Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
August 23, 2023
Really pleased with the effort we played with against Carolina. It was fun seeing the first group out there playing together. Not complete yet, but still it was exciting to get those guys on the field and to actually play in a game, which was fun to watch. With that, I’ll open it up for questions.
Q. Seems like (safety) Jason (Pinnock), I know he’s banged up right now, really seized that job next to (safety) Xavier (McKinney). What did you see from him this summer to have that confidence in him?
A: I think that nothing has been set in stone yet, but it’s obviously looking that way. I think that what he did last year and what he’s done to get in shape and get his body right and another year in the system so he’s playing even faster, more reacting instead of thinking now. I think he’s got a bright future.
Q. We saw (defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams) go off a few days ago in practice. What did you see from him that day?
A: I think that all of them, they are practicing trying to get ready for the season to start. He’s been doing that throughout camp and he’s really improved on a lot of techniques and fundamentals in his game and has taken it personal to even in, what is it, year nine now, to get even better than what he has been in the past and I think you see that in his play.
Q. I think you hear sometimes a lot of people suggest that your blitz schemes kind of, for lack of a better term, limit your edge rushers. A lot of teams have edge rushers, they just send them every time whereas you kind of maybe ask more of them. What do you think of that idea that your edge rushers might rush a little less than traditional edge rushers?
A: Well, I think there is different philosophies defensively. I think there is the coordinators that just like to rush four and play coverage. We like to put pressure on the quarterback in different ways because like I have said many times, pressure breaks pipes. It’s one of those things where I say it’s a positionless defense, so I just don’t limit them and put them in a box of just an edge rusher. It’s what they do best, how can we get a free runner to the quarterback and what it takes is 11 selfless guys out there and that’s what you are seeing with us, with our guys. They are selfless players. They care about each other more than they care about themselves. Just because someone has four sacks going into Week Six, it does not mean he’s having a bad year because you got to think not only the passing plays and sacks, what are they doing the other 500 plays or 400 plays, whatever the number is at, at that time. They do all the little things that make the good things happen.
Q. Are you settled on the communication part of things now, defensively?
A: I mean, we’ve had a bunch of different guys doing it. I think it will still be one of those decisions that we will wait until probably the week of Dallas but we are going in the direction that I like.
Q. What did you think of (inside linebacker) Bobby (Okereke) on Friday night?
A: I thought he played really well. Yeah, I thought he played really well. It was fun to watch.
Q. In a preseason setting like this, like in this third game coming up, you know I don’t know who is going to play, maybe a lot of guys won’t play, but do you see any sense in not doing what you do just because it’s a preseason game? I mean you want to get the most out of these guys, so if you want to pressure, say well I am going to pressure anyway because that’s what we do, there is no sense in practicing something else?
A: No, I think you just go to play the game with who you have in there. I don’t know who we are playing yet either, so don’t feel like you are all alone on that. That’s going to be between Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) and (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Joe (Schoen), but I think that you call the game to win each game you have. That’s what we will do, with who’s in there, what I think they can execute. You know they are going against a titan of quarterbacks (Jets QB Aaron Rodgers). It’s going to be a great experience for some of these younger guys because he’ll evaluate your team for you as well with the way he plays quarterback.
Q. Since the roster hasn’t been finalized, how much of your defense have you implemented?
A: Oh, we got the whole defense in, yeah. Yeah, it’s already in. You are not seeing it all, but we got all the defense in.
Q. (Cornerback Deon)Te (Banks) and (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III) have had a lot of success so far, nobody wants to see them fail, but cornerbacks always get beaten on occasion. Are you curious to see how they handle some failure?
A: I think they have failed some in practice and I loved how they responded to that. You don’t go into it looking that way, but I think that’s one of the things that I told you before that I loved about Tre. He’s got a short memory. And Te is just one of those guys that wants to keep getting better every day, they both are and it’s fun to watch.
Q. What do you like best about this defense?
A: I like the players, the people. You know what I mean? The players themselves. It’s, like I said, I know you hear the word selfless, but it truly is a selfless group who cares about our success and that is cool in today’s day and age of the NFL. Like you got (cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson), who is helping those young corners out. I mean, he’s a stud and he wants them to be great and I just love the people here. I think that’s what Joe and Dabs and even the prior regime, there is some good people in this building that want to do right for the Giants and do right for our defense and do right for our team most importantly.
Q. Does the fact that (Jets quarterback Aaron) Rodgers is playing give you a special opportunity to prepare these guys to face the best of the best?
A: Yeah, I get excited every time I am going against him because he is a titan of the league, he is one of the titans of the league and we all know that, you see the energy he brought to the city. I really do like him, I want to him have a bunch of success except when we are playing against each other and he knows that and hopefully he feels the same way. I just think that he’s one of the best and it’s always, as players and coaches, just like you saw in London, it’s fun playing that chess match with him. There is so many little things that you have got to cover when you are going against him. I know if I was a rookie, I would be jacked, you know like the two corners, to go against Aaron Rodgers because it’s one of the best of the best.
Q. So if you like him, then you are not going to blitz him?
A: We’ll see.
Q. With (inside linebacker Bobby) Okereke, nothing against the guys you had last year but you had young guys or a guy that came off the street at some point, to have a guy, he’s a proven player in this league, he’s had success. How big of an upgrade is that or how much better can this defense be knowing you have that lynchpin kind of in the middle of your defense?
A: I’ve always said this, philosophically, if you have a fast mike, then you have a fast defense and he’s a really fast mike. A lot of his success will depend on how we play up front and we have seen improvement there as well. I know you guys haven’t seen Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñes-Roches) and (defensive lineman) A’Shawn (Robinson) play in a game yet, but we’ve seen them in practice. We are starting to get (defensive lineman) D.J. (Davidson) back now, he’s been practicing. I like what I see from him and, of course, (defensive tackle) Jordon Riley, everybody has been talking about.
Q. Are you hoping to get A’Shawn and Nacho in this weekend?
A: I always hope, but who knows. Like I said, that’s Joe and Dabs there.
Q. Were you surprised with Riley? How much of a surprise has he been to you?
A: I don’t think it’s a surprise at all. I think that when you draft a guy you expect him to play the way that you saw on tape and then you see in the future of what you can do to help develop him that can make him even better and I think that’s what you are seeing right now, but he still needs a lot of snaps and still needs to grow. I think he’s in the perfect spot for it right now with where he is at with the veterans he has in that room and with Dre (defensive line coach Andre Patterson) and B-Cox (assistant defensive line coach Bryan Cox).
Q. Is he further along than you thought he might be?
A: I haven’t sat and thought about it, but probably.