Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
I think we're making progress defensively as you saw in the Seattle game. The biggest thing that stood out for us defensively was the improvement on third down, and I like where we're headed. I like that we've stayed positive throughout the tough time we're going through right now and we have a tremendous challenge coming up down there in Miami on Sunday. It's going to be a great a challenge for us. It's going to be exciting. Fun to watch.
Q: I saw (Bills Head Coach) Sean McDermott said something last week, they asked, 'How do you mimic the speed the Dolphins have?' And he said you sign Usain Bolt, basically. How do you guys mimic the speed you have on the practice field? Is there anybody you have that can play those roles?
A: It's tough to do. Even if you think you can mimic it, it's not—that's why they're so successful on their first drives coming out. Guys got to get used to the speed of the game and the speed of those guys. I don't know what the best way to describe it is. It's like, if you were driving on Daytona NASCAR and jump and try to race against a Formula 1 guy. Those guys, they're fast. It's not just (wide receiver) Tyreek (Hill) anymore. (Wide receiver Jaylen) Waddle, I don't know to pronounce his last name, the running back, the rookie running back (De'Von Achane), he runs 4.3 with his pads on. It's going to be a challenge.
Q: Where do you stand on the cornerback situation going into this game?
A: They're all going to be ready to play. They're going to have to be ready to play because, what is it supposed to be, 85 (degrees), which with 100 percent humidity will probably feel like 95, 96? If you watch this offense, you're going to be running, so everybody has got to be ready to go.
Q: Does that mean that we should expect to see (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III) back on the field?
A: I'm not going to talk about who's playing and who's not playing. This is a matchup league. I think, as a coach, when you're looking at an offense, when you're going to match up certain guys with certain guys that somebody matches up better with this guy or that guy. That's where we're at here right now. So, it's not just cookie cutter. It's not just because you have these three guys that they're always going to play. And that's why it's so important and Rome (Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson) does a great job of developing everybody that's on the roster. Guys have good weeks of practice. He coaches every practice, and we coach every practice like it is a game, because we want to make sure everybody knows what they're doing when they get in there, because they're probably going to be in there.
Q: How do you assess your tackling? Obviously, the (Seahawks tight end Noah) Fant play stood out the other night, but would you say there's been some tackling issues?
A: I think that anytime that you go through what we've gone through, there's several things that stand out. But we put an emphasis on tackling the Seattle week, and you're still going to have missed tackles. It's not like people walk out of games that no one missed a tackle. This is pro football. Those guys get paid, too. Would the guys who missed the tackle on that play like to have that play back? Yes.
I'll try to explain it the best way I can point it to you. We need to have fewer guys saying they want one or two plays back. You know what I mean? Because especially when you lose the game, those plays stand out even more. So, there's guys that you could go back and look at the last four games, and like I said, it's one or two plays. But if you have six guys that have one or two plays a game that they want back, that's too many. We're just trying to get better every day. I think we're going down that path. You saw the way we played.
Q: Is that the (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) you want to see on a regular basis? Even the play before he got the sack, I think it was the second play, you saw him running back to make a tackle and really getting out there.
A: I think that Kayvon wants to win, and Kayvon wants to get better every day. Kayvon will get better, he'll continue to get better every day, because that's his personality. I want to see Kayvon every day. He's a good dude. You know what I mean? So, yeah, that's one of the greatest things about coaching. That's why you've been at as long as we have, because you want your guys to have success, so you're excited to see that. I think that he knows what's expected of him. I just told him keep being himself and keep trying to get better. Do everything the best you can do it and as fast as you can do it, and I think that's what you saw against Seattle. I thought he played well.
Q: (Tackle) Evan Neal's comments that came out yesterday drew a lot of attention. Obviously, he's a young guy that was frustrated. When you guys are going through a stretch like this, as a veteran coach, what's your advice on trying to handle that stress and the pressure that comes with the fact—
A: What'd you say? When we're going through what?
A: When you go through the stretch that you're on right now. Obviously, you've got a young guy that kind of lashed out, just showed his frustration.
A: You don't want to see anybody put themself in the position that he did, because it becomes a distraction. Everybody's frustrated right now. As long as you attack every day, it's like I told you guys last week, when you have experience – you said younger guys – you've been in these situations before. What you have to rely on is that you're still coaching in this league. So, be confident in what you do and how you're coaching it. It's the same thing that goes for a player. You can't just snap back, you know what I mean? You've got to think about everything you say, and just have the confidence that you're going to continue to work and get better. That's what I would say to him. I haven't talked to him about it.
