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Wink Martindale feels 're-energized' with Giants


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Wink Martindale came to praise the Baltimore Ravens.

Now he wants to bury them.

Martindale, the Giants' first-year defensive coordinator, spent the previous 10 seasons with Baltimore, the last four as its defensive coordinator. On Sunday, he will face his former team for the first time when the 3-2 Ravens visit the 4-1 Giants in MetLife Stadium. In his weekly meeting with reporters today, Martindale spoke of the Ravens as he would a group of college buddies, with affection and respect.

And that's precisely why this is not just an ordinary game against a standard opponent.

"It's different just for this reason, I have a lot of friends on that other sideline," Martindale said. "A lot of people that have meant a lot to me in my life. But whenever someone asks me about the Ravens, I always think about (Ravens defensive line coach) Clarence Brooks, my dear friend. He's the one, and I've used it ever since, who said this game always has been and always will be about the players. That's the truth. So, in that essence, it's game six, but like I said I have a deep love for a lot of people over there. (Ravens owner) Steve Bisciotti took care of my family for 10 years. Obviously, (coach) John (Harbaugh) and I have coached together. I've coached with his dad, and I've known the family forever, he's like a brother. (Executive vice president) Ozzie Newsome was a mentor for me for 10 years over there and we helped build something that they're on their 15th year of doing right now. The exciting part about coming here is it's year one. We've just got to stay with the process, where we're going, and how we're going to get there."

Martindale is one of five former Ravens assistants on Brian Daboll's staff. The others are Andy Bischoff (tight ends), John Egorugwu (inside linebackers), Drew Wilkins (outside linebackers) and Kevin Wilkins (defensive assistant).

Martindale's Baltimore defenses were consistently among the NFL's best. His unit ranked in the top three in the NFL in points allowed in each of his first three seasons (2018-20), and first, fourth and seventh, respectively, in yardage yielded while never finishing lower than eighth against the run or the pass. In those three years, the Ravens permitted both the league's fewest points (18.2 a game) and total yards per game (307.8) and were tied for the league lead with 12 defensive touchdowns.

Last year, Martindale's defense overcame numerous injuries to lead the NFL against the run, allowing 84.5 yards a game. Baltimore was also third in the league in third down defense, as their opponents converted only 34.8% of their opportunities.

All which begs the question, if Martindale's unit was so effective and he was so happy working there, why is he here?

"I think that it's just one of those things," Martindale said. "I always believe that wherever you're at is where you're supposed to be. John and I had conversations way back before they made the announcement of about where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do. I knew there was going to be a lot of movement in the NFL, and it has reenergized me to go someplace new and try to build it again. It was like I said, we're family, John and I are. It was nothing negative, it was just time. When I say it was just time, it was just time for both of us."

Martindale's first Giants defense has had an impressive five-game start. The team ranks ninth in the NFL in points allowed (18.6 a game) and 12th in yardage (326.0), including eighth against the pass (194.4). The players have enjoyed playing in his pressure-heavy system. And though this is the second straight season injuries have hit Martindale's secondary, they haven't affected the quality of play, as evidenced by how well the players performed in the Giants' 27-22 victory last week against Green Bay in London.

"I want this game to be about them," Martindale said. "I think Dabs alluded to this earlier. In coaching, we're gypsies anyway. Now I happened to be there for 10 years, which is a long time. I was also in Oakland, and I was also in Denver. For coaches, that's just the way our profession is. Is there a little competitive spirit in you when you go play a team you used to work for? Sure, there is. I'm not going to deny that. Everybody knows that. But as far as circling the game and everything else, this is just the next game. We've had success approaching it that way.

"We empty the tank on Sunday and we fill it up the rest of the week. I just think that's how you have to approach it. What I tell the players all the time is, 'What I owe you during the game is my composure. That's where I show you my athleticism is keeping my composure, so you're always thinking about the next play.' There's some people telling me that I need to be more animated on the sidelines and you're not going to be animated if you're thinking about the next play, what you're going to call next. It's like when you watch two people playing chess, if a guy makes a great move, he doesn't stand up out of the chair and chest bump somebody because he did it."

So, if the Giants win Sunday, don't expect an emotional outburst from Martindale. He will be among friends. And to him, the game is all about those who play it.

*The Giants today made a few changes to their injury report. Tight end Tanner Hudson (illness) and linebacker Jihad Ward (not injury related) did not participate. Punter Jamie Gillan, who did not work yesterday as he returned from England (officially not injury related), and quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who was limited (concussion), both practiced fully.

Also on the did not practice list were wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (hamstring), and defensive backs Cor'Dale Flott (calf), Tony Jefferson (foot) and Jason Pinnock (ankle).

The players who were limited included running back Saquon Barkley (shoulder), wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee), fullback Chris Myarick (ankle), defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee), defensive end Azeez Ojulari (calf) and defensive backs Adoree' Jackson (knee/neck) and Darnay Homes (quad).

*On Sunday, October 16, the Giants will be celebrating Latino Heritage Month in partnership with Ford and supported by Dunkin' and PNC Private Bank. Fans will be welcomed with several plaza festivities, including: Sampling of Latin cuisine, live DJ, Latin style dance exhibition, Super Bowl trophy on display (weather permitting), and more. The festivities will take place on the plaza between MetLife and Verizon gates.

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