Wink Martindale has been perfect man to restore Giants’ defensive identity

Vink Martindale positions himself like a sheriff rather than a deputy, and talks like a head coach rather than a defensive coordinator. He makes a statement opening his media session and calls for questions, and then before his first home game as a Giants assistant, asks fans to turn MetLife Stadium into the seventh circle of hell.

Martindale interviewed to become the head coach of the Giants when Joe Judge got the job and, at the age of 59, still wants to call an NFL team his own. It says some positive things about the upper echelons of the team’s coaching staff.

1. Martindale is hungry and ambitious, and every organization wants hungry and ambitious people.

2. Just as head coach Brian Dabol was unafraid to assign play-calling to a fellow offensive specialist (Mike Kafka), he was unafraid to hire Martindale, an extra-large personality and relative stranger, who would use his new platform. want to achieve your goal. ultimate career goal.

If the Giants are to follow up their surprising road upset of the Titans with Sunday’s win over the Panthers, and then with a season that breaks five straight streaks defined by double-digit losses, Martindale will be a mainstay. He’s the lost son of Buddy Ryan, a big-talking renegade who never found a blitz package he didn’t like.

It’s too bad the late Al Davis famously said, “The quarterback of the other team should go down, and he should go down hard,” because Martindale will probably have come up with that one next week.

wink martindale
Vink is in his first season as the Martindale Giants’ defensive coordinator.
Charles Weinzelberg / New York Post

“Whether you’re playing golf with him, playing pickup hoops, or you’re on the football field, this guy has the personality that he wants to win and he wants to win by attacking you and imposing on you.” Said Giants outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins, who spent a decade working with Martindale in Baltimore.

“I know I love this system. … I think our whole staff loves coaching in this system, and the players love to play in it because it looks like you’re taking offense on defense We’re not going to sit back and say, ‘Oh, this guy made a good throw.’ …we’re going to impress the quarterback. Everyone on the field is in an attacking mindset.”

In 2018, his first year as John Harbaugh’s coordinator in Baltimore, Martindale applied that philosophy to helping the Ravens build the league’s top-ranking defense. That unit was ranked fourth in 2019 and seventh in 2020, but ranked 25th in 2021, when Baltimore was decimated by injuries. Harbaugh thought it was best to make a change, and Martindale thought his chances of becoming head coach in the New York market would increase anyway.

Patrick Graham’s sudden departure for Las Vegas opened the door to the big city for Martindale, and first-time head coach Dabol didn’t hesitate to hire someone he didn’t really know. Dabol and Martindale have praised each other’s competitiveness, and by all accounts impressed it.

“They are very similar,” Wilkins told The Post. “They’re both driven by description and they speak the same language. They blend really well together, and it’s like you’re getting the same urgency and the same pure leadership from both of them in our meetings. ”

wink martindale
Vink has been the perfect man to restore the Martindale Giants’ defensive identity.
AP

That urgency and leadership worked against Tennessee in the second half, when the Giants’ defense battled Derrick Henry and included the Titans without help from injured edge rushers Kyvan Thibodaux and Aziz Ojullari. Giants defensive back coach Jerome Henderson said he had never seen his cover corner, Adori ‘Jackson, play with such physicality and purpose in his quest to hit people.

“I think it’s a credit to the way Wink has built our system,” Henderson said, “and the faith he puts in our players and what he demands of us.”

Henderson relayed that Martindale has repeatedly said that he is building a “bullying” defense, which is no surprise. When the Giants hired Martindale, his former boss, Harbaugh, told The Post the following:

“The veteran fans are going to really love his style. He will be in attack mode. He is definitely one of the best defensive play-callers in the league, and is a real pleasure to have around every day. I have great respect for him. He is a very confident, charismatic kind of coach. … you have to be ready for any call at any time, and this has become one of his trademarks. And he keeps it honest and is very direct with the players. ,

wink martindale
wink martindale
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Of course, that recommendation prompted a natural follow-up: Why, then, did Harbaugh drive Martindale to the door?

An educated guess says that Martindale’s outside shape was less attractive with the Ravens at 8-9, and with their defense four places lower than the Giants’ defense. Both sides knew it was time for the Sheriff to find a new Dodge City, dressed in an eclectic array of hats, dark colors, hooded vests, long-sleeved shirts, shorts and shoes.

On the second day, Martindale ordered Giants fans to convert MetLife Stadium into a venue that would scare opponents.

“We’ll take care of the rest,” he promised, “and we’ll give you something to be said aloud about.”

Great Giants teams always start with defense. With the Martindale as a weapon, this unit should definitely make some noise.

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