Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Well, that was a tough one obviously last week. I thought we started pretty well and then we got to find a way to keep it going. In the second quarter we got some guys banged up and that caught up to us and then the avalanche started to happen, so all credit to Dallas and their game plan. We've hit the reset button, and we are getting ready to go play a better Washington team than we played 24, 25 days ago, how many days ago it's been. It's going to be a tough challenge for us. I think (Commanders quarterback) Sam's (Howell) playing a lot better. He's getting rid of the ball quicker. I think that he's starting to find the answers that (Commanders offensive coordinator) Eric (Bieniemy) has in his offense. I told the defense it's equating to the same thing as how (inside linebacker) Bobby's (Okereke) improved and progressed as the MIKE linebacker in our defense. I think Sam Howell's done the same at quarterback for Washington, so with that I'll open it up to questions.
Q: Do you have any concerns about Bobby's injury? He's been on the field for 100% of the snaps.
A: I mean, yeah, anytime anybody gets banged up, I've got concerns for them, but we'll see where he's at and I think Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) will answer all those questions about the injuries.
Q: If you had to replace him though, what goes into that? Obviously, he's a key piece to your defense. Does (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden) kind of step more into that role?
A: Yeah, I believe it would be Micah. We'd sit down and talk about it. (Inside linebacker Darrian) Beavs (Beavers) is really starting to come back from a knee injury and looking well, doing nice things in practice, so I think we would have to wait and see what we could do roster wise and everything else with (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and Dabs and go from there, but you know Micah has been playing well. Got a little beat up in the Dallas game, but I think that's what we would have to do.
Q: Can you talk about Micah's development? Sometimes when a season is not going great, it's like is a guy really developing or he is just standing out among other guys? It looks like he might be actually really developing.
A: No and I think you're right. I think he has developed and credit to him, the hard work he's put in, the hard work he put in the offseason. He's got more confidence and I think (inside linebacker) Bobby (Okereke) has a lot to do with Micah's development as well. Egs (inside linebackers coach John Egoruwu) has done a great job with all those guys in that room but
Micah, he's done a nice job of taking the opportunity and running with it. And you know, he'd be the first to tell you he still has things he wants to work on and get better at as well and that's one of the reasons why he's improving.
Q: How unique is giving up 640 yards in your career?
A: (Shivers) No, it was tough. It doesn't happen very often, or you wouldn't have this job very long so, you know, it was a tough game. It was really a tough game, but like I said I give Dallas credit. It was one of those games that you make a call, and you feel real good about it until the ball is snapped and then you are like, 'Oh, no.' You know? It was a tough one for all of us.
Q: Do you think your players kind of got dispirited as the game went along given the scoreboard?
A: I don't know. I still think those guys fight. I think they've got too much respect for the game and like I said, you know we had some guys, (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) and Tae (cornerback Deonte Banks) and some guys went down there at halftime, but they all fought. I think that's one of the many things that I love about them is that they are fighters, and they are going to fight.
Q: With what you just said, you kind of understand why it happened, obviously, but do you then challenge the group this week? Or do you step back and take a different kind of tone with your defensive players?
A: No, I think that you've got to stay consistent, and you do challenge them, you challenge them every week and the challenge is Washington's offense and this league, there is no easy outs, you know what I mean? They are going to step on your throat if they think you're down. And you do the same thing defensively if you are doing that to an offense. I think the challenge is we have to get ready for Washington and the players see how much they've improved as well, offensively. The way the quarterback's been playing and the receivers are stepping up their game and (Commanders tight end) Logan (Thomas) is his security blanket in third-down and red zone and things like that, so it's going to be a great challenge for us.
Q: With (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) and D (Deonte Banks) and (cornerback) Cor'Dale (Flott) all a little dinged, do you have to adjust much what you are doing? Or do you just say next man up, do the same thing?
A: No, I think you have to adjust, I really do. It's one of those things like in the Dallas game when the ball is thrown down the field so far, I know there is some broadcasters that think you are in man coverage all the time and we were in three deep zones, we were in two deep, we tried every coverage but when the ball is thrown that far down the field, it ends up being a one on one situation and sometimes you make the play and sometimes they make the play. So, that's the challenge that you have.
Q: Did you play more zone as the game went along there? Is that what you are saying?
A: Tried to. Tried to. Quite honestly, it's like we didn't have our fastball, our curveball or our change up. They just hit it out of the park whatever we threw at them, it was just one of those games. Like I said, I give credit to Dallas.
Q: The broadcast showed you and Daboll in an extended conversation at the end of the second quarter and then (FOX Sports Reporter Tom) Rinaldi pointed that after halftime it was continuing.
A: Dabs said something to me after the game about that and he and I talk all the time, but in those two situations I talked to him about what happened because one thing about our defense, we don't give up a whole lot of big passing plays and I credit the secondary to that and Rome (defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson) and we gave up some big plays in the passing game, which you all saw. So, I told him what happened on the coverages. That was it right before half. And then coming back out, he had just got done at that time talking to the trainers and we were talking about who wasn't coming back for the third quarter during that time and that turned into whatever it turned into but there was nothing to it.
Q: You've played a couple games without (defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams) now, what have you seen from how the defensive line has adjusted?
A: I think that Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nuñez-Roches) and (defensive lineman) A'Shawn (Robinson) have really stepped up and I think (defensive lineman) D.J. Davidson, the last three weeks has had some of the best practices since he's been here. He's on the rise, he's on the come (up) as well. A'Shawn, like the last three weeks, has done some nice things for us and Nacho has as well. When you have a game like that, nobody played well. Nobody. We didn't coach well, we didn't play well, we didn't – whatever you want to put on it, put on it. But there is no hiding from that. Like I said, I give Dallas a lot of credit.
Q: You haven't been in this spot a lot in your career, is there a point at which you want to give more reps to young guys, guys who aren't playing as much, to see them and evaluate them or is it always play the best player?
A: I mean, that's the way it is with my philosophy unless somebody comes to me and says they want to see this guy and play this guy, obviously that's what we'll do, but you're here to win, every day. Offseason, during the season, everything else, so we are playing these games to win them and play well.
Q: Did you feel like you lost more than just the football stuff with Leo, and have you been able to get that back?
A: I think we've got great leaders in that room; you know, like I said, we miss Leo. We miss the guy, his personality. But no, I think there is great leadership, starting with Dre (defensive line coach Andre Patterson) in that d-line room and (defensive lineman) Dex(ter Lawrence II) being number one and Nacho and A'Shawn, they've done a great job as far as leading and leading within the entire defense as well. So, like I said, I miss the guy just cause you miss Leo, but I don't think we lost anything leadership wise that way.