Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: What a great win it was Sunday. The resiliency that we played with defensively, I was so proud of those guys. I was really proud of the fans too because that place got loud. I keep saying every week how much that helps us as a defense, and it surely did there in the fourth quarter against the Ravens. With that, I'll open it up to questions.
Q: Can you admit now that it had a little extra meaning to you?
A: I still was glad to see everybody because of the relationships we built over the last 10 years. Like I said, you can't deny if you're competitive, you want to beat the last place you're at. How I explained it to you guys, I spoke from the heart, and I told you exactly how I felt going into it and that's how I felt afterwards. It was great to see (Ravens quarterback) Lamar (Jackson) and not talk to him about football, but just to see how he's doing and things like that. So, it was a lot of fun, especially the way it turned out.
Q: You had 10 men on the touchdown, what's the issue there?
A: I think it's all part of building this thing. It's communication through all of us and we're all responsible for it. We've just got to continue to work on our substitutions during the game. Sometimes they're bang-bang situations that guys got to be locked in and hear it.
Q: What have you seen from (Jaguars quarterback) Trevor Lawrence? It seems like he's different than he was last year.
A: I think that it's a perfect marriage between he and (Jaguars head coach) Doug (Pederson) and Mike McCoy, the quarterback coach. Doug has always had a good quarterback and they always play well with his offense. It's pretty cool to see just because of how much I respect Doug and Trevor because he was the first player taken in the draft. You know he has talent.
Q: You guys are underdogs in this game, how much do you sense that your unit views themselves in that role, as underdogs?
A: I've always considered myself an underdog. You'd have to ask them individually as players. I like coaching life that way because when you're the underdog you always try to keep that edge to you going into any competition or anything like that. I think that whoever sets the line, sets the line. I don't know what's happening with it.
Q: I just meant more like big picture for the season. Do your guys look at the expectations set on the outside?
A: We really don't. It's one of those things where each week we're approaching it the same way. I told you all before you empty your tank on Sundays, what (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs talks to the whole team about, and we fill it up during the week. They have done that. We've tried to stay as consistent as we can be every day, and I think that's really helped us. The competitive stamina that this group has and resiliency and the culture that Dabs and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) have built, it's been a lot of fun to work here.
Q: For a while, we went through a phase where rookie quarterbacks were taking the league by storm. Lamar was one of them. Has that abated a little bit? Trevor Lawrence came in as one of the best prospects most people can remember, and he struggled.
A: I think there are a multitude of things that go into a player struggling. You can fill in the blank spaces there anyway you want, but I think it's a good marriage between he and Doug and that offense. And you can really see that he is playing with some confidence. The first part of your question, I think there are a lot of really good, young quarterbacks in this league. The future is very exciting in the National Football League.
Q: Maybe I'm crazy, but before the season, I thought, 'If the Giants are going to blitz this much, they're probably going to force a lot of bad throws that get intercepted, and the flip side is that they'll probably get beat over the top a couple of times in man coverage.' Neither one of those things has happened. You guys got your first interception, and you haven't gotten beat deep. Why?
A: Give credit to (defensive backs coach) Jerome (Henderson) and (assistant defensive backs coach) Mike Treier and the secondary. They've really played well fundamentally and used all the techniques that they work on together, and it's like I said, Jerome – I can't say enough good things about Jerome. The blitzing part, we play each game different. And just that's where the stats are at right now. I'm not going to call them unless I think they're going to hit. A lot of times, too, you can't look at just the different statistical categories because each game you're trying to do something to make them play left-handed. We knew last week, for example, that it was going to come down to the fourth quarter and you needed to save some things for the fourth quarter to win the game. And all the players were right on board with it. They knew the plan going into it, and they executed it.
Q: When you play a younger quarterback like Trevor, how much do you enjoy blitzing? Do you relish the opportunity to go up against a guy who hasn't seen too much of your stuff before? He doesn't have the experience to fall back on.
A: I don't really look at it that way. Monday night is when we have our mayhem meetings. Me and (outside linebackers coach) Drew (Wilkins) and Jerome and (defensive assistant) Kevin (Wilkins). And we study protections, and we just try to give them different looks that they haven't seen. Like I said before, (Jacksonville Jaguars head coach) Doug Pederson, he's gone against us plenty of times. So, I'm sure he'll have a plan for it. We'll just see who can outexecute who.
Q: (Defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) has played 90 percent of snaps the last three games, I think. Is that a concern at all, or what's he showing you?
