Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
September 14, 2023
We looked at the tape and have been working on things we need to fix. We're looking forward to this challenge here going out to Arizona.
With that, I’ll open it up for questions.
Q: What is it that you looked at and you said, ‘These are the areas it’s time to focus on?’
A: Actually, just little things. You know what I mean? Just little things. I think we could have helped ourselves by alignment on the pick play, the big play that (Cowboys wide receiver) CeeDee (Lamb) caught, but just little things like that. I thought that for the most part of the game, we played well against the run. There’s one that got away from us we’d like to have back. That’s another one of the little things that you point out, and you need to fix it. It’s an ongoing process. We’re coming together. I told you last week, I think it's going to take a little bit for that first group to gel, and I really like that we had a really good practice yesterday. I'm looking forward to having another one today.
Q: What do you see from their quarterback (Joshua Dobbs)? He’s only been there for a month-ish.
A: I've gone against him in the AFC a lot. I think he's a very smart quarterback that knows where he wants to go with the football. He’s mobile enough too to still hurt you if you're taking his reads away from him. So, I think there’s a reason why he's been on so many different teams is because everybody sees the same thing in him about how he can, I don't want to say he's a game manager because I think some quarterbacks look at that as a dig. He really does know how to take care of the football and try to keep the sticks moving.
Q: I think he had three fumbles last week. Were there common denominators there to those?
A: I think that sometimes they get rolling with those. If you look back at our Detroit game, all the sudden we started getting some interceptions, and they came in bunches there, that type of thing. So, I think that the biggest jump that teams make, including ourselves, is from Week 1 to Week 2. Like I said, it's going to be a great challenge. I think (Cardinals Head Coach) Jonathan (Gannon) has done a great job of bringing that team together, and their offense is playing to their defensive strengths as well.
Q: Were you satisfied with the amount of pressure you had and was some of that because the score dictates what they're doing?
A: Yeah, I think it's the pace of the game as far as the pressure. Because we saw during the game when, early in the second quarter, they weren't going to let (Cowboys quarterback) Dak (Prescott) get hit. They were getting rid of the ball fast. I don't know the exact number on the opportunities of just straight drop-back passes. There’s a lot of play action, a lot of boots, and he got rid of the ball quick. So, you have to adjust your game plan as well. I think that's the fewest amount of times we've blitzed them since through the third game that we’ve played them, because I saw that they were getting rid of the ball so quick, that they weren’t going to let him get hit.
So, then you’ve got to try to take away their number one threat, which is CeeDee. I think, besides the one play where we got picked, and like I said, that was more our fault than anything else, you take that play out and he had what, four receptions? So, we did that, and I think Dak’s completion percentage was 52 percent. So, there's a lot of things, a lot of positives that we can build on. That’s what I told the defense.
Q: How would you assess the way (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III) played in his first game?
A: I thought he played well. I think that the first time you're out there, underneath the lights on Sunday Night Football, I thought he played well. The thing I liked about both the rookie corners is how aggressive they are. They like to tackle, and they like to play physical. So, I like where we're headed with that group.
Q: A couple of guys in the locker room yesterday were talking about that they felt a little bit of an edge to practice, obviously, to try to put Sunday behind them. Did you sense that at all, A, and B, defensively, is that often a spot where you can really set a tone in a game particularly when you need to set a tone?
A: Okay, you asked me two different questions there. Was there an edge?
Q: I was just curious if you sensed it.
A: I think we practiced well before we played Dallas and I think it was the same type of practice that we had Wednesday. We've been practicing well. It’s like one of those things that, I've told the defense before, Lou Holtz, I worked for him at Notre Dame. Everybody's got problems. Ninety percent of the people in this room don't care about your problems and the other 10 percent are glad you have them. So, what are you going to do to go fix it?
Q: When you’re trying to come off a loss like that, can a defense really set a tone?
A: I think a whole team. I don't think you make it offense, defense or special teams; I think a whole team can. The biggest thing is, and Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) hit on this right after the game, you can never let one game beat you twice. So, you’ve got a choice in life. Stand up, dust yourself off and go play. That’s what our guys are going to do. I know how they are, and I know how they’ll react to it.
Q: Do you have any issue with how your defense finished the game in the second half?
A: I just think it was one of those things, you just keep hammering the rock, hammering the rock. I didn't think that anybody gave up if that’s where you’re going. I don’t think that at all. I do think that it was their first time, like I said, all of them together and playing for that long of a period of time. I just think that we've got to get better on doing a lot of little things. I wasn't happy with the first series coming out of the half. I was not happy with that. I told them that. But I think, like everything else, it’s just, like I said, little things that we need to fix. And I think we will.
Q: What about that first series didn’t you like?
A: That we let them go down the field. A lot of things happened, but we just need to get a stop there in that situation. Because at the end of the half, we got a two-minute stop, three-and-out on a two-minute stop, and I thought the momentum of that going into the start of the second half… But like I said, keep your composure. That's what I told them. I don’t lose my composure. I'm going to be the same. I’m going to be the same up here as I am anywhere else. We’ve just got to move on. I still think we're a good defense.
Q: Isaiah Simmons didn’t have a lot of numbers, like solo tackles or assists, but it looked like he was flying around. Do you think he was fitting in?
A: Yeah, he's fitting in. He's fitting in. He's just going to keep getting better and better.
Q: Do you keep giving him more, too?
A: Of course. Yeah.
Q: With (cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson), he obviously plays in the slot a lot when you’re in the sub-packages. Is that something that could change week-to-week, or those are just your best three, or if the best receivers are on the outside, do you adjust?
A: I think it's something that could change from week-to-week, game-to-game, series-to-series because we can match. That’s the beauty of this system, we can do a lot of different things with it.
Q: When you were asked about Simmons, you said of course. Why?
A: I think his role is going to expand, because he's that good of a player and he's just learning the package. What is this, the third week he's been here? It’s just going to keep expanding. Like I said, he's a positionless player, which is a compliment to him. We can move him around and play him in different spots. Through attrition, there's going to be different spots that are open and each week, you put him in the best spot that you need him in to help us in.
Q: Can he help you Arizona-wise at all, or is that overrated?
A: I think that’s all overrated. I really do. I know that his competitive juices will be flowing a little bit hotter than normal, because that's just the human nature of the sport, too. It's just like us with Baltimore last year, or Dabs when he goes to Buffalo. I mean, it's just one of those things.