Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: I'm sure everybody's already talked about it, our thoughts and prayers are with (safety) Damar (Hamlin). When you see something like that happen on a football field, really, it's the first time I've ever seen it, something of that gravity. It makes you reflect that when you tell your players you love them, you really do love them. When you break a huddle and say family, it really is family. It was a tough thing to see and, like I said, all our thoughts and prayers are with him. I think it's great how the positive side is I think he's galvanized this league with this situation and really galvanized our country. That's a positive thing that makes you think, 'hey, we're going to be alright'. So, with that, I'll open it up with questions.
Q: What if some of your players, I would think this is natural, have some reservations about hitting guys?
A: There hasn't been any discussion on that. There was discussion on some guys that knew him and from what I understand, I'm not an expert on it, the chance of something like that happening is getting struck by lightning. I don't know the percentages, you'll have to talk to analytics, but it was just a crazy thing that happened at that split second. I've heard there's other sports that have more of these types of injuries than what football has had. It was devastating to watch. Like I said, I know I love our guys here and I'm really good friends with (Bills' defensive coordinator) Leslie Frazier and just texted him and said we're all praying and we're here for them. It was a tough thing because you put yourself, I think it's human nature to put yourself (in that situation), what if that's one of your guys? How they reacted to the entire situation, I thought, was spot on. The medical staff and all that, to me that builds confidence in our league.
Q: (Cornerback) Nick McCloud said yesterday that was the toughest practice he's had to go through, he has a good relationship with Damar and a guy like (safety Jason) Pinnock, played with him at Pitt. How much did you notice that, and do you have to keep an eye on them or talk to them and make sure they're doing alright now?
A: Yeah, I think you do it both privately and then we did it as a defense, too. Both of them spoke and I think that's good because communication, you keep talking about it. We talked about it again today, I asked if there was any updates, if anybody's heard any updates on it. I don't know the best way to say it, I'll just say it this way, they know our defensive meeting room is a safe place. We talk about anything.
Q: When you say both of them spoke, both of them spoke to the room?
Q: What was that like?
A: It's real, it's life. That's the thing that we say that this game is very relative to life in a lot of ways, and it was real, it was life because they were both very close to him.
Q: There's been a positive development this morning in terms of the prognosis. Was that before the meeting?
A: No, it must be after the meeting because JP (Pinnock) said there was going to be a eight o'clock meeting with the family and then he was going to find out after he got out of defensive meetings.
Q: How do you feel about the debate between resting guys and having momentum going forward? Obviously, you have that decision to make this week.
A: I think the philosophy is our philosophy. Where that's at right now, it's up to (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs, and I'll go with whatever Dabs wants to do and I'm excited. All thoughts and all eyes are looking forward to playing Philadelphia, going into that stadium and playing a division rival.
Q: Now that (safety) Xavier's (McKinney) back, what do you do with the green dot? Do you just keep it with (safety) Julian (Love) or do you go back to Xavier?
A: We haven't thought that far ahead yet. I'll talk to those two specifically before I say anything, and I'll let you guys know.
Q: Obviously this game is important to your players, they want to win, but in terms of the pecking order of the playoffs, it's meaningless. Also, you guys know there is only one of two teams you could play in the Wild Card round, the Vikings or the 49ers. I was wondering, have you guys done any work ahead at all on the 49ers even or a slight refresh this week on the Vikings? Since you do have a little bit of wiggle room here.
A: With the players, no we have not.
Q: But just in terms of coaches, have you?
Q: Just brushing up on stuff?
A: Yeah, and then the guys that work at breaking down tape and all that stuff, they're getting all that going because you can say playing this team is a 90 percent chance and then all of a sudden that 90 turns into zero. So, we've done that.
Q: How happy are you in retrospect that you were able to clinch on Sunday instead of having to do it this weekend?
A: I was happy (laughs). How happy can you be? I was happy, I was that happy.
Q: When you're in that moment and Dabs gets the Gatorade, videos show that you were right there with him and he's doing his fist bumps and everything. You've been here from essentially day one building this season, do you take that moment in? You've had a lot of great moments in your career but what did that mean to you?
