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Transcript: Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale

Eric from BBI : Admin : 8/3/2023 1:32 pm
Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale

August 3, 2023

Opening Statement: Welcome back. It’s my first time seeing everybody since we started back up. I hope everybody had a good time – a good break. I know myself, I had a great time with the family and played a lot of golf. My wife was trying to teach me how to play pickleball. That’s a new, exciting sport. I found out that I don’t have breaks anymore. If you want to go run for a ball, watch out if you’re standing in the way but it was a really enjoyable time. I’m really looking forward to – It’s always great when the players come back, and I think that the culture that (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs is continuing to build and the things that we did defensively during the OTAs and minicamp, we went to the Comedy Cellar and everybody was together and we picked up right where we left off. That’s also exciting to see. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.

Q: What is it about this group that gives you optimism that they can be better than last year?

A: I just think it’s a lot of different things. It’s the second year in the system, you know the players that are coming back. You know them better than you did at this time last year. Guys themselves are just working really hard and trying to improve every day. Rather that’s (DT Dexter Lawrence) Dex or the last guy that we just brought in, whoever that is. I just think that the organizational alignment that we have with (Senior Vice President and General Manger) Joe (Schoen) and Dabs and the whole staff, the that you’re looking for the traits, the characteristics and all that. We’re all in align and it’s an exciting time right now like it is for the 31 other teams, I’m sure.

Q: What did you miss without a healthy Azeez Ojulari last season? What has he given you so far in camp?

A: He really truly played in five or six games? I don’t really remember the exact number because last year is last year. I think he averaged a sack a game so that’s the layup. Thanks, I appreciate it (laughs). He’s a pure pash rusher. He’s fun to watch.

Q: When does the light come on for rookies? Does it differ by position?

A: No, I think it’s various times that the light comes on. You can pick out whatever play you want to pick out. Like in Baltimore, we had (Ravens LB) Tyus Bowser. It was really the third year that he stepped up. You really said “okay, that’s who we drafted.” I’m just using that as an example, that’s the first one that comes to my mind. It’s per individual, per player. It’s not by position.

Q: You just mentioned that the second year in the system should be better. What exactly does that mean? Do you know them better or do they know you better?

A: I think it’s what you said initially. We know them better and they know us better and it’s a 50/50 thing. You can visualize what guys can do. We did that last year and it was fine, it worked out well for us but we also know there’s a lot of improving that we need to do because if you’re not changing in this league, you won’t be in this league very long. You’ll like irrelevancy even less. Thank you, I learned that word this summer.

Q: Can you talk about the young inside linebackers? Both Darrian Beavers and Micah McFadden had some adversity last year. What have you seen from those two?

A: I think that they’re both improving every day and they’re working hard. It’s great competition in that room. Obviously, with the addition of (LB Bobby Okereke) Bobby O, it’s really helped that room. Dyontae Johnson, (the) undrafted free agent that we have out of Toledo. You know, we’ve only had one day in pad when you’re talking about evaluating players and everything else, so it’s going to be a process and I’ll be able to answer those questions better after we get some preseason games and do things like that, but we’re excited.

Q: Do you think your run defense will be better?

A: I think that it will, and I think it will because of the additions that we’ve made. Whether it be (Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) Nacho or A’Shawn (Robinson) or the seventh-round pick, Jordon Riley. I don’t know if you’ve seen or stood next to him yet. It’s like going to California and standing next to a redwood (tree). I mean, he’s a big man and he’s got to learn how to play at this level and be consistent with it, but I’m excited about that.

Q: How impressed are you with Tre Hawkins III camp so far?

A: Oh, he’s had a great camp. He’s had a great camp. It’s amazing to me as you go back and you think about the different guys and where they come from. It doesn’t matter where you come from once you get here because the resources and people that they have to work with at this level and the guys that are productive, you can see the confidence just build in them. I really think he’s done a nice job but he’s got a lot of things to work on, just like we all do.

Q: How do you think Deonte Banks has been so far in camp?

A: I think he’s been great. It’s one of those things – corners are on the island. You know what I mean? When you see, he’s on the island and this is the NFL. It’s 50/50 on the edge. He still has that mentality that if he gets knocked down nine times, he gets up 10 and doesn’t flinch. (He) listens, learns (and) Rome’s doing a great job with him, (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome Henderson and I think both of those young corners have come in here and competed and they’re exciting to watch.

Q: Adoree’ Jackson has played some snaps in the slot. Is that something you would actually consider?

A: We’re doing all kinds of different combinations and a lot of it is, like you just said, we wanted to get Tre with the one’s to see how he handled that, and he’s handled that well. There’s a lot of competition out there, at all the spots.

Q: Do you have a preference of which linebacker spot Bobby Okereke plays?

A: I think that’s what’s great about Bobby, he can play either and we’ll just take the best player available (at the other spot). We talk about competition – I told the whole defense the other day, ‘don’t limit it to think that it’s just competition that’s in that room. It’s competition that’s in that room plus 31 other teams.’ Because look at what we did with the roster after training camp last year. There were a lot of changes being made all the time. I can’t say enough about Joe and his group and Dabs of what they continue to do with the roster week by week to be competitive. That’s a hard thing to do in this league.

Q: Is your roster deeper this year?

A: I hope so. We’re going to find out. Like I said, it’s just our first day in pads so I’ll be able to answer that question for you as we go. Just by the eye test, we’re deeper upfront with the (defensive) tackle position.

Q: How much does it help your defense that the offense brought in skill players that will challenge any defense that you play this year?

A: I think competition just breeds success. We couldn’t cover (Darren) Waller when he was an undrafted free agent in Baltimore. Those kind of things – it’s fun to see. And just like (Jason Pinnock) JP made the great pick the other day. That builds confidence in a team and it’s exciting to see.

Q: Do you have any memories of a young Darren Waller going against your defense in practice?

A: Yeah, it came back the other day in practice (laughs). It’s like he’s eating peanuts off the top of people’s heads picking those balls up.

Q: Is Jason Pinnock making a legitimate case to be your Week 1 starter?

A: Yeah, but I still think there’s competition everywhere and we’ll see. I think it’s the same thing that we started off with. It’s the second year. He was one of the examples, now that you said that, he was one of the examples when I told you that I told the defense about competition in this league. Every day you drive in the parking lot, you’re looking to be replaced, that’s coaches and players. And I said “JP, where were you at for training camp last year?” You know, for the (New York) Jets. There you have it. That’s the point I was trying to make and that’s usually for the younger guys, the vets know all that.

Q: What’s tougher to defend from the defensive point of view? Speed or size? And you can’t say both.

A: I can’t say both? You ask me a question and tell me what I can’t say (laughs). There’s always a good place for a little guy and that’s behind the big guys and that’s up front. But I love speed as well – I’m saying both! Don’t tell me I can’t say both (laughs). I’m saying both. It’s tough! It’s tough in this league. It’s fun but
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