‘Exotic’ Giants Defense Stifles Joe Flacco, Jets in Joint Practice

Don Wink Martindale

Getty Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Joe Flacco had seen this before and yet was still overmatched.

New York Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale had a familiar foe in Flacco, the New York Jets quarterback, during joint practices between the two Garden State neighbors on August 25. And throughout Thursday’s practice, the crafty defensive coordinator sent pressure from all angles against an overmatched Jets offense.

“They have an exotic pressure system,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said after practice. “So, it was good for us to get a look at them.”

During one full-team series, Martindale sent the house on a play that Flacco barely got rid of the football before being sacked, only to have it bounce off his receiver’s hands and nearly intercepted.

Then, a few plays later, with Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari screaming off the edge, Flacco tossed a ball into the flat that was intended for no one in particular and ultimately bounced out of bounds.

“He has a lot of looks,” Saleh explained. “He does as good a job of anybody with a bank of pressures that stress you, from a protection standpoint.”

‘Wink Is Crazy’

Martindale certainly dialed up the pressure on Flacco and the rest of the Jets quarterbacks. On a blitz midway through practice, Jets quarterback Mike White forced the ball into coverage that was intercepted by Giants defensive back Olaijah Griffin.

Advantage Martindale. Advantage Giants.

In a lot of ways, Martindale’s hyper-aggressive scheme is a linebacker’s best friend. And it showed during the August 25 practice.

“Wink is crazy,” Giants linebacker Cam Brown told Heavy. “Just as crazy as his defense looks, that’s how he is.”

The mad scientist, despite neither team game-planning specifically for this practice, seemed to have something special up his sleeve for Flacco, his former counterpart from the pair’s time in Baltimore together from 2012 through 2018.

“I saw a lot of that for 11 years, some form of that kind of stuff,” Flacco said of Martindale’s scheme. “It’s good, because it puts you in a different mindset. Today, [Giants] like to walk up pre-snap a lot and walk around a lot, you have to identify everybody, and if they get you to slow down a little bit, start thinking and not playing football, they have a little victory right there.”

Giants vs. Jets Joint Practice TakeawaysHeavy.com NFL Insider Matt Lombardo recaps the New York Jets' joint practice with the New York Giants on Aug. 25, 2022 in East Rutherford, NJ. Don "Wink" Martindale's #Giants brought the heat against Joe Flacco and the #Jets' offense, but both teams flashed as the 2022 #NFL season nears. Subscribe for more instant NFL analysis:…2022-08-26T00:14:08Z

Flacco, Saleh, and several Jets offensive players echoed the sentiment that going up against a scheme so vastly different from the Jets’ reliance on front-four pressure has tremendous benefits for the offense.

Can Martindale’s Presence Lead to Improved Results?

The Giants are hoping that Martindale’s scheme, paired with a front-seven that includes disruptive playmakers in edge Leonard Williams, defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Blake Martinez will lead to dramatically improved results this season.

“He wants you to play aggressive,” Brown said. “He wants you to play fast. He doesn’t want you to know his best move, and the best part for a linebacker is that you’re blitzing all the time. There’s always a variety in the pressures, and they never know when you’re coming, because we can always drop in coverage, too, out of all this.”

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