Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: Do you guy's clocks get thrown off with this stuff? Or is it just coaches and players? Like it's usually Thursday but now it's Wednesday or is that just me being old. I hope everybody had a good Thanksgiving. 7-4 heading into December when all the fun begins, and we've got everything in front of us. We're looking forward to the challenge of playing Washington and it's going to be a great challenge here. Very talented at receiver and running back. Their quarterback, he's got the hot hand right now and he's playing really well at a high level. So, it's going to be a great challenge. With that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q: We haven't spoken to you since (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) got hurt. How much of a impact does that have on you and what you guys have tried to do?
A: I think it will be one of those things at the end of the season we'll look at the total impact of it. The biggest impact is on the person himself because I know how hard he's worked and how well he's played. That's the toughest thing to see a thing like that happen. We've been dealing with injuries all year and we've just got to put the next guy in there, but I miss the person that's out there on the field. He's out there right now during walk-throughs, talking to the corners and still leading like a champ. I can't wait until we get him back and I have no idea when that will be.
Q: How much does it change what you can do when you don't have a cornerback that you can say, 'ok, I can put him on the other team's best receiver.' Then maybe move him around?
A: I think there's not a overall huge change because every week we try to do something different and we're going to look at the win probability of it, of what we do and what plan we go with. It's just the toughest thing is when you have somebody that you're working that week and then something happens to him during the game. That's the thing that affects you.
Q: Does it upset you that you lost him on a play that wasn't on defense?
A: We have great communication here in the building and we know where we're at and what we're building. I feel bad for the guy.
Q: We talk about sacks all the time and it's not all about sacks but when you get so many pressures and there's no sack to go along with that, would you like to see a sack mixed in there once in a while? Do you think there's been any frustration getting so many pressures without the sacks?
A: I give (Dallas quarterback) Dak (Prescott) all the respect in the world. He stood in there and took some hits. To me, sacks are a lot like turnovers, they'll come in bunches when they do. When you look at the quarterback hits, then look at the completion percentage of the quarterbacks in this league and I think we're third overall in both hits and quarterback completions against us. Low rate, saying a good rate for us.
Q: Where does the pressure percentage come in for you, in terms of stats that you look at? Does that come in higher than the sack percentage?
A: Yeah, I think that the sacks will come. When are the sacks occurring? When they have to hold the ball to make a play. I alluded to (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux), who I thought played his best game to date against Dallas. When we were playing Baltimore, that sack. (Safety Jason) Pinnock, to end the game basically. When they have to hold the ball because that's the other thing you look at is how fast the quarterback releases the ball against your defense. I think we're third in that as well. I think they're third in all three categories, if I remember correctly.
Q: When everyone plays Washington it's a lot of talk about their defensive front and their four first round picks, that's not your concern obviously but you guys have three, there's a defensive front guy with Kayvon, you have three first round picks. Should your defensive front take a backseat to anybody in your mind?
A: I love our front. I love the front that we have, and I haven't studied other people, that will be in the offseason when we do that. I know they play really well there in Washington, too, their front. So, I'm just looking at what's best for us to win that week. I'm not thinking about backseat, front seat or anything else.
Q: Do you think your defensive front can take control of the game?
A: Yeah, I hope so. I mean, that's the plan. Then they snap the ball, and we'll see what happens.
Q: Do you feel like you're going to have (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) back this week?
A: I think (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs is going to answer that one, if we'll have him back or not. I hope that we do.
Q: How much have you missed him?
A: A lot. It sounds like a Hallmark card, doesn't it? (Laughs) I've missed you a lot.
Q: You've mentioned that you've never seen a roster move around this much before. How have you handled that as a coach?
A: I think it becomes the norm after a while. It's just like I asked you guys when we came in, 'does this throw you off being here Wednesday instead of Thursday?' because it does me. The way it's been this season, it's just sort of become the norm that 'ok, here's who we have, let's plan it this way, let's do it this way.' It's really become the norm, which that's not a good thing to say, I understand that, but that's where we're at.
Q: What you'd think of (cornerback) Rodarius (Williams)?
A: I thought he played well, I did. He really hasn't played in two years and to come in there and play the way he did, I was really pleased with him.
Q: Can you speak to what you've seen from Jason Pinnock and his contributions?
A: I think that he's done a great job. Still has a lot of things to learn as far as being an every-down player, an every-down safety, but I think he's done a great job since he's stepped in. We have other guys, too, that we'll mix into those roles.
Q: Dabs has spent most of his career on the offensive side of the ball, so I'm just curious behind the scenes, how much input does he have during the week, during the games, with what you're doing?
A: We meet with him every week, every day, every week. What's great about it is he gives us the offensive side of it, 'here's what I think they're seeing' and that's been great. That's been helpful to me and the rest of the defensive staff.
Q: What do you think of your run defense and how does your run defense stop (running back Brian) Robinson and Washington?
A: We're just going to have to get 11 hats to the football, and right now statistically, our run defense isn't very good. We need to continue to work on fundamentals and technique and getting everybody to the football. When you start putting in all the other runs, the wide receiver sweeps and all the other plays off of it, I think run averages are up across the league, but I think we need to get better at it.
Q: What do you see from Robinson? It seems like it's a pretty amazing story everything that happened to him, for him to be back. It seems like the last couple of weeks he really started to hit his stride.
A: Yeah, he's a load. He ran over that corner from Atlanta. He seeks out contact, so he's going to be another one of those tough backs that we're going to have to get a lot of people to the ball to get him down.
Q: You've been pretty open since you've got here about how you guys are going to dictate to the opponent. You're not going to sit back and let the opponent dictate for you. Do you feel like you guys are in that position, or do you have to do more to dictate defensively early on in games?
A: Right now, we've done a nice job coming out of the gate usually as a defense. We've just got to make sure that we can extend that period of time of playing. Starting fast in the second half, I think, is a focal point this week that we need to have. Do I still say that we dictate to the offense? Yes. I think we dictate to the offense, but you can do it in different ways like, I've said before, as well.
Q: Can you dictate when you have all the injuries?
A: Yeah. We're not going to use that. If you want to rush three and watch (quarterback Taylor) Heinicke sit back there and pick people apart like he does when you're rushing just three guys, that'll be a boring game to watch.
Q: Did you challenge Kayvon at all before the last game? Do you coach him that way ever?
A: Yeah, I think challenge might be a strong word. I just have confidence in him. I just know that he's on the rise, he's on the come. He's much better than what I originally expected as far as all the other little stuff. I'm not saying that just him personally, I'm saying rookies, he's much further ahead than most of the rookies in his class as far as how he prepares for the game and his knowledge of the game already and of the defense itself.