Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: In reflection of the last game, I was really proud how hard we played for the entire (game), all the way up through overtime. I think that our guys took it one play at a time, and that was the goal going into it, and that's exactly what they did. I was really impressed with the level of execution of the gameplan and hoping to build on that this week. With that I'll open it up for questions.
Q: You love comparisons, well you play an MVP candidate this week in (quarterback) Jalen Hurts. You have one for him?
A: Well, I think the whole thing is like, I was telling the defensive staff, I know they're not going to play the Pro Bowl this year, but they're playing it in Philly because they're talented across the board. Jalen is getting into that level, that top-tier quarterback, because you can just see the jump. We went against him his rookie year when he was playing sparingly, and then last year to this past year, he's really worked on his throwing mechanics, his footwork, and it's paying off for him. The same way it did for Patrick Mahomes. If you go back and look at those comparisons, it's very similar. He is a triple threat.
Q: You don't strike me as a big Twitter guy, but you had two of your players speak out about their playing time on Twitter, (cornerback) Rodarius (Williams) and (inside linebacker) Tae (Crowder), do you have a problem with that?
A: Why don't I seem like a big Twitter guy? I'm more of a TikTok guy (laughs). TikTok has good golf tips on there, scare cam's one of my favorite things to see, and a lot of comedians. I think (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs hit on it earlier, it was taken care of internally, and like I said I'm not on Twitter, so I didn't really see it.
Q: I just asked because a week or two weeks ago in here you said it could be a big turning point in Tae's career how he takes it.
Q: Obviously it didn't seem like he took it well.
A: Yeah, well. Life is all about choices.
Q: How much was the other day sort of what you envisioned? You finally have (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) and (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) both back and healthy, what you were probably hoping for when you began the year. You saw kind of what I believe you were thinking about when you looked at the pass rush.
A: It was one of those things, it was obviously a big day getting after the quarterback, but we really haven't the initial starting lineup together since we started, if you want to really reflect on it. So, when you get the entire starting lineup together that's when it's going to be even more fun than what it was Sunday, but you can see the difference. You guys can see it, you can feel the difference or however you want to say it and just watching the both of them out there. I think he was on a pitch count, Azeez was, and (senior VP of medical services) Ronnie Barnes asked me how many reps he had I said, "I forget", I think he went over the pitch count. It's a tribute to Azeez too, because he's really worked his tail off in trying to get ready to go and get back from all the injuries that he's had. It's been a tough year for him, so I was really happy for him.
Q: We know you believe in pressure breaks pipes, but when you have those guys healthy how much does that change for you? Maybe you don't have to blitz quite as much.
A: Right, there's a definite mix. There's a definite mix you go to, and each game is different. This game's going to be a completely different game than the last game. Each game's different, and you go with what you think is best to win that game. I'll never turn down a free runner to the quarterback, and I know we hit that quarterback a lot last week. We'll continue to try to attack teams the best way we know how.
Q: You've only had Azeez for a couple of games.
A: Two and a half.
Q: Yeah, so you see the impact he's made. When you look back at the guy you came in (with) and watched film on, does he look like he's made that second-year leap even though he hasn't played that much?
A: That's hard to tell. That's a good question, but that's really hard to tell.
Q: I just meant does he look different than the guy you saw on film or is it just the same guy?
A: I mean, it's really hard to tell. I don't look at it that way. Right now, we're at the execution standpoint of is he doing the right things, being in the right place. Like I said, you can see and feel the difference when both those guys are rushing the passer, and they're playing at a high level. I think Kayvon continues to grow and get better every game. There's something new that stands out, and same thing with Azeez. Number one, I was happy he came out of there with no nicks and bruises, or just nicks and bruises. So, that'll be something I can tell you at the end of the year. It'd be more fair to me anyway.
Q: You've mentioned something stands out differently about Kayvon each game, what stood out about his last game?
A: It's just little things that people don't even see. Like, when he was the free runner to the quarterback which everybody thought in the stadium we had a safety, I know I did. He just came right off the edge where before he'd hesitate a little bit. Just little things like that. When you become a free runner like that and you're not used to being a free runner, you feel like you're almost falling off the edge of a diving board. You're waiting for somebody to get you and then your like 'oh, I'm free' and he doesn't hesitate, he knew he was going to be free.
