New York Giants offensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale couldn’t believe what safety Xavier McKinney had to say after their loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon.
“You read it and you go, ‘What?! S***, what is he talking about?’” Martindale said Thursday, via ESPN.
Though he didn’t name any of them specifically, McKinney blasted the Giants’ coaching staff after their 30-6 loss to the Raiders. It marked their sixth loss in seven games, and the fifth game this season in which they’ve given up at least 30 points.
McKinney, who is one of the defensive captains for the Giants, said that he and the team’s leaders are “not really being heard” by the coaching staff.
“I think that from a leadership standpoint, I don’t think they’ve done a great job of letting the leaders lead and listening to the leaders and the captains,” he said after the game.
“It was the little things. It was one of those things where you have some of your leaders, captains from a defensive standpoint, trying to switch things up. And just not really being heard. I don’t know. There are other things too that we could have done … But when you got guys out there that are playing and seeing different things and are being vocal and communicating that with the coaches and whoever and are not being heard, it’s hard to go out there and be able to make plays and do things of that nature.”
Martindale is in his second season as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, though he’s been a defensive assistant coach in some capacity in the league for just shy of two decades now.
Though the comments caught him off guard, and he admitted that the comments hurt, Martindale said he and McKinney have since cleared the air and they are all good. He simply chalked it up to frustration.
"Yeah, it surprised me because it's the first time it's ever happened in my career that a player would make a statement like that," he said, via ESPN. "I think it was a case of the kid is just frustrated from losing. We spoke. We cleared it up. The example that he gave me of what he was talking about was an in-game adjustment.
"It really took a while for him to point out exactly what it was. But I think you grow from that, and I just told him that is something that it hurts the locker room. It hurts the defensive room when you say something like that."
McKinney has 53 total tackles so far this season, his fourth with the Giants. The 24-year-old, who the Giants took in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Alabama, is in the final year of his initial four-year, $8.4 million deal.
McKinney will not face any internal discipline for his comments, coach Brian Daboll said this week, and Martindale will continue in his normal role for the team’s game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
While they seem to have fixed things in the locker room, the Giants have a long way to go to fix their on-field issues. The team is just 2-7 this season, which is one of the worst records in the league, and the Giants are down to third string quarterback Tommy DiVito after Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor both landed on injured reserve. Their only wins this season came on a last-second field goal against the also struggling Arizona Cardinals and a narrow win over the Washington Commanders.
The Giants are listed as 17-point underdogs for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys at BetMGM, which is the largest spread of the week, so it’s not going to get any easier for Martindale and the Giants.
But hey, at least they’re all on the same page again. That’s the first step for turning a season around.