Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: Happy Holidays. The new year's coming up, and what exciting times we have going right now. Everybody's talked about how we want playoff football around here. Here's what we need: We need playoff fans to show up for this game and be as loud as they can be. I know it's New Year's Day, so if you have one going on on New Year's Eve, keep it going. And take it all the way through the game. If not, get plenty of rest and be ready to be loud on Sunday. I can't wait for it; it's going to be exciting times here for our great fans and for our guys on defense.
Q: Did you foresee this – the opportunity for this team to take it deep into the season with obviously a great chance to make the playoffs? When you joined this program, did you foresee that?
A: I think that it just builds over time, I really do because it's one of those things that we followed Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll), and we've advanced his plan. I've talked already about organizational alignment and all those things. We just took it one day at a time and tried to be consistent, and here we are. And that's the same thing we're doing today. And that's the same thing we'll do tomorrow and throughout this thing because we found that's the best thing for us and the recipe to go with.
Q: You mentioned the organizational alignment, and you look at your defense and guys who are playing snaps – significant snaps – now were not with you in July, let alone going all the way back to the spring. What is it about what you guys are teaching, coaching, in your system and maybe the guys you brought in that have allowed them to take on roles late in the year when they really don't have that foundation from the start?
A: I think that's it's a credit to the players. First of all, the ones that we brought in. But I think it has to do with our system. I talked about having a position-less defense. It's really easy to teach, and it's flexible enough that if we're playing somebody and this is what he does best, we can put him in that spot. I think it's worked really well for us. It's not easy to plan out, but it's a lot easier to execute when you find out who you have up and all those things. And it's taught everybody in the room to have some resiliency and keep plugging away because their opportunity is right around the corner, and they're going to play. That's not just hot air that we're blowing at them, it's the truth. It's been a combination of a lot of things that make it all work but the system's flexibility, our coaches are great teachers and we get people caught up pretty fast.
Q: What went wrong on that third-and-17?
A: The third-and-17 – is that the one that put them in the field goal (range) after that?
A: They made a great play first of all. Credit to them. That kid's a heck of a receiver (Minnesota Vikings Justin Jefferson). But it's one of those things that if you have an NY on your helmet or the throwback Giants on your helmet, we're going to attack. We're going to try to win the game. At that time, we were tackling them, keeping them inbounds, keeping the clock running, doing all the things you do. We had the line for the kicker (Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph), and obviously he stretched that out a lot further than what he's ever done before. So, like I told the players, we executed the way we needed to execute, but it's like getting a half-court shot hit at the buzzer. You just tip your hat to the kicker, the field goal unit and to that team. Nothing went wrong except we just didn't get there and make the tackle fast enough. That's basically what it was, and the guy is a phenomenal player. I'd do it all over again just trying to win the game because that's who we are; that's just our mentality. I think the fans of New York appreciate that mentality. Once again, we're going to see it Sunday when they get loud on third down.
Q: Is that the perfect call offensively for what you're trying to do right there?
A: It worked against us. We're in a zone defense, so they hit a crease. And that's, like I said, you just tip the hat. We're going to win a lot more than we're going to lose in those situations, and we were trying to win the game. That's why I made the calls that I made.
Q: You guys keep re-shuffling, adding inside linebackers, Jarrad Davis now, Landon (Collins) obviously last week added to the active roster. How do you see that position, and specifically how is Jaylon Smith playing?
A: Jaylon's playing well. He's a first, second-down linebacker for us. He's playing well. Today we're going to give him a vet day. I think the wear and tear of the season is catching up with him a little bit, but you see it, we're going to play who thinks best, get them in there and go.
Q: You've worked for decades to become a head coach. I'm just curious: What was your reaction when you saw (Indianapolis Colts interim head coach) Jeff Saturday pulled out of the TV studio to get that opportunity this year?
A: You have to worry about the job that you have. And they've done a nice job of building a program there. And the owner can do whatever the owner wants to do. So, if you sat there and got mad, you'd be rolling that rollercoaster of everything else of what happens in this league. There's nothing that'll surprise you the longer that you're in it. And Jeff's done a good job.
Q: Is it a little disrespectful, though, to guys like yourself and others around the league who have paid their dues?
A: I don't look at it that way. I just try to be the best at my job that I can be. And if it happens, it happens because I think it changes your personality if you start thinking that way. You sound like that little kid (saying), 'Why did he get the new baseball glove, and I didn't?' So, I just look at it as, 'Let's go play some defense and get ready to get in the playoffs.'
Q: What do you feel like you can do to get to that opportunity?
A: I can't answer that question. I just think if you get the opportunity and it works out, falling back on it, you'll be where you're supposed to be. And I think if you look at it that way, you'll live a lot happier life instead of saying, 'Woe is me' and 'that's not fair' and 'he's so lucky' – and all the things that you always hear when you go back to your hometowns and visit, 'You're so lucky.' (You think,) 'No, actually. We worked.' So, that's just the way I look at it.
Q: What do you think of the job (coach) Drew Wilkins has done with the outside linebackers this year? Obviously, you guys go way back. You brought him here for a reason.
A: He's a phenomenal coach. When I got interviewed here for the defensive coordinator job, and you can ask Dabs to confirm this, I said, 'If it doesn't work out with me, you need to hire this guy. He is a special talent in this league.' I think he has done a great job with that outside backer room. And I think that our personnel has done a great job with the players that are in that room. And I think that it's going to do nothing but get better.
Q: How do you game plan for (Indianapolis Colts quarterback) Nick Foles this week knowing that, other than Monday night, you got to go deep into the archives to really dig into his stuff? How do you approach that, present that to your guys?
A: I think it's just respecting the game and respecting what he's done. They just don't give out Super Bowl MVP trophies. And he has one of those, and he's got a Pro Bowl and things like that. You can tell he has a live arm, and they're trying to push the ball down the field with him. (I've) been in it long enough that I've gone against him when he was at Philly and those other places. It's going go be a challenge because he's got plenty of weapons to work with. He's got two NBA players playing tight end (Jelani Woods and Mo Alie-Cox), and he's got a bunch of receivers with huge catch radius – anything that's close to them, they catch. So, it's going to be a great challenge for us.
Q: How much of a difference will it make if you get (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) back this week? Does he change the defense?
A: I don't know if he necessarily changes the defense, but just the player himself and the person himself, I would love if that happens. But I don't know. You have to talk to Dabs about that if we're close on that or not.
Q: What goes through your mind and your players' minds when you look and see that Colts gave up seven sacks last week?
A: What goes through my mind and the players' minds? I can't tell you what's going through the players' minds (Laughs). What's going through my mind is that at that time, that's the first game he's played in a while. So, it's going to do nothing but get better for him, seeing things, going at a faster pace of it. But there's definitely blood in the water.