Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: How great is it to be playing in a meaningful game here in December. I think we're right where we want to be to go play this game. All we're doing is picking it up where we left it off and it's going to be a great challenge for us. With that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q: Do you look at this as the fifth, sixth quarter of last game?
A: You can. Every game's a new game. I know you're trying to be 1-0 at the end of this week but that's what you felt like afterwards coming out of there. Matter of fact, I said that to (head coach) Ron (Rivera), I said, 'see you in two weeks'. I have great respect for the team and especially that offense, they're very talented, they've got talented skill, they're talented up front and they're talented running backs. So, we've got out work cut out for us.
Q: In your past you've always had really strong run defenses, why do you think that's been such a struggle this season?
A: I think we're going to continue to work on it. We understood the process of building a roster of what we needed to do. It's been a struggle. We've played with more DBs than we ever have this year, just to change things up. So, I think that's part of it. I think teams are just running the ball more and we've played three really good mobile quarterbacks. What do they call them five-tool players in baseball? They're five-tool players as quarterbacks. I think that has a lot to do with it.
Q: What do you attribute the lack of success for you guys from stopping teams from running at your edges?
A: I think there's a multitude of things that we're working on to try to remedy that. I don't think it's just always on the edges, I think there's some right up the middle too that we've had some issues with. So, it's like one of those things when you start working on it, you're plugging the dike. I'm running out of fingers and toes to plug the dike. So, we're just going to continue to work at it and try to get better and play better defense, coach better defense, and go attack this team just like we do every Sunday.
Q: I think one of the things you do is you probably show teams something they haven't seen before on film when you're devising your game plan. When you play a team two weeks later, what's the balance there? Do you try and come up with something totally different or keep doing the things that worked?
A: I think there's a little bit of both. I think both teams look at it that way but that's a great part of our scheme itself, is we can give multiple looks and try to confuse your opponent. Same thing back end wise and everything else. It's a challenge, no doubt. I've never done this before in my career, played a team that's playing us back-to-back, they're playing us back-to-back.
Q: I think I'm correct in that you were a big (defensive lineman) Dexter Lawrence fan before you got here to coach him. I'm just wondering under your coaching, under (defensive line coach) Andre Patterson's, how have you seen Dexter kind of either blossom or almost emerge more than we had seen previously?
A: I think it's all credit to Dex. He had a really good offseason, he was here all during the installs, he's smart, I think he enjoys playing in this defense and I said it when I took the job here that he should be a Pro Bowler. You could just see it in the kid himself. Then after I got to know him, I could've guaranteed you he's going to be that type of player because of how much he loves football, how much he loves his teammates, he's selfless and he's very accountable to everybody in the room.
Q: Last year, weren't you with the Ravens when the Browns had the Bye in between your guys two games?
A: It might've been. I don't remember.
Q: I was just going to ask you if you remember then handling the second game a certain type of way over the first one?
A: No, like I said, I don't remember it. Might've happened, but I don't remember it that way. It's one of those things that it all becomes a blur after a while.
Q: Did you coach any differently in the first game knowing that you were going to be their next opponent too?
A: No, that would've been really smart though, I should've said yes. We were just trying to play that game and win that game. You always try to hold something back during a game and bring it out in the fourth quarter, I'm talking about each individual game, not just this game but every game. So, I wish I could tell you yes, but I'm too honest. What is it, I'm too dumb to lie?
Q: Do you go down to that sheet? Like you said, you usually have stuff in the fourth quarter that you haven't used that you try to use. Or something that you didn't use, and you try to put that at the top of the list for this?
A: Yeah, exactly. That's exactly right. It's one of those things that the players know it, too. 'Hey, I'm holding onto this, I'm holding onto this.' Just like the Baltimore game, we had some things different that we turned on in the fourth quarter that helped us, just for an example.
Q: It seemed like (cornerback) Fabian Moreau got off to a really good start this season playing opposite of (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) and when Adoree' went down these last couple of games, Fabian's had four penalties I think the last two games. Then it seemed like (wide receiver) Terry McLaurin gave him a handful. Is it a case of overexposure with Fabian playing more than he was expected to in a bigger role? Or what do you see from Fabian in these last couple of weeks versus earlier?
A: I think Fabian's done a great job. I think he's been a great surprise for this organization for the defense, for the team. I think that's the life of a corner, is what you just described right there. I'm just expecting big things out of him not only this game but the next four games. Sometimes you end on top on those 50/50 balls, sometimes you don't. The penalties, sometimes they're just out of your control. We don't make the rules, we just try to play by them.
Q: You guys were forced to wait to see (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) and (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) together for what seemingly felt like months.
Q: Seeing them together the last couple of weeks, is that kind of what you envisioned and how much can you build off of that with them out there together?
A: You can't help to sit here and wonder what it would be like if Azeez was healthy all season. What has it been, four games? He's got 4.0 sacks. I think he's done a great job of coming back and these next four games are going to be obviously very important to him and us.
Q: Do offensive guards have particular trouble against edges? It seems like sometimes you scheme that up.
A: It goes game by game. There's guards, there's different tackles, there's different ways that you attack them. It goes game to game, but guards are usually not as good in space because they'd be tackles if they were. You know what I mean? Seriously.
Q: Are you an arm length guy, like at the combine?
A: Oh yeah. Bigger, longer, faster, that's what I like. Yup, no doubt.
Q: What does (cornerback) Rodarius Williams have to do to get back on the field in your mind?
A: I think it starts at practice. He's got to be consistent in the way he practices, and he's done that. He had a real good practice yesterday, much better practice yesterday. We'll see what he does today, and we'll go from there.
Q: With having Azeez back and now Kayvon together, how does that help you scheme the overall defense as a whole? Knowing that those two are there?
A: Every time you get a good or great player back, it helps you scheme a lot easier. Then you can either do more things with them or less things with them because they can just win their one-on-one matchups. So, it does help. You can give them different looks, too, the opponent. Like I said, he's done a really nice job and so has Kayvon.