Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Really pleased with where we're heading and the direction we're heading defensively. I think you're seeing the development of a lot of our young players that are getting better every week, and our veterans that are stepping up and playing really well on Sunday. I'm excited to see where this thing goes.
With that, I'll open it up for questions.
Q: How do you replace (defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams)?
A: I don't think that you ever look at it that way. I think as far as replacing somebody, I think you look at it as that we've got two veterans that are ready to step in and step up in different situations. You've got to move some people around sometimes and there's a challenge with that.
I'm not going to sit here and say we're not going to miss Leo; we're going to miss Leo. I'm going to miss the person and the guy himself. I wish him nothing but the best of luck and I hope he does things well out in Seattle.
Q: Is there any scenario where it's the right play to, in the last 24 seconds of a game, play defense honestly the way you guys dominated the whole game, or do you have to back up into a prevent soft coverage there?
A: You could say it's soft coverage. It's situational defensive coverage that worked pretty well in some games last year. It's man under and three deep, and at that time you're playing the clock. You're not playing the offense; you're playing the clock. They had no timeouts. You're trying to tackle them in bounds, which makes them panic and go into a hurry up, Hail Mary, if you will. But it just didn't work out that way.
Q: What did you think of the (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) offsides? I know he didn't seem to think he was offsides.
A: I support Kayvon. If he didn't think that, I don't think that. But they called it. They threw the flag. I've said that many times standing up here. I don't think (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell is going to say 'Hey, hold on a second.' I think that you're talking about a guy that's a young player in this league, and he knows situational football. He's mad at himself that it was even in question.
Credit to the Jets. They made some plays there at the end of the game to win the game.
Q: Kayvon has played pretty much every snap the last couple games. How comfortable are you with that workload? Is that sustainable, and what does it say about him that he's able to do it?
A: I think there's other guys in the league that play a lot of reps. The good thing is that he's young. Do you want him to play all those reps? No, but sometimes it's the way the game works out. Do you want to have a play where he's not out there? That's a testament to how well he's playing. So, you say, 'Hey, let's rest him,' and then go, 'Get him back in there!' You know what I mean?
It's a thing that he's been working his tail off. We talked about pass rush a month ago and when you're developing pass rushers, it's not just a straight arrow. Usually, it's a rollercoaster ride in developing those guys, but with him and working with (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew (Wilkins) and consistently studying everything, you're seeing the growth of him as a pass rusher. I'm really happy for the guy.
Q: What's he doing better as a pass rusher?
A: Everything. Everything. Everything from the classroom in there with Drew and studying the tackles, and he's perfecting his moves and counters and things like that. He's taking advantage of situations when he gets one-on-ones.
You guys know how I feel about Kayvon. I stand up here and say it every day. I told him, hell, I feel like I'm his attorney sometimes standing up here. But I really do. I think he's a great person. He's becoming a leader of this defense as well. I think that his hard work is really paying off for him.
Q: When you look at what (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence II) has been able to do over the course of last season and now this year, the stretch that he's on right now, statistically, people talk about pressures and what he's been able to do for a guy who's lined up essentially over at the nose. For all the great ones that you've coached, can you put into perspective where Dexter is right now and what he's been able to accomplish?
A: Because I'm here now and he's here now, he's the best I've ever seen. I think that when I retire and we're drinking a glass of wine down in Florida, you can ask me that question.
But I tell you, the guy really is, he's unbelievable. A man that big shouldn't be that athletic. We can all say that when you watch him. He's playing at a high level, he's very confident in what he can do. Just like I said with Kayvon, every year, and every day that we spend with them, and Dre (Defensive Line Coach Andre Patterson) has worked his tail off with him as well. The assistants have done a great job defensively developing these younger guys. Look at (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden) as an inside backer. It's not the same extreme as far as what you're talking about with Dex, but Dex, he's a freak. He's a freak of nature.
Q: How do you prepare for a receiver like (Raiders wide receiver) Davante Adams?
A: I've said this before: he's one of the top two receivers in the league, and he's not number two. I think that guy, you can have three people on him, and he'll still come up with the catch. He's a competitor. I think that it's going to be a great challenge for us this weekend.
Q: How important is it that a player with Thibodeaux's gifts wants to be great? Because in my career, for whatever that's worth, I think you see players and you say, 'They just didn't fulfill.' So how important is that quality?
A: I think when you look at players like that, maybe they can't fulfill them is why they don't fulfill them. You know what I mean? It's how we see that player. Maybe we see them better than they see themselves. But Kayvon, like I said, there is no ceiling on him and how good he can be. It's his personality. It's his work ethic. It's how he was raised. It's all those different things that go into it, and how much he likes to receive coaching. Like I said, he's a guy that I always want to be around, and that makes it fun to come to work.
Q: You've talked about in the past how much you enjoy it here and how much you enjoy being here. Just because it's coming up this week, (Raiders Defensive Coordinator) Patrick Graham obviously was here and then left for there, and that opened up this spot. Do you think about that at all, or the circumstances of how you arrived?
A: No, not really. I don't. I just think – I've said this before, too – wherever you're at is where you're supposed to be. This week with it being the Raiders, I do think about (Raiders Owner) Mr. (Al) Davis, and my time that I was able to spend with him. Like I said before, it's those games where, just like Buffalo when we were talking about (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll) going back to Buffalo, I think it's just one of those games that you look forward to.
There's Raider fans here in Jersey that come up to me and they remember when I was with them in Oakland. It's a fun game to play in. If you're a historian of the league, Giants versus the Raiders, can it get any better than that? I know there's other rivalries, but that's two historic franchises. We're looking forward to giving it our best shot.
Q: What do you expect from a new offensive coordinator (Bo Hardegree), new quarterback (Aidan O'Connell), and obviously, not a lot of film on either one?
A: I think that's a tough one. I think that the offensive coordinator, I've been in those shoes before, not mid-season as far as becoming a coordinator, but it takes a while for coordinators to find themselves as well. But you'll see his personality early in the game as far as the coordinator goes.
The rookie quarterback is going to be a rookie quarterback. The quarterbacks in this league, they can either come out and be real hot, or quick games, I'm sure we'll see more screens than ever, especially on third down and things like that where they get the ball out of his hands quick. It's going to be a great challenge for us because the kid has talent. We know he's going to get the ball to 17 (wide receiver Davante Adams) and we know he's going to hand the ball off to No. 8 (running back Josh Jacobs). So, I think who's ever playing quarterback, they're going to get the ball to 17 and hand the ball off to No. 8. (Wide receiver) Jakobi (Meyers) does a nice job for them as well out there, and you can't just fall asleep on the other guys. They have talent offensively.