Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Well, not a whole lot to catch you all up on. We've been preparing for the last two weeks for this game and this season. I like where we are at defensively and I am excited where we are going and with that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q. As a defensive coordinator when you go and look across the side and you look at (Cowboys quarterback) Dak (Prescott) and the Cowboys, what do you make of the fact that he doesn't have a history of throwing interceptions but last year he threw a lot of interceptions?
A: I think that when you look at the player of the caliber of Dak, he's been a Pro Bowler, he's Walter Payton Man of the Year, he's one of best competitors at the quarterback position I think, and leaders. He's mastered this offense. I know that Shotty (Cowboys offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) and (Cowboys head coach) Mike (McCarthy), Mike's going to be calling the plays now, but it's a similar offense that he's been running, and I think that it's going to be a tough challenge just like it is every time you play him. I don't think you put any stock into last year just because it's this year. Everything is about this year now.
Q. How would you characterize the way (cornerback) Deonte (Banks) has come in, picked stuff up, handled himself? He seems to have a quiet confidence about him. What would your assessment be?
A: I think he has been and reacted in different situations just like we thought he would. I think that he is a very competitive person. I like his attitude. I've used the Ted Lasso quote to nauseam now, but that's just who he is. He loves to compete, he loves this defense, he loves the system, and you can tell the way his teammates have grown close to him already that he's an all-around good guy that's going to have a lot of success in this league.
Q. Is there a level of NFL ready that rookies come in with and is he maybe a little bit higher that way than some? Obviously he was a high draft pick.
A: Yeah, I think we have talked about that too before here in this setting. I think that each player is different and he's ahead of schedule as far as that, you know, being ready to go and being excited about going. You know there is going to be hiccups, we all know. That's being a rookie. That's both for he and (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III). They are just two strong-willed individuals that I think they are going to be just fine.
Q. How does Isaiah Simmons fit into your defense and what has the crash course been like for him since he got here?
A: It's been great, it's been great. I think he fits perfectly. It's going to take a while for all of us to gel, not just Isaiah, but all of us to gel together because we just haven't had that many reps together yet, besides practice, but I am saying just seasonal, game reps, it'll take a little to bit to gel, which every team is going to go through that. I think he's perfect for this defense. When (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Joe (Schoen) told me to initially look at him, I loved him coming out of the draft and I spoke to (Clemson head coach) Dabo (Swinney) back then, but then I went to see, a lot of people just go back and look at game tapes and make their judgements. I went back the last three years and looked at his productivity and looked at things he did do really well, and I think it fits our system great. It's not what position are you going to play him at, we are going to play him wherever you need him because he can do so many different things. I've talked before about a positionless defense, he fits perfect to that.
Q. You said Tae (cornerback Deonte Banks) is ahead of schedule, what makes him ahead of schedule?
A: I just think his maturity and his confidence, is probably what makes him (ahead of schedule), and his skillset obviously. I think those three things.
Q. Because of the way you coach players and have over the years, do you particularly like your chances to get the most of guys like Simmons who clearly was seeking a fresh start and got one with you and the Giants?
A: We've had success with really good football players, and I think he's a really good football player. I just believe in him, and I believe in all the guys that are playing and I think he's going to be fun to watch.
Q. In the past, you've compared guys to certain guys in the past and things like that. Is it fair or unfair to compare (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) and (Cowboys linebacker) Micah Parsons?
A: I guess unfair. I mean I think they both have a lot of things they do really well. Some different things that some do better than others and vice versa, but I like Kayvon. Just who he is and what he does for this defense. He brings so much flexibility to the defense that people don't really understand that he does everything. It's like we have talked about before, say there is 700 plays, you are going to like 650 of them and not talk about the 10 sacks or eight sacks or nine and a half sacks, whatever number gets placed on him because that's just a blip on the radar screen for everything else that he does.
Q. He (outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux) said when he looked back at his first year, he was very disgusted or whatever word he used about a lot of chances that he did not cash in on. To reach the next level, you mentioned all the things he does, but does cashing in on those …
A: Sure, I think any player that's judged with the microscope that he is and when they have success and when they really take that next step is when they become finishers at the quarterback and finishers when they get their hands on the football and things of that nature, but you know when everybody talks about sacks and everything else, they forget about him sprinting 40 yards down the field and tackling a tailback that's running. Guys don't usually make those plays; he makes those plays, so it's going to be enjoyable to watch.
Q. You obviously don't feel sacks are everything, but a year ago they had eight sacks, you guys had none in two games. Does that number bother you; can it not be zero again this week?
A: I think that we played well, just couldn't finish them and this is a new year. I don't sit back there and say they had eight and we had zero and look at that as a failure, no. I just know we got to fix some things and we've worked on that, and we will see where we are at come Sunday night.
Q. When you look at the roster, you added (inside linebacker) Bobby (Okereke) and Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) and (defensive lineman) A'Shawn (Robinson) and Simmons and (outside linebacker Boogie) Basham, do you sit there and say, 'I've got a lot of tools, this could be a fun year for me'?
A: Sure. I mean, I do. Yeah.
Q. Can you do a hell of a lot more?
A: I think that we can be excited about it and like I said, it's going to be fun to watch. I know one thing, the fans are excited about it because I've had more people come up this year than ever last year, plus it's my second year in the city and over here in Jersey and I know a lot more people, but fans don't realize the importance they have at home games anymore because of fantasy football and I know cell phones and everything else, but when you have a home field advantage like we do, it is big time for us. Especially defensively. When that stadium gets rocking, it gets everybody's juices flowing on defense and it's fun to watch.
Q. What is it about this group that makes you think it could be a top defense? Now that you've had the summer to see it on the field and kind of envision what it's going to be like?
A: I appreciate you saying top defense, I don't think I said that.
Q. You don't go into the season thinking that?
A: I think that every year. I do think that, but I think that the biggest thing you will see is the difference in our speed and as soon as we can catch the execution up with the speed, like I said, it's going to be fun for you guys to watch and for our city to watch and our fans to watch. Like I said, there is going to be some tough challenges and Sunday night is our first challenge. One of 17.
Q. You've coached great players before. When (defensive lineman) Dex(ter) (Lawrence II) has the kind of year that he had last year, how do you continue to get the most out of a player who was really as dominant as he was last year in this system?
A: I think that the great players, they get it from themselves. It comes from here (points to heart) and I think that's the same thing that Dex did last year. Dex decided he was going to be a dominant player in this league and then once you have that success, you want more of it and I think it's more player based than it is coaching based, I really do, because I think that he played really well obviously last year, everybody talks about it and I think he's going to play really well this year.