A: He's in great shape right now. It does concern you for the 17-game schedule, so we're going to try to find spots to spot him some reps. But when he's playing as well as he is, it's so hard to –. It's like if you had a Rolls-Royce, wouldn't you want to drive it everywhere? It's just, he's playing really well. And he wants to go back in. We're going to try to peel back on some of those reps if we can; it always depends on where we're at in a game.
Q: I was just going to follow up on that: what he's shown you the last three games? He's doing so well.
A: He's the player that we thought he would be. He's using his length. He's using his power. He's converting from the run game to pass rush on play-action pass. He's being the force that we thought he would be.
Q: You mentioned coming up with things they haven't seen before. Where did you come up with the – I don't even know how to describe it. (It was the play) where the three guys were stacked above the center. It was like a defensive eye formation with Dexter Lawrence, (outside linebacker) Oshane (Ximines). You know the play I'm talking about?
A: Yeah, like a bunch. Yeah. That's part of our Monday meeting. We look at their protections – each team differently – and we just knew that would give them a hard time sorting that out the way we did it. Our guys did a great job of executing, like that bunch formation you talked about in the middle. That's always fun when they get to do things like that.
Q: Have you used that before somewhere?
A: I think I used that back at Western Illinois (laughs). 1999.
Q: I'll get the tape.
A: That was versus an option team.
Q: What do you call it? Do have a name?
A: Yeah, but I don't want to name anybody else to know it.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: What did you learn playing under (Jacksonville head coach) Doug Pederson?
A: Doug is great. Great person. He's a great football coach. He sees the game through the quarterback's eyes being an ex-quarterback, so that was always great. His meetings were very detailed. I loved playing for Doug.
Q: What was it like having (wide receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) back out on the field this week?
A: Yeah, Wan'Dale did a nice job. It's good to see him. Obviously, bounced around, having some fun. You see it in practice, too. He did a nice job.
Q: What does that do to (wide receiver) Richie James and the playing time there? I know you said guys like to go inside. Those guys are primary slot guys.
A: Yeah, every week at practice we will evaluate and try to put those guys in the best spots to be successful. We'll work through that throughout the gameplan in really all the areas. Situationally, first and second down and then mix them in and mix and match with all the other personnel groupings that we have. It's still developing, we still got a few days here to tighten up the gameplan, but we're working through that.
Q: (Tight end Daniel) Bellinger blocked a lot more than he caught the ball in college. When did you realize he can be more than just a guy who was a blocker and you could go to him?
A: I think you saw a little bit of that on tape, you saw a little bit in the workouts and then our scouting department and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) did a great job of finding him and targeting him. We're glad we have him, we can develop him and you can see how he's getting better each and every day.
Q: Is he a better athlete than you thought?
A: You saw the athleticism on tape and at his pro day. That wasn't surprising that he put it on the field and kind of integrate into the offense and just see how well of a fit he was.
Q: Is it a little bit easier to maybe see when you draft a tight end that you can sometimes draft a guy that has the receiving skills and you have to teach him to block or the reverse where you got a kid who knew how to block in college and you got to teach him how to catch? Is there an easier route to go? Is it generally a little bit easier to learn how to run the routes and be a weapon in the passing game?
A: I don't know if I would say that. I think (tight ends) coach (Andy) Bischoff does a great job with all the tight ends in developing them and trying to figure out their strengths, figure out their weaknesses. Whatever those strengths are, build on that. With the weaknesses that show up, continue to work through those and put them in a good spot so that those weaknesses aren't shown as much. Coach Bischoff is a great guy, he spends a ton of time with those guys and the players buy into it. That's why we're here, to help our guys get better in any way we can.
Q: All offenses obviously evolve over time. How cumulative is your offense to build from one week to the next? Even one year to the next as we move forward?
A: There's a lot of carry over in the week to week. You only play 60-70 snaps a game, so a lot of those plays that you rep in practice maybe you don't run it, you don't call it and you get another rep of it the next week. You can kind of bank some of those plays over the first few weeks of the season and carry over and if it fits, then we use it. If it doesn't fit, then maybe we put it on the shelf for a week or two and then bring it back when we feel like it's a good fit for the team we're playing.
Q: How much in these six weeks has it kind of altered? You came in in April thinking we're going to run this and now you're in October and you're running a different thing. How much does that happen?
A: I think the first three weeks of the season was a lot of good carry over. As you kind of go through those first few weeks, you run a pretty high percentage of them. In Weeks 2 and Weeks 3, you're replacing the ones you used with new ones or new thoughts and it's an evolving process that way where maybe it's a new action pass or a new movement or screen or something like that. Maybe you call one of them one week and you look for the next complement the next week.