Q: Was there something that (cornerback) Zyon Gilbert showed you specifically to get that call up and that heavy playing time last week or was that game plan to crazy jump guys?
A: It's a little bit of both, that's a good question. With the injuries that we've had we had to bring him up to have a corner out there and he's been practicing well really the last month. I can remember saying something to him a month ago. His red zone one-on-one coverage he was getting after the receivers, and it stood out. He's really starting to grasp the system and understand it, it's important to him, he wants to play. One of the best characteristics you can have as a secondary player, especially a corner, is tackling. He tackled and he was aggressive. It was fun for me to watch and I was really happy for him.
Q: How do you slow down (wide receiver) A.J. Brown?
A: Whew, got any ideas? It's like they've got (wide receiver Terrell Owens) T.O. back there playing again. He's a problem. We went against him when he was in Tennessee and he's a big physical receiver that you'd have to fight every play. I told (defensive backs coach) Jerome Henderson if he was a defensive player, he'd be an outside backer that's how physical he plays at wide receiver.
Q: (Cornerback Fabian) Moreau's never faced him. So, when you have a corner that's never faced a really good receiver is that a problem or not that big of a deal?
A: All I'll tell you is Fab studies tape like crazy. He'll study it and know all the receivers inside out, so we'll wait until Sunday to see where that goes.
Q: What did (cornerback) Nick McCloud show you to become for what looked like at least for a week the solidified number two corner.
A: He's just a football player, because it's not just number two corner. We play him everywhere. If you look at it, on third down, he goes inside, outside, doesn't matter just wherever we want that matchup, and I told you guys that after the Dallas game. We doubled 88 on the play and he got beat by the tight end, I said that was just a good throw and catch bud. But he is a football player. You can count on him, you can trust him, he works at it, he studies, he asks all the right questions. I'm really excited for this kid and his career.
Q: I was thinking yesterday and looked out and some of the guys, obviously (safety) Julian (Love) gets a rest day, (defensive lineman) Dex (Dexter Lawrence) gets a rest day. You guys start to put together your plan yesterday, how strange is that and how do you compensate for that, or do you, to make sure that those guys are ready. You're not just throwing away a day of practice for guys who obviously need the rest.
A: Well, the two that you mentioned definitely need the rest, with Dex and Julian and they're both two of the smartest guys on the defense. So, they can get their mental reps watching it, listening to the calls, so I'm not worried about that. I think that's a question that you'll probably be asking me every December because you get those guys that get high on the rep counts you've got to give them some time off so they can fill the gas tank back up to go on Sunday.
Q: After (safety Xavier) McKinney's appointment yesterday does you have any different kind of optimism about his status? Will he play this year?
A: I haven't even asked, I didn't even ask what's happened, where he's at or anything with it. I don't want to sound callus to that when I say I haven't asked because you know Dabs is going to take about all the injuries anyway. It's just one of those years where you just walk around shaking our head like I can't believe this because you're playing so many different guys at different spots with the injuries that we've had. That's why I like when I stand up here and say that I was proud of how hard we played as a defense last weekend, I've been proud of that all year. Whoever the 11 is that's out there I can guarantee you one thing, they're going to play hard. They're going to represent this city and they're going to represent this team the way it should be represented.
Q: Did you like (safety Jason) Pinnock's game the other day?
A: Yeah, I think he's coming along, he's doing some good things. I think that's great for him too.
Q: What is it about Hurts that makes him such a good runner?
A: I think it's the power and balance he has coming out of his cuts. So, he can get you running and when he sits down and makes a cut, he comes out of it with power, compared to a lot of guys. The thing that makes him so tough to go against, he's still looking to get the ball downfield until that last second where he says, 'no I'm going to go'. It's going to be a tough challenge for us.
You noticed that too.
No coach speak there.
Ouch. I guess that seals Crowders’ fate
You noticed that too.
Yeah I laughed too. None of this coach speak stuff, like "He's an important part of the team" or "He works hard and is a good guy".
*ILBs. Probably need to get him 2 impact ILBs with speed.
*A good CB to pair with Jackson. Robinson, Holmes, Flott, McCloud and Rodarius return as back ups. I still like Robinson in the old R.W. McQuarters role. He can play all the CB spots and probably S too. You can see why he was such a good interior player at UCF.