Q: With that being said, can it be a benefit to you guys to go on the road for a couple of weeks given the stretch you had at home in the first two games?
A: I'm going to be completely honest with you, okay? During a game, I hear the fans when they get loud, especially on third down. I love that about our fans. I mean, like I said, they're passionate. And I understand their passion both ways. I do understand that. During the game, I've wish we could play every game at home, because it's advantage to the defense. So, I don't look at it as, is it going to be an advantage going on the road the next two weeks or not? I don't look at it that way.
Q: When you say you're making progress, is that execution? Is it effort? Is it preparation? Is it knowledge?
A: That's a great question. Execution, execution of the defense, I think it's all of the above. In just, like, third down, the area of third down. We're getting ready to face a team that—(Dolphins Head Coach) Mike McDaniel is a stud. It goes back to he's from the (49ers Head Coach Kyle) Shanahan tree. It used to be Kyle and everybody would say he's got Mike McDaniel with him. Now, it's Mike McDaniel. He's from that tree, but Mike's his own guy. The thing that they had, they have a lot of things in common, is the stress they put you in on all three downs. I mean, you have to game plan first and second down, just like you do third down. You have to defend every blade of grass against them. They're looking for horizontal seams, they're looking for vertical seams, and they hit it, and they hit it with fast players. That puts a lot of stress on a defense. So, it's one of those games as the defensive coordinator that you call that if you get them to third down—because I think they're averaging like nine-and-a-half third downs a game right now, which is No. 1 in the league in fewest third downs. So, if you get them to third down, and you get off the field on third down, to me as a play caller and that I expressed to the defense, if you get them off field third down, you come over that bench, you're celebrating like you just scored a touchdown defensively. Because that's the challenge that they put upon you as a play caller and as a defense. They're the No. 1 offense in the league.
Q: Are the defensive players getting frustrated at all? When a team struggles to score points, it can magnify mistakes. Maybe you're playing afraid or tentative because one mistake can be the game. How are the players reacting to the situation?
A: I think that's a good question. I think everything gets exaggerated in the situations that we've been in, you know what I mean? Everything. Frustrated, that's what I was talking about in the San Francisco game and in the Seattle game. It didn't matter what happened. They were ready to go back out on the field. I mean, all the way until that last series. That's why I'm saying I like the direction that we're going.
If you want to talk about sacks and everything else, it's hard to get sacks when you don't have the lead. That's just a fact. I mean, that's not saying anything. It's a team game. We've got to play better. That's all I'm concerned about defensively is we've got to play better to help out if somebody else is not playing better. We didn't play well in Arizona in the first half. The offense picked us up, and then we took off. So, it's a team game with all three phases. They have to play together for you to even have a chance in this league.
Q: This was two weeks ago obviously with Miami, but when you see a team put 70 points up on another team, as a defensive coordinator, what's your reaction to that? It doesn't happen very often.
A: My wife called me last night before she went to bed. She said she was worried about me. She said, 'Are you getting any sleep?' I said, 'Yeah, I'm sleeping like a baby; every two hours, I wake up and cry and go to the bathroom and try to go back and get some more sleep.'
I mean, that's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. But that's where this league's heading with some of the other scores. The points have been up pretty high. I told our guys, not the players, I told our staff because we're all old enough to remember 'The Greatest Show on Turf'. This is like that, 2023 supersonic. I mean, they are fast. Faster than that. That's the whole thing that in preparing a team going into this environment, that's not even turf there. It's grass and they're still faster. This quarterback is playing at a high level. I've got a lot of respect for the kid. He knows where to go with the football. He's accurate. He gets rid of it quick. I can't say enough about Mike because of the situations that he puts him in where he can get rid of the ball quick, and he's got those receivers and the right route concepts and everything else to get it to them quick. I'm not just saying quick like three-yard routes. He's throwing them before receivers come out of breaks and it's just put right there on them.
So, in this game, I told the defense, there's going to be plays made. You've got to just have that mentality that's like, 'Here we go again.' Let's just try to get a stop. Every play, let's just try to get a stop. The more we can get them in third downs, the better off it is for us.