New York Giants defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale said Thursday that he has been impressed thus far by cornerback Deonte Banks.
“I think it’s important to have a cornerback like that in anybody’s defense. He’s very instinctive. What’s Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He’s got a short memory when things don’t go right. He’s tough-minded, he’s physical, he can tackle, and on top of that, he can run,” Martindale said.
“So, we’re excited about it. He’s getting into the groove. There’re still some rookie mistakes, which you expect that, especially this early, but we’re really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket.”
Here are some other takeaways from Martindale’s media availability.
Coverage, pass rush work together
Martindale was asked if improved cornerback play would help the pass rush.
“I think that you have to look at the whole picture,” Martindale said. “Quarterbacks get rid of the ball against us faster than most teams they play. Like I said before, we face more max protection than anybody else in the league. It’s fact through PFF (Pro Football Focus). So, I think if you just limit it to just pass rush and sacking the quarterback, you’re not looking at it the right way that I believe anyway. It might be the right way you believe, and that’s fine.
“We’re really excited about who we have, the additions we made, and it’s still in process, what Joe and Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) have done with the roster. We’re still building on that.”
Why do teams max protect so much vs. the Giants?
“We know how to hit the quarterback,” Martindale said. “They know it. It’s not like I’m being boastful either, they just know that we know how to defeat protections. If you ask any offensive coach in the league, they’ll tell you that.”
On the depth at edge
While the Giants did add ILB Bobby Okereke in free agency, they didn’t add to their edge defender position in the offseason. But Martindale doesn’t believe they’re lacking.
“I’m really happy with that room and where they’re going, led by Kayvon (Thibodeaux). We got Haddy (Jihad Ward) back, which I was happy about, and I told the whole defense wherever I’m at, Haddy will have a job. If he’s done playing, he can hang out with me as a coach,” Martindale said.
“But I really like that room. I like its personality. (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew Wilkins does a great job with them. They’re leaders in their own right. I just think that if you’ve seen ‘Zeez (Azeez Ojulari) and are around him all the time you can see that he’s, the best way I could describe it, a lot more sturdy this year. We’ll see how that translates because it’s a crazy league. We’ll see how that translates.”
On Bobby Okereke and the green dot
Martindale certainly seems excited to have the veteran linebacker.
“It’s fun to watch him play because of his size, his strength, but most of all, he’s a good guy. He’s a really intelligent kid that knows football, and it’s not hard to talk football with him,” Mrtindale said. “So, all those things have been great, and we’ve just got to get ready to take the next step. Which for me is vacation.”
Speaking of Okereke, the question of who will wear the green dot (that is, relay the play calls to the rest of the defense) came up. Okereke was one of several defenders to wear the dot during OTAs. The Giants raised eyebrows a year ago by taking the responsibility away from then-middle linebacker Blake Martinez and giving it to safety Xavier McKinney, so it’s interesting that linebackers are back in the mix.
“I don’t think that decision’s been made,” Martindale said. “Think about before we had the headsets. We signaled in. There’s a guy that looks at the signal and then he tells the rest of defense what it is, whoever that might be. And that’s basically what the green dot is. So, we have five different guys wearing green dots and we’re seeing how the communication’s going. We’ve had great communication. X (safety Xavier McKinney) still has a green dot. Bobby has a green dot with that first group that’s out there. We’ll just see how that goes during training camp and everything else.
“All they really are—I know a lot of people look at the green dot as the leader of the defense, am I right when I say that? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. It’s who communicates the best, who’s going to be out there all the time. This is my take on it, and we go from there.”
Defensive line additions
Martindale was asked about the additions on the defensive line and what that could mean for the Giants’ pass rush moving forward.
“I think with the size of them, and you’ve seen them, they’ll be able to collapse,” he said. “Everybody thinks, when they think pass rush, the tackle guys, the inside guys. They think of (former NFL defensive tackle) Warren Sapp and (Rams defensive tackle) Aaron Donald. God touched those guys twice. These guys have just been touched once. So, just as long as they can collapse the pocket, just like Dex did last year, and get the quarterback off the spot, you’ll see a lot of good things happen. I think we’ve got the size and the ability to do that.”
On becoming a head coach
Martindale was also asked if he was at peace with never becoming a head coach, insofar that it doesn’t happen in the future.
“I don’t have a problem sleeping every night. I’m at peace. It sounds a little dramatic, being at peace, but I’m excited to be the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, and the day that I’m not is the day that they say, ‘Hey, you hear Wink retired?’ Every day I get up, I can’t wait to get to the building to be around these guys. It’s always better when the players are here because we find too much stuff to do when the players aren’t here.”