Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Alright, what has it been (since we last talked)? Two weeks? Alright, Arizona, the second half, really excited with the way we closed that game out. I thought we played with passion and energy that we needed to play and that was a lot fun winning that game. We weren't really pleased with the first half of it, but the second half we were.
The San Francisco game, I thought that these guys played as hard as I have seen them play since I've been here, with the effort that they had. It was a great challenge for us. We had a bunch of guys out there playing their tail off all the way until the end.
Don't like where we are at, as far as 1-2. We got to start faster as a defense, but I like where we are going. I told the defense today, one of the things about having a guy that's had experience, we still control the narrative. I can remember, for an example, and there is many more than this, but for example in '19 when we were in Baltimore. We just lost to Cleveland, we were 2-2 and the world was coming to an end. I don't think we had to build an arc like we do now out there, but we went off and ran 14 straight games off. Not saying that's going to happen, but I'm just saying that to the players of, you control the narrative, we control the narrative of our careers, of life and everything else, individually. I've gone down this with you guys before, but we are going to be ready to go Monday night and we've got another tough challenge with the Seahawks. Their offense is playing really well and scoring a lot of points, but when it comes time to kickoff, we are going to show up. I love the fact that our fans are so passionate, it gives us an advantage at home and that's going to help us.
With that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q: I understand edge is a much more complicated job than pass rusher, but is there any argument to be made for as good as he is at setting the edge and dropping in coverage that you should increase (outside linebacker) Kayvon's (Thibodeaux) pass rushing snaps and just turn him loose on the quarterback?
A: He gets turned loose as many times as we need to turn him loose. I think that if you just want to rush four and play coverage the entire game and have me come up here and say this guy didn't play well, this guy didn't play well, that's not me. We are a defense that keeps offenses guessing. They won't admit it to you before you play the game, but when you see them at the combine and everything else, I'm talking about offensive coordinators, we know how to attack protections and we are going to it the best way we can do it to affect the quarterback. That involves Kayvon, but it involves him sometimes dropping, sometimes rushing. There's guys that have more sacks than Kayvon right now and their team's record is worse than ours. It's three games. What's the old country saying? Don't throw out the baby with the water, or whatever it is. But, I think we are going to be just fine with Kayvon, alright?
Q: Is it a concern that you haven't forced any turnovers yet?
A: Of course, it is, it's a concern. You always want to get the ball turned over. You know, in different types of situations in the game, but if I keep saying, hey let's rip the ball off of them, then all the sudden they start slipping through some tackles, you know what I mean? I think that turnovers, interceptions, fumble recoveries, I think they come in bunches. And how they come in bunches is getting back to what I said before, on how you affect the quarterback and how you go tackle the running back with pursuit and all 11 guys there. I think they'll come.
Q: Sacks the same way too?
A: Sacks the same way, of course. It's complementary football.
Q: Have you noticed any frustration from your guys because the numbers haven't maybe been there already?
A: If there is frustration, they haven't said it to me. I mean there is frustration when we are not playing well. You know what I mean? When there is lapses and plays and things like that, but there's been no frustration about 'I'm not doing this', 'I'm not doing that', you know, 'I need to do this.' I mean everybody wants to play well, but I think that's the only frustration there.
Q: Circling back on Kayvon real quick, on the amount of times you guys have rushed him in this pass rush, how would you describe his production, are you looking for more there, are you pleased with it?
A: Always. Always. And he would be the first one to tell you that. And just finishing at the quarterback, using his hands better. I think that each week, each day, he and (outside linebackers coach) Drew (Wilkins) work on that. We'll do some different things that's going to help him, but there is three other guys rushing the quarterback when you go to a four-man rush as well and I think that helps that individual that's rushing the quarterback on how they do their job as well because he could beat a tackle and there is a big space where the quarterback could step up. Whose fault is that? Well, they are going to say, 'well Kayvon ran past the quarterback, why didn't he retrace?' You know there is all kinds of different things that go into it, but to me there is no panic. Is there concern? No. I just think he's a good football player and it's going to work out. You know, I really do.
Q: (Inside linebacker) Bobby (Okereke) had mentioned that you guys did a tackling circuit drill yesterday. What did you see from them in that and why did you decide to bring it back?
A: Well, I think that whenever you have a game, I think Dallas we missed four tackles. That's what I was really pleased with when we came out of that first game, is usually the first game is when you miss the most and San Francisco was our worst tackling game that we've had, and we made it a focal point yesterday. It was different types of tackles. Breaking the stiff arm down, running him out of bounds, wrapping him up, running through a ball carrier and even to the point where you are hitting quarterbacks, gator rolling when you hit them, so you don't land with your body weight on the quarterback because we do have to do a better job of getting off the field on third down. No matter what game it is. That's always been a strength of ours and right now, penalties is one of the biggest reasons why we are not getting off the field on third down. That was the three main (points of) emphasis in the tackling drill that we did.
Q: How do you do that during the season? Is it more drills, more physical drills, what can you do during the season to fix that?
A: I think it's a mindset. We all know the rules and how the rules have changed and everything else. Like what I'm saying, tackling, wrapping up. You know we used to, back in the day, take them down to the ground and you would do something like that, where today now I have the running back have a shield so they can get the thump, where they are wrapping and running their feet while they have the shield, with the guardian helmets on and all that. It's different. Okay and what it comes down to is they are professional athletes and they've got to have that mindset of taking the right angle, stepping toes on toes, and making tackles. Which they have and they are going to do it again. Like I said, the San Francisco game was the biggest game where that came out and then all of the sudden there is a wildfire that we can't tackle. Come out Monday night, chart them.
Q: With (safety/inside linebacker Isaiah) Simmons and (outside linebacker Boogie) Basham, who came in late, is there a bigger role for either of them?
A: I think it's a growing role, it's probably a BS answer I gave you, but it is. It's just a growing role, the more that they feel comfortable in the system.
Q: And the more they show you?
A: Yeah, the more I feel comfortable with them and what they can handle, the more plays they'll get.
Q: Who do you view as the leaders of the defense?
A: I think (defensive lineman) Dex(ter Lawrence II), really Dex and (defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams). Leo has come out, he's come out with a sense of urgency in these first three games. I know he got banged up in San Francisco, but I think those two are. I think Bobby is becoming a leader. You know, it's like I said, when you have new guys, you are gelling as a defense. The same thing like I told them going back in 2019, it all depends who you have and how long it takes to gel and obviously we are not there yet, but we are on our way. I guess, the biggest thing for me is I love a challenge. I don't think you should be in this profession if you don't, so we run to challenges and we've got a challenge. You know, you couldn't stay in this business for as long as we have if you don't like challenges. I know what the challenges is, I've been here before, and we'll go attack it.
Q: You've said all along that you like to keep your personality even keeled with the players. Is there a time, or has there been a time that you would see that it's time to light it up a little bit to get your guys going or is that artificial in your eyes?
A: No, I mean I don't think any human reaction you have is artificial, I think it's real. I think at times when you see, staying even keel, you are having a walk through and someone is not paying attention, the time that we put in it and I say we, the players and the coaches, that we put in this, and someone is not paying attention, you'll hear me, you know? I'm just not one of those guys that continually screams on game day or during practice because I think you can go up and just tell somebody, sometimes that hurts more. When you are calm and you tell somebody what they need to do, you know? You are not going to see me explode on the sidelines, hope not. If it is, there is something really wrong.