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Giants’ DC Wink Martindale: ‘Speed’ is what could make Giants’ defense better

Takeaways from Martindale’s Wednesday media availability

NFL: AUG 01 New York Giants Training Camp
Bobby Okereke
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said on Wednesday that he goes into “every year” thinking his group can be one of the best in the NFL.

Martindale is particularly excited to see what this year’s team can do.

“I think that the biggest thing you will see is the difference in our speed and as soon as we can catch the execution up with the speed, like I said, it’s going to be fun for you guys to watch and for our city to watch and our fans to watch,” he said.

The Giants have added speed at cornerback with rookies Tae Banks (4.35 40-yard dash, 92nd percentile) and Tre Hawkins III (4.42). Linebackers Bobby Okereke and Isaiah Simmons bring athleticism the Giants did not possess at that level of their defense a season ago. Jason Pinnock (9.77 Relative Athletic Score) is a better athlete than Julian Love (7.05 RAS), who is the player he replaced.

Here are some other takeaways from Martindale’s Wednesday media availability.

On Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins

The Giants fan base, and probably most anyone who follows the NFL closely, has to be curious how things will go for the Giants this season as they start Banks and Hawkins, two rookies, at outside cornerback.

Martindale’s reaction when the Giants drafted Banks went viral, and the first-round pick has not disappointed the veteran coordinator.

“He has been and reacted in different situations just like we thought he would. He’s a very competitive person. I like his attitude,” Martindale said. “He loves to compete. He loves this defense. He loves the system.

“You can tell the way his teammates have grown close to him already that he’s an all-around good guy that’s going to have a lot of success in this league.”

Martindale knows that Banks and Hawkins, a sixth-round pick who won the starting job with an excellent summer, will make mistakes. He also thinks he knows that they will handle those mistakes.

“There’s going to be hiccups, we all know that,” Martindale said. “They’re two strong-willed individuals. I think they’re going to be just fine.”

On Isaiah Simmons

The Giants acquired Simmons, listed as a linebacker, from the Arizona Cardinals for a seventh-round pick near the end of the preseason.

GM Joe Schoen said at the time that Martindale, who loves to call his defense “positionless,” had a plan for Simmons.

Martindale seems to be excited about what the former No. 8 overall pick can do for his defense.

“I think he fits perfectly,” Martindale said. “I think he’s perfect for this defense.

“We’ve had success with really good football players, and I think he’s a really good football player. I just believe in him, and I believe in all the guys that are playing and I think he’s going to be fun to watch.”

Martindale said he “loved” Simmons coming out of the draft. He also studied all of Simmons’ tape with the Arizona Cardinals, and saw lots of things he could use.

“I think it fits our system great. It’s not what position are you going to play him at. We’re going to play him wherever we need him because he can do so many different things. We’ve talked before about a positionless defense. He fits perfect to that.”

Kayvon vs. Micah

Martindale did not want to get into comparing young edge defenders Kayvon Thibodeaux of the Giants and Micah Parsons of the Cowboys — a direct comparison that thus far would be unfair to Thibodeaux.

“I mean I think they both have a lot of things they do really well. Some different things that some do better than others and vice versa, but I like Kayvon. Just who he is and what he does for this defense. He brings so much flexibility to the defense that people don’t really understand that he does everything,” Martindale said. “It’s like we have talked about before, say there is 700 plays, you are going to like 650 of them and not talk about the 10 sacks or eight sacks or nine and a half sacks, whatever number gets placed on him because that’s just a blip on the radar screen for everything else that he does.

“I think any player that’s judged with the microscope that he is and when they have success and when they really take that next step is when they become finishers at the quarterback and finishers when they get their hands on the football and things of that nature, but you know when everybody talks about sacks and everything else, they forget about him sprinting 40 yards down the field and tackling a tailback that’s running. Guys don’t usually make those plays; he makes those plays.”