Wink Martindale-Brian Daboll feud, explained: Why Giants DC reportedly cursed out New York head coach

The 2023 season for the Giants was an ugly one.

After making a run to the NFC divisional round last year, the Daniel Jones’ magic did not translate into this year. The quarterback regressed before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. The duo of Tyrod Taylor and Tommy DeVito was not enough to turn the Giants around, as the club finished 6-11, third in the NFC East. 

The bad vibes have continued into the offseason, as there is major drama on the coaching staff. 

Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale and head coach Brian Daboll are in the midst of an intense feud. Martindale is reportedly not happy with some of the changes Daboll is making to the staff, leaving Martindale’s future with the team up in the air. 

The Giants’ defense under Martindale was inconsistent at times, but it was far and away the best unit on the club. The defensive group finished 27th in the league in overall defense, but was tied for first in the NFL in turnovers created, and was the main reason why the Giants were able to pick up six wins. 

Martindale’s role has not changed as of Wednesday morning. However, there is a very good chance he has coached his last game in the Big Apple. 

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Here is more on the Martindale-Daboll feud and what’s next for the Giants:

Wink Martindale-Brian Daboll feud, explained

The bad blood between Martindale and Daboll has been boiling for a bit. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported in late November that the two were butting heads, with a growing tension between the pair sensed throughout the organization. 

“These guys are in a bad place,” Glazer said. “Bad place to the point where I don’t see them actually continuing their relationship after the season, maybe not even during the season. It could be a mutual parting of the ways.”

That tension seemed to reach its breaking point this week. According to The New York Post’s Paul Schwartz, Martindale and Daboll met on Monday to discuss impending changes to the coaching staff.

Daboll informed his defensive coordinator that he was going to fire outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins and his younger brother, Kevin Wilkins, a defensive assistant. The Wilkins brothers are close with Martindale, as he was the one to bring them to New York from Baltimore. 

That news reportedly did not settle well with Martindale, especially Drew, who is considered to be Martindale’s right-hand man. According to Schwartz, he “cursed out Daboll, said his piece, got up, slammed the door and walked out of the building.

The Giants have not heard from Martindale since.

The Post reported Daboll was set on getting rid of Drew Wilkins and his brother because there “was a feeling in the building that Martindale and Drew Wilkins were creating their own fiefdom within the coaching staff, at times bypassing Daboll and believing they had to answer only to each other and, ultimately, ownership.”

Martindale has since left for his home in Sarasota, Fla., as he was spotted at Newark Airport boarding a United flight bound for the southern destination. 

Daboll had said earlier in the day on Monday that the “expectation” was for Martindale to be back in his role for 2024.

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Is Wink Martindale fired?

As of Wednesday morning, Martindale remains the defensive coordinator of the Giants. However, it does not look likely he will stay in his role.  

According to the New York Post, the Giants have not heard any word from Martindale about a potential resignation, despite reports earlier in the day that he had resigned. Despite not making an official resignation, Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano reported that Martindale “is not staying — it’s over.”

Martindale is under contract for the 2024 reason. He is owed $3 million on the deal, but he forfeits that money if he resigns from his position. In addition, a resignation from Martindale could allow the Giants to prevent him from accepting a coordinator job with a different NFL team. 

NFL Network’s Mike Garofalo reported on Wednesday that the Giants are not searching for a new defensive coordinator and that the team wants Martindale back as the DC, unless he resigns from the role. 

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