Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
It's always fun when you have this press conference because it's spring and we are getting ready to go. With that, I will open it up to questions.
Q: We saw your reaction to the (cornerback) Deonte Banks pick. You looked pretty excited. Just talk about what you like about him, and how important is it to have a cornerback like him in your defense?
A: Well, I think it's important to have a cornerback like that in anybody's defense. He's very instinctive. What's Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He's got a short memory when things don't go right. He's tough minded, he's physical, he can tackle and on top of that, he can run. So, we're excited about it. He's getting into the groove. There're still some rookie mistakes, which you expect that, especially this early, but we're really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket.
Q: Does (general manager) Joe Schoen still have some marks on his back?
A: I hope so.
Q: How much is the addition of Banks and the other guys that you brought in on the secondary going to help with the pass rush and getting home more?
A: I think that you have to look at the whole picture. Quarterbacks get rid of the ball against us faster than most teams they play. Like I said before, we face more max protection than anybody else in the league. It's fact through PFF (Pro Football Focus). So, I think if you just limit it to just pass rush and sacking the quarterback, you're not looking at it the right way that I believe anyway. It might be the right way you believe, and that's fine.
We're really excited about who we have, the additions we made, and it's still in process, what Joe and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) have done with the roster. We're still building on that.
Q: Why do you think that is, that you've faced the most max protection and that's the way teams approach you?
A: Because we know how to hit the quarterback. They know it. It's not like I'm being boastful either, they just know that we know how to defeat protections. If you ask any offensive coach in the league, they'll tell you that.
Q: If I could clarify what I was asking, you have speed in the backend. Having guys that can keep up with the coverage, playing man, does that help the pass rush, even if it's just getting the quartereback off the mark?
A: Sure, it does. Yeah, it does. With the additions we have to the D-line and with (linebacker) Bobby (Okereke), inside linebacker. That's all going to help. Now let's just keep everybody healthy, and let's keep going.
Q: What are you most excited about with Bobby? Just being able to use him and kind of what you see in him?
A: Which Bobby?
Q: Bobby Okereke.
A: Okay. You knew how to say his last name; I like it.
It's fun to watch him play because of his size, his strength, but most of all, he's a good guy. He's a really intelligent kid that knows football, and it's not hard to talk football with him. So, all those things have been great, and we've just got to get ready to take the next step. Which for me is vacation.
Q: When you look at Banks, the possibility is high that he'll be your outside corner starter Week 1. How aware are you of the hiccups? I know (Jets cornerback) Sauce Gardner lit it up last year, but that's fairly unusual for a corner as a rookie to come in and do that. What are you expecting from Banks in terms of measuring it all, the expectations versus the reality of how that usually goes?
A: The expectation is that he plays football. Like I said, I brought up the Ted Lasso quote, that's the way he is. He's a smart kid that is grounded and he doesn't make it bigger than what it is. I'm sure that they're going to catch an eight-yard out on him and everybody's going to be up in arms, but that happens to every corner. We'll be okay. I think the expectation is to go in there and play and play well.
Q: You had an interview in the offseason. Can you talk about that? You've done that experience before. What was the reaction of the guys here who want the best for you, but selfishly probably wanted you back?
A: Like I said before, it was a great process to go through. I think anytime you have a chance to talk to a different organization, and especially the owners, it's eye opening, and you can learn things from it. How they see the game, where they see their organization going, so that part was really fulfilling for me. But I've also said that this isn't a steppingstone job here. This is a destination. And I believe that, or I wouldn't say it. That's one thing that (Colts owner) Jim Irsay and I have in common. I'm as authentic as there is, and he made that comment. He said, 'I just love your honesty.' Really, he's the same way. It was a fascinating conversation that we had.
I just love the fans here. I love this organization, the Mara and Tisch family, Dabs, Joe, the leadership of it and the culture that we're building, and we're continuing to build during these OTAs.
Q: Did any player say anything that struck you?
