When New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale tells you he’s “sleeping like a baby” over facing the Miami Dolphins offense, you might think he’s crazy. But every parent out there knows exactly what he’s talking about.
“My wife called me last night before she went to bed. She said she was worried about me. She said, ‘Are you getting any sleep?’” Martindale explained when asked about facing a team that put up 70 points two weeks ago. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sleeping like a baby; every two hours, I wake up and cry and go to the bathroom and try to go back and get some more sleep.’”
Martindale called the Dolphins’ offense a “2023 supersonic” version of the Rams’ ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ offense from 1999-2001.
“It’s like, if you were driving on Daytona NASCAR and jump and try to race against a Formula 1 guy,” he said. “Those guys, they’re fast. It’s not just (wide receiver) Tyreek (Hill) anymore. (Wide receiver Jaylen) Waddle... the rookie running back (De’Von Achane), he runs 4.3 with his pads on. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Martindale added, “That’s the whole thing that in preparing a team going into this environment, that’s not even turf there. It’s grass and they’re still faster.”
On the Giants’ tackling
The Giants have struggled with tackling through the first four games of the season, and it showed up in a major way on Noah Fant’s 51-yard reception. Martindale remarked that missed tackles are going to happen in the NFL, but there is an overarching issue.
“We need to have fewer guys saying they want one or two plays back. ... So, there’s guys that you could go back and look at the last four games, and like I said, it’s one or two plays. But if you have six guys that have one or two plays a game that they want back, that’s too many. We’re just trying to get better every day. I think we’re going down that path. You saw the way we played.”
On the two-game road trip
With the Giants’ struggles to start the season, Martindale was asked if it’s a good thing for the team to be heading on the road over the next two weeks.
“During a game, I hear the fans when they get loud, especially on third down. I love that about our fans. I mean, like I said, they’re passionate. And I understand their passion both ways. I do understand that,” he answered.
“During the game, I’ve wish we could play every game at home, because it’s advantage to the defense. So, I don’t look at it as, is it going to be an advantage going on the road the next two weeks or not? I don’t look at it that way.”
On third-down defense
Martindale pointed to third down as the biggest area of improvement against Seattle. The Giants’ defense limited the Seahawks to 3-for-12 on the money down and 281 yards of total offense.
Against Miami, third down is going to be a priority for the Giants. Martindale praised Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, calling him a “stud” and comparing him to his old head coach, Kyle Shanahan. “The thing that they had, they have a lot of things in common, is the stress they put you in on all three downs.”
“They’re looking for horizontal seams, they’re looking for vertical seams, and they hit it, and they hit it with fast players. That puts a lot of stress on a defense,” he elaborated. “So, it’s one of those games as the defensive coordinator that you call that if you get them to third down—because I think they’re averaging like nine-and-a-half third downs a game right now, which is No. 1 in the league in fewest third downs. So, if you get them to third down, and you get off the field on third down... you come over that bench, you’re celebrating like you just scored a touchdown defensively.”
On Tua Tagovailoa
Martindale had high words of praise for the Dolphins quarterback, as well as the team’s offensive architecture.
“This quarterback is playing at a high level. I’ve got a lot of respect for the kid. He knows where to go with the football. He’s accurate. He gets rid of it quick,” he stated. “I can’t say enough about Mike [McDaniel] because of the situations that he puts him in where he can get rid of the ball quick, and he’s got those receivers and the right route concepts and everything else to get it to them quick. I’m not just saying quick like three-yard routes. He’s throwing them before receivers come out of breaks and it’s just put right there on them.”
The Giants have their work cut out for them this week. Martindale likely isn’t the only one in the defensive room who’s been sleeping like a baby.