Giants safety Xavier McKinney commanded attention this summer when defensive coordinator Wink Martindale named McKinney the primary defensive signal-caller. As a defensive back, McKinney was a seemingly unusual green dot recipient. Now entering Week 7, the Giants tout a 5-1 record; Xavier McKinney recently joined the Giants Huddle podcast to detail his experience as a leader in Martindale's unit and the elements that led to a fast start.
McKinney first shared that the team's culture is a pillar of its success this season. The secret to winning close games, he revealed, is that "everybody likes each other. When you've got a team of guys that are all selfless, it creates a sense of a team. It builds a great team, and I think we have that with a lot of our guys." Each win adds momentum and boosts the team's confidence.
Given his role, McKinney works especially close with Martindale. Though Martindale's blitz-heavy scheme is perceived as "aggressive,' McKinney said the coordinator values player input. "To be a great leader, you have to be willing to grow and listen to the people around you," the defensive captain told. McKinney added, "He's not one sided; he's always going to do what's best for our defense and what's going to put us in the best situation."
As for the green dot, McKinney says he's had fun with the esteemed responsibility. His rapport with fellow safety Julian Love is helpful as he learns to balance his energy between signal calling and actually executing those plays. "Somehow, we don't even need to talk to each other out on the field. We just know what each other is going to do," McKinney acknowledged about his fellow veteran safety. At the end of the day, McKinney's dedication the team is undeniable: "I love these guys, and I hope I can continue to be able to lead them and keep doing what I'm doing," he said.
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