s been here. I’ve never seen a roster move around the way this roster moved around with injuries and things like that. I can’t put a timeline on it, but I would say LC’s closer.
Q: We mentioned Dex, but two games ago right before the Bye, (defensive lineman) Leonard (Williams) had five quarterback hits, too. The two of them together, how much of that is the basis for what you can do with the rest of your defense?
A: Really for Leo, I’m glad you brought that up because I was going to say it then got asked another question Leo has played well the last three games. He’s coming off the injury and getting into the groove. I will say this, I’ve never seen a combo of tackles in my career like these two, both those guys. Credit to (defensive line coach Andre) Dre (Patterson) and (assistant defensive line coach Bryan Cox) B-Cox and that entire room because it’s a really mature room. They take playing in this system very seriously. Dex has played all over the place and people don’t even know it. Just because he’s listed as a nose, they think he's playing nose. There’s sometimes he’s played MIKE linebacker on third down. How he studies, how smart he is, what a great dude he is, and Leo’s the same way.