A: Sure, you do, that's why you do it because I know the guy that he is, the competitor that he is, and the leader that he is. I was happy for him, also happy for myself, but I was really happy for him. You could just see him release it. Now, we're on to Philly.
Q: You're so composed, and you pride yourself on that on the sideline, he's kind of the opposite. What's your reaction when you see him basically turning red, throwing the headset, all that. How do you take that in?
A: It's just series of events. To me, I think to stay consistent is the best way for me to do it.
Q: (Colts head coach) Jeff Saturday obviously had some comments about (outside linebacker) Kayvon's (Thibodeaux) celebration the other day. Did you talk to Kayvon about it at all and then how did you feel about the entire sequence of events?
A: I think the company line is we're moving onto Philly, but I'll tell you this, he did not know that quarterback was hurt. He's a good guy and he did not know he was hurt. That's a dangerous play when there's two free runners coming off the edge of the backside of the quarterback, but he did not know that (Colts quarterback) Nick Foles was hurt and he wouldn't have done that if he did know that.
Q: Could you see how the optics looked bad?
A: Sure. To me, it doesn't look as bad as everybody's trying to blow this thing up as because I know he did not know he was hurt. I know the guy, I know the person, I know his heart. I get a little protective of that, I know I do, probably sounded that way, but that's just how I feel.
Q: Getting McKinney back and presumably (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) seems to be making that kind of progress as well. How, if at all, will that change the blitz rate, which I know is already tops in the league, or the way that you call your defense with both of them securely involved?
A: We talked about it last week, it all depends on the opponent that we play. How we're going to match up and there's just so many different things that go into it that I can't give you an exact answer. I know I feel a lot better that they're there. I think that (defensive backs coach Jerome) Rome (Henderson) has done a great job in the secondary room and (assistant defensive backs coach) Mike (Treier). We have developed some safeties while X has been out and now we've got even more players to add to the mix, which is exciting to me.
Q: How much better does that make the defense, at least the back end?
A: Oh yeah, I think it makes us better. How much better? We'll see. I think that the thing that's exciting to me is that we've come here, and we've built a playoff defense. Nobody can argue that, and I think we're starting to really catch our stride. They understand the value of each snap as it gets closer towards the end of the year. The young ones and the vets.
Q: (Defensive lineman) Dexter's (Lawrence) been a big part of the defense and I just wanted to ask you for some thoughts on him overall and also have you ever seen a defensive lineman make a play like he did Sunday throwing (Colts guard) Quenton Nelson to the ground with one hand and getting the sack with the other hand at the same time?
A: I like the visual picture you painted there (laughs), because it looked like he just picked him and threw him on top of the quarterback and tackled them both to me. Every great defense has a centerpiece. You go back and look at the defense that we're building with the great defenses of the past, they always have a great centerpiece. And he has definitely become the centerpiece of our defense and I think it's awesome. I told him yesterday I was so happy for him, proud of him, because he's a good person, he's smart, and he's worked his tail off. I think it's great when you see a player succeed who puts as much work in as he has.
Q: (Inside linebacker) Landon's (Collins) been biding his time, you said when he's going to get an opportunity, he's going to make the most of it. That pick-6.
A: I'm right again, aren't I? (Laughs) I'm just kidding. The pick-6 was great, it was great. He was in a very humbling position coming back to New York. The thing that I like to see about that is that he kept working, kept working, kept working. Had him for this game, had him up for Jacksonville, then we had one more call-up and selfishly I wanted to get him up for the Washington game and then we were ready to get him on the roster. It just goes to show you that you keep working, you keep battling, you keep trying, eventually you'll break through. I'm really happy for him. He calls himself a hybrid now if you want to know. I told him not one of whatever those little hybrids are, it's got be a sports car hybrid if there's such a thing.
Q: He likes that positionless defense?
A: Yeah, he does.
Q: You've been to the playoffs and a lot of your older veterans have, (defensive lineman) Leo's (Leonard Williams) never been there. Do you sense anything from him? That this means something?
A: It means something to everybody, it really does. Even if you have been to the playoffs, they know how hard it is to get there just out of respect for the league and the players that play in it. They're all getting excited and getting ready for that. It's fun to be around them.