Q: Where did you learn the concept of marrying concepts together in your offense so that you can get to certain plays the way you do?
A: I'd say when I was with (Kansas City head) coach (Andy) Reid, when I started coaching with coach Reid and he was big on that. Showing certain looks, showing formations, certain plays, then complementing those looks off of the action of a personnel grouping. That was important to learn that and I think that's probably where it started for me is how do you build that? How do you build off of those plays or things that you've shown in weeks before to then bring up in a game that the defense is kind of anticipating.
Q: When it comes to trick plays or some of those unorthodox plays you guys you guys have run – do you come in saying, "When we get in this situation we are going to run it," or as the games going, you say this is the time to do it?
A: I think it's a little bit of both. I think there's some of those types of plays that are built for a certain situation – short yardage, goal line – or it just kind of comes up in the flow of the game or maybe earlier in the game there's a couple looks where you go, "Oh look at that, this one is available now," and maybe it was the look that we were looking for. There's a little bit of just kind of getting the feel for the game but then also you absolutely have some up that are just situational calls that you saw on tape that you can use.
Q: When you are practicing those kinds of plays, do you find it gets the players attention more easily because it's not the norm?
A: Sure. It's fun when you present them and put them on the big screen and show them the tape, show them the looks. You can definitely get guys excited.
Q: How much of it is you inventing stuff and how much of it is – I saw this at Northwestern, I saw this at Kansas City – and you have a notebook full of them?
A: I think that's the beauty of our staff is that it's a melting pot staff from a bunch of different teams and have a ton of experience. The collaboration part of that is – you might see a look, present it to the staff and someone might already have experience in that and kind of know maybe the bones are buried on the play, whether good or bad. Then, you can prepare, show, add something from someone else. That's been the best part about this staff is these guys are super creative and they're really collaborative as far as the knowledge and breadth of football they know.
Q: (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) checked down to an Andy Reid play last week. What made you?
A: Which play are you talking about?
Q: It was in the third quarter. I heard him say, "Andy Reid, Andy Reid." What made you put that in? Is that your tribute to him that you put that in?
A: No, we've talked about it as a staff. We have a bunch of names for our plays at the line of scrimmage, in the huddle. We try to make some word association things with it. That was one that us and the staff thought was appropriate for that play.
Q: With a young pass rusher like (Jacksonville outside linebacker) Travon Walker, is it simply just saying we are going to go with our best tackles going up one-on-one or do you really emphasize trying to chip him off the line of scrimmage? Is that something that you guys are thinking about this week?
A: Yeah, that's a part of every week. If you look across the league, there are good players on that side of the football every single week. This week, it's no different. Those guys are very, very talented pass rushers. They get off the edge, so you have to know where they're at on every single play.
Q: You guys signed (wide receiver) Marcus Johnson to the 53 this week. What kind of find has he been for you guys? He's played 40-plus snaps the last two games.
A: He's done a great job. He came in on the practice squad and did a great job on the look teams. (Wide receivers) Coach (Mike) Groh was meeting with him extra, kind of getting him ready and up to speed with the offense. There was an opportunity for him to step up - he has some speed, really good ball skills, he's physical, he's a big guy and he's smart. We thought that was a good decision and he's done a great job with his opportunity.
Q: We've seen less of the, the last couple of weeks probably, designed runs with Daniel (Jones). How much of that would you say is just the scheme and gameplan and how much of that was because you're trying to get him healthier to get him off the ankle, knee whatever?
A: I think it's a little bit of both. I think you want to be careful just to make sure he's right. I think that element of his game is something that makes him special, his ability to get out and that certainly causes issues for defenses. You see guys – they're aware of him. I think he's doing a good job of making those decisions – getting up, getting down, getting what he can. He's making smart decisions in that aspect in the run game, and I think he's an element that you don't want to take it away fully but just be smart and calculated with him.
Q: It seems like you're waiting for specific spots, bigger spots. You're not using him in the first quarter or random first or second downs near midfield. It seems like you're saving him. Is that something you think about, that you factor into the equation as well?
A: Yeah, I think it fits into the flow of the game. I think when we're trying to design the openers, you think about what has the defense presented, what have we presented in the past. You're trying to build all of that together. Sometimes you get to them and sometimes you don't, but they're at the front of my mind.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
McGaughey: Good afternoon, good people. How are you guys going? Fire away.
Q: What went right on the (running back Gary) Brightwell return?
