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Wink Martindale vs. Brian Daboll: Inside the Giants coaches’ mindsLess than twenty-four hours after the New York Giants concluded a dismal 6-11 season, the coach-defensive coordinator relationship between Brian Daboll and Wink Martindale came to an explosive conclusion on Monday.

The last hours of their partnership appeared to be dire for both parties, according to team sources who were allowed to remain anonymous by The Athletic despite being unable to publicly discuss the matter. These sources stated that Martindale had stormed out of the room after Daboll fired his two most trusted assistants, Kevin and Drew Wilkins. On Wednesday, the Giants declared that the parties had “mutually agreed to part ways.”The ugly divorce

The Giants’ worst moment during the Martindale incident remains a low point, even in a decade filled with dysfunction. An obvious question arises after such a messy breakup: How did a relationship that seemed so promising turn sour into such hostility?
After an unexpected departure from the Baltimore Ravens after ten years as an assistant—during which he oversaw a top-three scoring defense in three of his four seasons as defensive coordinator—Martindale became available for Daboll to hire in 2022. Martindale left Baltimore due to a contract impasse and a wish for a new beginning.


Despite similar wiring as hyper-competitive football lifers, Daboll and Martindale brought different temperaments to the sideline. And it didn’t take long for those differences to surface, with tension starting to build during their first training camp together.

“You could probably see it building a little bit,” a team source said. “Like the defense is getting installed and you might have 12 guys on the field and Dabes is losing it, and he’s calling out coaches, and he’s making it personal.”

Martindale presents a brash persona, cultivated with his standard attire — sunglasses, long-sleeve white compression shirt and basketball sneakers — that makes him look like a WWE rendition of a football coach. But he prides himself on his composure.

Though it’s not uncommon for NFL head coaches to lose their cool, multiple team sources said Daboll goes overboard, particularly during games.

“On game day, he’s a madman,” one team source said. “It’s just brutal.”

That shouldn’t come as a revelation to fans who have witnessed Daboll’s red-faced tirades directed at players for mistakes during games. And it has rankled assistants to have to endure Daboll’s rants while they’re trying to coach.

“It’s to the point where you’ve got to take your headsets off or take one ear off,” another team source said. “He’s just constantly screaming. It’s like, ‘Jeez, I can’t even think.’”

Martindale spent the previous decade working for Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who has a much calmer sideline demeanor. Martindale didn’t appreciate the change to Daboll’s style.

“Wink didn’t like that at all,” a team source said. “The stares and how he just kind of looks at you, Wink couldn’t stand it.”

Martindale’s philosophical differences were hiding in plain sight to outsiders as early as October 2022. His comments in a news conference now read like thinly veiled criticisms of Daboll’s sideline outbursts.

“What I tell the players all the time is, ‘What I owe you during the game is my composure,’” Martindale said. “There’s some people telling me I need to be more animated on the sidelines. You’re not going to be animated if you’re thinking about the next play, what you’re going to call next.”

Martindale was more overt about his displeasure with Daboll’s eruptions behind the scenes.

“Wink would just walk in (to a coaches’ meeting) and say something like, ‘When such and such did this, I stayed calm. I just went onto the next play,’” a team source said. “He’d throw stuff out there and see if he could get (Daboll) riled up. Dabes knows it. Dabes isn’t stupid. It would just float on by in the meeting, and nobody would say anything.”

As evidenced by his explosive departure, Martindale isn’t the type to quietly endure something he doesn’t like. So there were the snide comments in meetings and the public allusions to his preferred coaching style.

“His personality kind of fits his style of defense — blitz zero, man coverage,” a team source said. “He’s not a loose cannon. He’s very calculated. But he just doesn’t give a s—.”


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