A: They were all happy, I hope. Maybe some of the guys that aren't here… But they were happy that we're going to keep things the same way, and I am, too. It's fun to build something from the ground up and see it all the way through, and that's what we have the opportunity to do.
Q: You've obviously had a great career that's still ongoing. You want to be a head coach eventually, and are you at peace if it doesn't happen?
A: I don't have a problem sleeping every night. I'm at peace. It sounds a little dramatic, being at peace, but I'm excited to be the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants and the day that I'm not is the day that they say, 'Hey, you hear Wink retired?' Every day I get up, I can't wait to get to the building to be around these guys. It's always better when the players are here because we find too much stuff to do when the players aren't here.
Q: As the season was going on last year, obviously all the questions about the run defense, you wanting different personnel, we asked you a lot about the snaps for (defensive lineman) Dex(ter Lawrence II) and everything else. Going into the offseason, obviously a concerted effort has been made to bring in guys up front, you mentioned Bobby, to improve that area. As a coach, when you see those bodies out here – I know last week was the first time they were out here together – what's running through your mind?
A: Starting with Mr. (president John) Mara at the owners meeting, he said we need to get better in the run game. But I think when you look at the season overall, take a deep breath and look at it, our main focus going into it with our roster and the players that we had was we were going to attack this season. I said there's two things I want to be sure: that we're great in the red zone and we're great on third down. I thought that we did that and accomplished that goal. The other things will continue as we keep building through the program, and I think that we're definitely headed in the right direction with that.
Q: You had (safety) Xavier (McKinney) wear the green dot last year.
A: Here we go. The green dot question.
Q: What's the calculus there? Why have you not determined he's definitely going to do it again?
A: I don't think that decision's been made. Think about before we had the headsets. We signaled in. There's a guy that looks at the signal and then he tells the rest of defense what it is, whoever that might be. And that's basically what the green dot is. So, we have five different guys wearing green dots and we're seeing how the communication's going. We've had great communication. X (safety Xavier McKinney) still has a green dot. Bobby has a green dot with that first group that's out there. We'll just see how that goes during training camp and everything else.
All they really are—I know a lot of people look at the green dot as the leader of the defense, am I right when I say that? I don't want to put words in your mouth. It's who communicates the best, who's going to be out there all the time. This is my take on it, and we go from there.
Q: Can you talk about the outside linebackers. Last year, they had some injury issues. (Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) missed time, (linebacker) Elerson Smith missed time. Did you learn enough about them? You really didn't make any changes in the personnel there. What do you like about them and what growth have you seen?
A: I'm really happy with that room, and where they're going led by (linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux). We got Haddy (linebacker Jihad Ward) back, which I was happy about, and I told the whole defense wherever I'm at, Haddy will have a job. If he's done playing, he can hang out with me as a coach.
But I really like that room. I like its personality. (Outside linebackers coach) Drew Wilkins does a great job with them. They're leaders in their own right. I just think that if you've seen Zeez (linebacker Azeez Ojulari) and are around him all the time you can see that he's, the best way I could describe it, a lot more sturdy this year. We'll see how that translates because it's a crazy league. We'll see how that translates.
Q: When you look at the inside linebacker spot next to Bobby, do you think (linebacker Darrian) Beavers could be a starter there?
A: Yeah, possibly. We'll see. It's all a competition right now with he and J.D. (linebacker Jarrad Davis), and I'll tell you, (linebacker) Micah (McFadden) has really improved.
Q: What do the additions on the defensive line in free agency mean for your pass rush?
A: I think with the size of them, and you've seen them, they'll be able to collapse. Everybody thinks, when they think pass rush, the tackle guys, the inside guys. They think of (former NFL defensive tackle) Warren Sapp and (Rams defensive tackle) Aaron Donald. God touched those guys twice. These guys have just been touched once. So, just as long as they can collapse the pocket, just like Dex did last year, and get the quarterback off the spot, you'll see a lot of good things happen. I think we've got the size and the ability to do that.