A: The blocks. We had some good blocks at the point of attack. Gary did a good job of just hitting it, getting vertical. It's just something we've been working on. It's kind of starting to move forward. So, we just got to make sure we keep working the fundamentals and the techniques. I talk to the guys all the time. When you execute the fundamentals and the techniques, the big plays will come. We just got to make sure we keep executing.
Q: (Tight end Daniel) Bellinger isn't usually in that spot. Does he earn himself a spot there having that block on that return?
A: Those guys are always rolling back there. It's just situational. Obviously, he stepped in when (tight end) Tanner (Hudson) got hurt or was out. But no, he did a good job. Belly (Daniel Bellinger) is doing a good job. He's working hard, and it's showing up in all facets of his game.
Q: Is it hard in this era with such a high percentage of touchbacks for players? Do you have to remind players to stay mentally into it? In that game, you got five touchbacks and a 47-yard return.
A: That's just part of the game now. That's what it is. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. The game is the game, and the guys have to stay locked in because you just never know when somebody might kick it short. They kind of lull you to sleep, and all of a sudden, the ball is at the 15-yard line. So, you always got to be locked in and ready.
Q: (Outside linebacker) Oshane (Ximines) – I think it was Oshane – about one of the things on the checklist every week is 'winning special teams.' How many weeks do you feel like you've won of these first six?
A: It's kind of been 50/50 maybe, if not in a lower percentage. We haven't played great, in my opinion, but the guys are getting better. And that's our whole mantra in our room, is that we're cognizant of something that we live by in our room, and it's the act of continuous improvement. It's not getting too high. It's not getting too low. It's figuring out what you need to do that day to get better, and individually, they have to get better. And as a group, we have to get better. So, we're going in the right direction. To answer your question, I feel like we're going in the right direction.
Q: Are you a tough grader?
A: Yeah. I think I am. We do have a standard here. We've played pretty well on special teams the last four or five years here. So, I think the players understand the standard. They know what it is, and we know that we weren't playing up to the standard. We just go to keep getting better.
Q: That play where (wide receiver) Richie (James) kind of chipped the gunner to let the ball go into the endzone, is that something you coach, or is that him doing that?
A: We coach it. It's situational. You got to be smart. Every week, we go through a reel of situations that happen throughout the league, and we always talk to our guys about borrowing knowledge and buying knowledge; those are two types of knowledge that you buy – borrow and buy in this game. So, we watch those clips, and sometimes we borrow it from other people. And sometimes we buy it. But Richie does a really good job. He understands that that job and what it entails. You've just got to be smart in how you go about it because if you lead with a forearm or you hit a guy in the head, it could be an unnecessary roughness penalty. So, you've just got to be smart.
Q: What do you see from (cornerback) Nick McCloud? It seems like he's really making an impact when he's in there.
A: Nick's done a great job. He's been a really pleasant surprise. He's stepped right in. And this kid is all business all the time. He is always locked in. He's always focused, and he's a young pro. He's a young pro's pro. I can't wait to see him keep going and growing as a player.
Q: This might be a dumb question, but you had three fair catches on four punts. Is that the goal on every punt? Just to have a fair catch? Or is there any times you actually want them to return it?
A: Situationally, sometimes, you might want them to return if you're trying to take some time off the clock late in the game or something like that. The plan is not to give up any return yards, and we all know who (Ravens wide receiver) Devin Duvernay is. He's outstanding. So, the goal was to make sure that he did not return the ball. And I think he had like 12 yards or whatever the whole day. That was the goal: to not have him return the ball.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: How much do you have to manage with your shoulder?
A: It's annoying, but it's not something that's going to stop me from going out there and being able to produce. Just like anything throughout the season, it's every year – it's football, something is going to happen. Just got to stay with it. The trainers have been doing a really good job of setting up a program for me and also getting in the strength room, setting up a great program too. Just stick with it.
Q: It looked like it was bothering you a little more towards the end of the game last week. It looked like you were favoring it a little bit towards the end. Was that the case and if so, was it just a cue of the game?
A: No – landed on it pretty good and woke it up again, I guess you could say. It's really nothing that serious thankfully. Like I said, I've just got to keep trusting it, keep working.
Q: Is it a pain tolerance thing for you at this point? Is it something you can't hurt any worse? Like it's just a lot of pain to deal with?
A: Yeah, I guess. It's really, I wouldn't call it – it's not that crazy, you know? In my opinion. Like I said, something landed on it, woke it up for a little bit, but was able to finish the game.
