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Giants’ DC Wink Martindale: “You want to dictate to the offense”

Read about that and other takeaways from Martindale’s Thursday media availability

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Wink Martindale watches an OTA practice.
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, talked about defensive philosophy, career aspirations, expectations for first-round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux and more during a meeting with media members at Thursday’s OTA.

Let’s get to some of the takeaways.

Defensive philosophy

Martindale is a famously aggressive defensive coach. He loves to scheme pressure and leave cornerbacks in man coverage. How does he describe his defensive philosophy?

“You want to dictate to the offense instead of sitting there and letting them dictate to you,” Martindale said. “Pressure does break pipes, that’s our philosophy.

“At the end of the day you want the quarterback on his back, I don’t care whether he throws it or not. You get quarterback hits they know who they’re playing against ...

“I’m not one of those guys who’s going to drive home and say I wish I didn’t play max coverage there. We put the game in the player’s hands because this game always has been and always will be about the players.”

Martindale promised that “we’re gonna run after the football, we’re gonna tackle people. I guarantee you that. We’ll play hard as they can play.”

Aaron Robinson

Robinson was viewed as a slot cornerback when he was drafted a season ago, yet circumstances led to him playing 149 of his 268 defensive snaps (55.6 percent) on the boundary. This year, Robinson is getting the first opportunity to replace James Bradberry on the boundary.

“The game is slowing down for him, like it is any rookie going into his second year,” Martindale said. “When you put him outside I think it slows it down even more.

“It’s like walking in the middle of the street when you’re inside. Compared to the outside you’re standing on the sidewalk. A lot better, a lot easier.

Becoming a head coach

Martindale said his leaving Baltimore was a mutual decision with Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

“There’s no big secret, I want to become a head coach in this league,” Martindale said. “It was mutual. I love John Harbaugh — he’s a brother, and always will be. Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti took care of my family for 10 years. I love that organization.”

Martindale, who interviewed for the head-coaching job that went to Joe Judge in 2020, said becoming Giants’ defensive coordinator was “an awesome opportunity for me.”

What does Martindale need to prove to become a head coach?

“It’ll happen if it’s supposed to happen,” he said. “I tell my kids this — wherever you’re at is where you’re supposed to be.”

In praise of Jerome Henderson

The Giants moved on from Bradberry and Logan Ryan this offseason. They drafted a cornerback, Cor’Dale Flott, in Round 3 and a safety, Dane Belton, in Round 4. The secondary is filled with young, unproven players and veterans who will be asked to handle bigger roles than they have in the past.

Martindale, though, believes the secondary is in good hands.

“I think we’ve got the best secondary coach in the league in Jerome Henderson,” Martindale said.

Kayvon Thibodeaux expectations

The Giants, of course, chose Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. What is Martindale looking for from the rookie?

Just to be Kayvon. I mean, as a defensive coordinator, you want every pick to be a defensive player. But I was excited,” Martindale said. “He was Drew’s No. 1 guy, Drew Wilkins, the outside linebacker coach, and he was my number one guy coming out of the process.

“He is going to be a lot of fun to be around.”

Why was he Martindale’s top guy?

“Just all his different flexibilities and the way we can use him in the scheme and his pass rush ability,” Martindale said. “He’s a bright, very football-smart kid that has a lot of aspirations and goals, and don’t we all want our kids to have aspirations and goals. I’ve loved him since day one.”

“So much aggression”

Players appear to be loving Martindale’s aggressive scheme. When asked about it last week, Thibodeaux couldn’t contain his enthusiasm. On Thursday, safety Xavier McKinney was much the same.

“It’s really fun ... so much aggression,” McKinney said. “It’s giving us energy. We’re able to go out there and play without worrying about making mistakes. It’s just given us a lot of freedom to just go play, go attack and be the play-makers that we have on our defense.”