EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey. While all eyes were on the New York Giants defense when they stopped Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the final minutes in London on Sunday, Carter Coughlin kept his eyes on his coach. He wanted to see how defensive coordinator Wink Martindale handled the situation.

Rodgers led the Packers to the Giants’ 6-yard line. It was third and 1 with 1:11 left, the Giants were leading with seven. The game was on the line.

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Martindale, arguably New York’s biggest offseason addition when he didn’t have a lot of money under the salary cap, announced the game and stood stoically on the sidelines.

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The Giants’ freshman defensive coordinator called for a blitz, the pass was parried by Caivon Thibodeau and almost intercepted. He called another blitz on the fourth down, this time sending eight defenders after Rodgers. The pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage by a bouncing Xavier McKinney and the game nearly ended 27–22 over the Packers.

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The New York sideline bounced up and down. When the camera panned, Martindale was in the center, as if it were just another Sunday afternoon stroll.

“He’s confident as hell,” said Coughlin, a backup midfielder and special teams ace. “I watched him during the game. … I tried to pay attention, to see if he was tapping his hand, if he was nervous. Just as the game was about to happen, he calls. He just stood there as cool as a cucumber. He’s just sure. Confident in my team, confident in my call, in preparation and all of that.

That’s one reason new coach Brian Daball hired Martindale after former defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left for the Las Vegas Raiders in early February.

Martindale and the Baltimore Ravens decided to part ways earlier this year after 10 seasons together, the last four of which he spent as defensive coordinator. He managed the league’s best defense in 2018 and the top seven for the next two seasons before they fell last year in an avalanche of injuries.

“There was nothing wrong with it, it was just time,” Martindale said. “When I say it was just time, it was just time for both of us.”

Daball pounced happily.

“He’s smart and I just think he’s very prepared,” Daboll said. “And he is collected on the touchline. As a playcaller who has been doing this himself for some time, it’s not always the easiest thing to do when things aren’t going well.”

Martindale was an invaluable addition to the Giants 4-1. His defense hasn’t scored more than 23 points in any of his five games this season.

“Wink Has All the Loot”

A few weeks ago, Martindale was asked if Thibodeau, a rookie taken under the fifth pick this year, has a lot of swagger.

He replied, “Me too.”

Nobody blinked. His players agreed.

Swagger is a term you hear a lot about Martindale, and it’s not exactly what you’d expect from a 59-year-old round pot-bellied man who usually wears a shirt-sleeved hoodie over a tight white long-sleeved tank top and has a mullet poking out from the back. parts of his hat.

But this is a coach who once joined in the Baltimore interception celebration by pulling a gold chain from under his sweatshirt and usually wears a rare pair of Air Jordans. He estimates that he has between 50 and 75 pairs of Jordans.

“A lot. My wife calls me Imelda Marcos,” he said, referring to the Filipino politician known for his massive shoe collection. “I have quite a few. Maryland still has some.

Martindale insists that the Giants see his net if they complete two rotations in the game. Despite their success, they are the only team in the NFL not to have an interception this season.

“Vink got all the loot,” middle linebacker Tae Crowder said. “He doesn’t panic at all when we are on the pitch. This is a big sign that you are very confident in yourself. On the fourth down, he just sits like he knew what was about to happen. Like he knew we were going to play a play.

His players trust him. He trusts his players. This is an integral part of the love for Martindale.

Defenseman Bennett Jackson considers Martindale the best defensive coordinator he has had. Jackson spent eight years with the Giants, New York Jets, and Ravens. He played for Martindale in 2018 and 2019 in Baltimore.

“Wink rewards hard work. If you go out there and play, whether it’s practice or whatever, he will play you,” Jackson said. “… He doesn’t beat around the bush.”

Players appreciate that Martindale unabashedly remains himself. He’s going to let them know how he feels, good or bad, but he’s also going to accept their opinion.

“He’s a player coach,” said veteran linebacker Nick Williams. “He will always ask his players what they want to do, how we want to attack them. Then they go up to the office and make a plan that works best for us.”

Several veteran players noted that his meetings are not conducted in the same way as in many other teams. Instead of being more of a teacher and student, this is much more peer oriented. This is more talk than most.

“It’s not just him talking. Everyone’s talking,” said quarterback Adori Jackson, who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2017 and spent four seasons there before joining the Giants in 2021. [secondary coach Jerome Henderson] He hears something, he can say something out loud, or if we do presentations in the room about the people we played against, everyone will tweet.”

The results speak volumes

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Giants at the start of this season. The defense played without defenseman Leonard Williams for three games, with outside midfielders Aziz Ojulari and Thibodeau both missing a couple of games. Possibly the top three pass rushers in New York.

Williams (knee) is likely to return Sunday against Baltimore, while Augulari (shins) remains in doubt. Thibodeau will still be looking for his first sack in his fourth career game.

Martindale changed players in and out of the roster, but still provided great defense. The Giants entered the NFL this week ninth with 18.6 points per game.

At Martindale, they are sixth in third fall defense (31.15%) and seventh in the red zone (41.18%). He has an aggressive unit that is gaining 39% of the clip, which is the second highest in the NFL.

Martindale even took offense at the suggestion that he only shot 25% of defensive games in the first game against the Titans. It was perhaps even more lively than those two late games against the Packers.

“One thing I heard when I first got here was that coaches owe their composure to the players,” Williams said.

So far, he has given them this and more.