Giants Coach’s Raiders Connection ‘Something to Keep in Mind’ After Josh McDaniels Fired

Brian Daboll

Getty Brian Daboll and the New York Giants could lose a key assistant to a former team needing a new head coach.

Antonio Pierce won’t be the only coach connected to both the New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders when the two teams meet at Allegiant Stadium in Week 9. Giants’ defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale is a name “to keep in mind” for the Raiders’ vacant head-coaching job after Josh McDaniels was fired on Wednesday, November 1.

The Giants’ play-caller served as linebackers coach for the Raiders from 2004-08, and “if there’s one owner who could hire Wink Martindale as HC, it’s probably Mark Davis,” per Dan Duggan of The Athletic.

As Duggan pointed out, Martindale enjoyed working for the late Al Davis, father of current Raiders owner Mark Davis. It means the Raiders have reason to like the idea of giving Martindale his first shot as head coach in the NFL after this season.

The Silver and Black’s inside knowledge of the way Martindale works isn’t the only factor to consider. There’s also the impressive strides made by the Giants’ defense in recent weeks.

Martindale is still calling a sophisticated package of pressure schemes that are helping key players become stars.

‘Wink’ Martindale’s Stock Rising Amid Defensive Turnaround

A few weeks ago there wouldn’t have been many takers for Martindale’s services as a head coach. Not when the Giants were routinely being pushed all over the field defensively.

Martindale’s unit allowed 379 yards against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, followed by giving up 441 to the San Francisco 49ers a week later. Two games later, the Miami Dolphins burned Big Blue for 524 yards.

Things have been different since, with former Giants Super Bowl-winning placekicker Lawrence Tynes citing numbers that are “ELITE the last 3 weeks.”

Martindale’s group has faced some downright awful offenses, but an upward trajectory is clear. So is how the coordinator is helping key players dominate.

Key players like second-year edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. The player selected fifth overall in the 2022 NFL draft is finally getting to quarterbacks consistently, logging 8.5 sacks since Week 2.

Thibodeaux is playing at a high level, but nose tackle Dexter Lawrence is maintaining the awesome standards he set on Martindale’s watch last season. Lawrence was a constant disruption against the New York Jets in Week 8, as numbers from Pro Football Focus show.

Lawrence didn’t just win over center. As Next Gen Stats detailed, he “created at least 1 pressures against 5 different Jets linemen.”

No. 97 winning from multiple spots is proof of how creative Martindale is being expanding the role for his best player. Maximizing talent separates good coaches from average ones, so Martindale is boosting his chances of getting noticed in next year’s hiring cycle.

Ironically, a former Giants defensive mainstay could hamper Martindale’s chances of a reunion with the Raiders.

Josh McDaniels’ Replacement Familiar to Giants

The Raiders confirmed McDaniels being let go, along with general manager David Ziegler, in a statement on X.

Former New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator McDaniels was soon replaced by Pierce, somebody well-known to the Giants. He was the on-field signal-caller as starting middle linebacker for the 2007 defense that harassed and flummoxed Tom Brady and the 18-0 Pats in the Super Bowl.

Pierce led by example for a D’ that stymied a record-setting offense called by McDaniels. Another member of the defense, edge-rusher Osi Umenyiora, told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News how Pierce “is a leader of men. It’s natural to him.”

Pierce’s first chance to test those leadership skills as a head coach should give the Giants the edge in a must-win game. So should the Raiders opting to bench quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for rookie Aidan O’Connell, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

There’ll be a lot of inexperience on the field for the Raiders on Sunday, November 5. A lot of inexperience trying to decipher Martindale’s complex blitz schemes.

If the Giants’ defense continues to dominate, Thibodeaux, Lawrence and Co. could inadvertently start the process of Martindale moving on in a few months.