Wink Martindale quoting Ted Lasso?
The Giants’ recently turned 60-year-old defensive coordinator has something in common with several characters on the recently completed Apple TV+ gem of a series.
Martindale is quick with a quote, a la Ted himself, he is a mastermind with tactics (Nate) and, like Coach Beard, can be intense and unusual at the same time.
It would be a trip to hear Martindale’s takeaways on the exploits and hijinx of AFC Richmond.
We already know he likes what he sees so far in Deonte Banks, as Martindale used a classic Ted Lasso-ism to describe the rookie cornerback’s demeanor.
“Well, I think it’s important to have a cornerback like that in anybody’s defense,’’ Martindale said Thursday, before the Giants’ scheduled organized team activity practice was canceled because of the poor air quality inside the team’s field house. “He’s very instinctive. What’s Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He’s got a short memory when things don’t go right.
“He’s tough-minded, he’s physical, he can tackle and on top of that, he can run. So, we’re excited about it. He’s getting into the groove. There’re still some rookie mistakes, which you expect, especially this early, but we’re really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket.’’
How excited was Martindale the night of April 27, when the Giants traded up one spot, from No. 25 to 24, in the first round?
Martindale knew general manager Joe Schoen was eyeing wide receivers and cornerbacks, and those positions were coming off the board, leaving Banks as the only corner the Giants coveted still available.
Immediately after the Giants made the pick, taking Banks out of Maryland, Martindale embraced Schoen with a bear hug and pounded him so aggressively that Schoen might still have marks on his back.
“I hope so,’’ Martindale said.
The plan is for Banks to move into an immediate starting role opposite veteran corner Adoree’ Jackson.
Banks, at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, has ideal size and speed, and his addition should fill what was a glaring need, as far as fortifying the coverage on the back end.
Banks could also help enliven the Giants’ pass rush if his ability to blanket targets forces opposing quarterbacks to hold onto the ball a split-second longer.
Martindale’s first season with the Giants produced 41 sacks, which ranked 13th in the league — the Eagles were the runaway leaders with 70 — and that output was below the standard Martindale set when he was running the Ravens’ defense.
Martindale’s reputation for blitz-heavy pressure is no secret and he cited Pro Football Focus analytics that listed the Giants’ defense as facing more max-protection from offensive blocking schemes in 2022 than any other team.
“I think that you have to look at the whole picture,’’ Martindale said. “Quarterbacks get rid of the ball against us faster than most teams they play.
“Because we know how to hit the quarterback. They know it. It’s not like I’m being boastful either, they just know that we know how to defeat protections. If you ask any offensive coach in the league, they’ll tell you that.’’
Banks will encounter a learning curve, but the belief is he can get on the field and make a go of it from the start.
There is this caveat: Rookie cornerbacks often take time to gain their footing in the NFL.
It is rare that a highly touted prospect arrives with such fanfare and makes good on all the hubbub, as Sauce Gardner did with the Jets to earn Defensive Rookie of the Year recognition last year.
“The expectation is that he plays football,’’ Martindale said of Banks. “I brought up the Ted Lasso quote, that’s the way he is. He’s a smart kid that is grounded and he doesn’t make it bigger than what it is. I’m sure that they’re going to catch an 8-yard out on him and everybody’s going to be up in arms, but that happens to every corner. We’ll be OK. I think the expectation is to go in there and play and play well.’’
Indeed, Ted Lasso in Season 1, episode 2 unveiled the “goldfish’’ reference after Sam Obisanya messes up in practice.
“You know who the happiest animal in the world is? A goldfish,’’ Ted says. “Why? It’s got a 10-second memory.’’
If Banks can follow suit, the Giants might be onto something.