Q: Is it something you have to have work on during the week a lot or is it just like, hey just give it time and don't land on it?
A: It just sucks that I play running back in the National Football League (laughs) and kind of every time I touch the ball I'm getting hit in my shoulder. Like I said, it's really nothing that I'm really concerned about. Do I get worked on? Yeah, not just only that, but all of my body. I'm big on rehab and big on trying to get my body right not just for the game but throughout this whole season and that's what I'm going to continue.
Q: The stat of the day is you're the only player in the NFL with 85 yards from scrimmage every game this season. That speaks to consistency so I'm assuming that's a stat you probably like?
A: Yeah, not just because I'm the only player but what you said – just being consistent. That's something that, kind of the word of the week for the team is just continue to be consistent, block out the noise, come in and work every single day, fall in love with the process and if you keep doing that, the consistency is going to continue to improve. That's the only thing I'm trying to do.
Q: It's a short group of people who have led their team in receiving yards and rushing yards. With the state of your receiving core, obviously there is a chance you are going to do that. What would that mean to you?
A: Like I've said multiple times, whatever I need to do to help the team win games I'm willing to do. I really don't get too caught up into the numbers. I know numbers are important, don't get me wrong. People fall in love with it, but I know I sound like a broken record, I just want to win football games. That's really it.
Q: How about the creativity this offense has shown? I think (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka said today when he calls one of those in practice, guys are a little more extra attention, guys seem to enjoy it a little more.
A: Yeah, it definitely puts a smile on your face. It's been like this since OTAs. Since we first got together we were doing creative stuff. We knew what they were going to bring to the table throughout the season and they're doing a really good job. But at the end of the day as players, our responsibility is to go out there and execute and make the play work.
Q: You're a veteran on this team. When you see a player like (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) – you've been through the whole injury thing – what's your advice to a player like that at this point? When his body keeps letting him down.
A: Just got to keep going. Got to keep going. It's going to be tough; I know. For me, I had that. I had to deal with the adversity, and the sad thing is it's not the last adversity for any of us – knowing myself, KT, even you guys are going to deal with stuff that's going to go on in your life. You've just got to keep going, keep trusting it and all the work that you're putting in to get back, when you do come back it's going to pay off.
Q: Back to the creativity, can you tell defenses when you guys are putting in motion, can you hear across the line of scrimmage some confusion that you guys are creating?
A: Yeah, the one play we had where (Quarterback Daniel Jones) DJ kind of threw it, I forgot who it was but one of the Ravens defenders, he thought I had the ball. I was just like I must have done my job kind of right. I really wasn't trying to sell the fake; I was the one who pitched it. It keeps them on their heels. It's something that you can use to your advantage. I feel like we are going to continue to do that and like I said, it's up to us as players. They can get as creative as they want but we've got to go out there and make it work.
Q: I know I've asked you this before but – again this week, you guys are underdogs. Does that catch anyone's attention? How much does that catch your guys' attention in the locker room? You're 5-1, they're 2-4. You guys are still underdogs.
A: Can't really get too caught up in that. When you really go into the question – does it catch our attention? We're not blind to it. Obviously we see it, we see people talking about it and we get asked about it. This is the locker room right now and we're just having fun. We're just growing as a group every single day, every single week. Just trusting each other, playing the game that we love, having fun. Whether we're the underdog or the favorite – we come in with the same mindset of just coming in, falling in love with the process, trusting each other and we know if we can do that, it's going to put us in the best position on Sunday to win games. That's something we can focus on.
Q: What do you think you have to do to make the world realize you guys are for real?
A: It doesn't really matter to me. At the end of the day, we're winning games. We're 5-1 and we're just going to continue to fall in love with the process. Everyone else can say whatever they want to say, how they feel about us, but we know what we've got in this locker room, we know what we've got in this facility and we're just going to keep believing in each other.
Q: Do you see the results of in-game adjustments from your offensive coaching staff?
A: Yeah, I think they do a really good job of that. I mean, I think that kind of speaks to the numbers of us being a really well-rounded offense in the second half. I don't know the exact numbers, but I know we're doing pretty good in the second half. Whether we're scoring points and it comes to – first, it starts with the players. When we come into the locker room and the game's not going how we want it to go, not panicking, continue to trust the system, continue to trust the process and then the coaches go in there, talk it out and figure out how to come out with a gameplan and what we are going to do, and how we are going to attack them. The coaches trust in us to go out there and make the plays and execute it. That's what's happening. The adjustments are working. Obviously, we would like to start a little faster and that's something that we hope to start this coming week.