From the moment he set foot in the New York Giants training facility, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale set out to build an aggressive, championship-style defense that would give opposing offensive coordinators something to think about.
Martindale has had a few challenges along the way: losing both his starting cornerbacks Aaron Robinson and Adoree' Jackson for large chunks of the season and having to go for several weeks without guys like defensive linemen Leonard Wiliams, safety Xavier McKinney and edge rusher Azeez Ojulari are among them. But as far as things stand now, Martindale is pleased with the overall direction the defense is headed.
"We’re in the playoffs; that’s number one. I just think that with my experience, I can see it building," he said when asked what makes this Giants unit a playoff-caliber defense. "I said something to them during a loss, 'We’re building a playoff defense here guys, make no mistake about it,' and I feel that way."
Martindale praised his players' attitude and work ethic, noting that they don't hold on to the past, be it good or bad. "If there’s a mistake, we correct it. If there’s a play, we celebrate it, and then we get ready to go play the next play," he said.
"They’ve just been so professional in studying their opponent, studying the gameplan, and that’s the thing that’s exciting to me about it is they’ve been rewarded for it."
Martindale has been most impressed with how the different personalities in the defensive meeting room have melded together to form a cohesive unit.
"They’re selfless in how they care for each other, and they’re just as happy to see someone else be successful than themselves. When you get things going that way, that’s a lot of fun," he said.
Martindale won't take any credit, but his approach to changing up the defense every week based on the opponent rather than trying to run the same core system has played a big part in the Giants' defensive success.
"Everything is punch and counter punch. Just like we did when we played Washington, from the first time into the second time. Same thing we did with Philly, and looking back on it, I think we did the same thing in Dallas," he said.
"We had a lot of injuries in that game, but we still held them lower than what they were averaging scoring. ... You’ve got to have counterpunches to everything you do."
This weekend, Martindale hopes to have his defense deliver the knockout punch to the Minnesota Vikings, who host the Giants in the Super Wild Card round.
"I just think we’re in the playoffs, we’ve built a playoff defense, and it’s different ways to do it. We went a different route this year than I’m used to in the past, but it’s been a lot of fun, and I’m excited. I’m really happy where we’re at and excited to see where we’re going to go," he added.
Join the Giants Country Community
- Sign up for our FREE digest newsletter
- Follow and like us on Facebook
- Submit your questions for our mailbag
- Check out the new Giants Country YouTube Channel.
- Listen and subscribe to the daily LockedOn Giants podcast.
- Subscribe and like the LockedOn Giants YouTube Channel
- Sign up for our FREE message board forums
- Get your Giants tickets today from SI Tickets!