Wink Martindale still awaiting a head-coaching shot

I asked Martindale — in his 18th season as an assistant and first as Giants head coach Brian Daboll’s trusted, treasured defensive coordinator, with 36 years a coach dating back to his alma mater, Defiance College, and always the bridesmaid, never the bride — how long has he felt he has been qualified to be a head coach.

He thought about it for a short while and said: “Probably eight years.” The last eight years.”

A look at NFL head-coach hirings since 2014 (some of whom didn’t last a full season) punctuates how clueless some owners have been:

Adam Gase, Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly, Mike Pettine, Ken Whisenhunt, Jim Caldwell, Bill O’Brien, Lovie Smith, Gary Kubiak, John Fox, Jack Del Rio, Todd Bowles, Hue Jackson, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge , Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan, Dan Quinn, Mike Mularkey, Doug Pederson, Vance Joseph, Anthony Lynn, Jay Gruden, Jon Gruden, Matt Patricia, Steve Wilks, Matt Nagy, Freddie Kitchens, Brian Flores, Vic Fangio, Urban Meyer, David Culley, Mike Zimmer, Matt Rhule, Frank Reich.

Martindale takes the high road anyway:

New York Giants Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale when the New York Giants practiced
Wink Martindale is still waiting for his shot at an NFL head-coaching gig.
Robert Sabo

“I don’t know anything about that [Colts] situation. … We’re worried about the Texans, and like I said before, wherever you’re at is where you’re supposed to be. It really doesn’t matter what I think about it, because it’s that organization and that owner and probably his relationship with Jeff. So, they can do whatever they want to do.”

“I think he should be a head coach because he brings the culture in and also he’s very honest with the players and stuff like that. He has a gift to bring everyone together, and that’s rare. That stuff’s just gotta come in,” defensive end Jihad Ward told The Post.

“We think he’s a head coach in our eyes, not just the defense, but the offense as well.”

Martindale has a swag that fits a man and a coach comfortable in his skin.

“He stays composed. He’s a guy who doesn’t get flustered or frustrated often,” safety Julian Love said. “He’s a guy who knows kinda how he wants things to operate, and expects that and demands that. He’s able to have a relationship with players that’s I think different than a lot of coaches I’ve ever had.

“It’s transparent. Huh cares about you as a person. He talks to you like you’re a person, not just an object, not just a football player. He cares about other people’s interests, what they have going on in their lives. He gets it. He’s a coach who gets it. You can’t say that about a lot of guys out there.”

Inside the meeting room, Martindale allows his players the freedom to talk about more than just football.

“It’s a safe place,” Ward said, “and we keep stuff real there and we talk about life in general. Anybody that’s got problems about life or what’s going on, we’re not afraid to speak up. Anything that’s going on at home on the field and off the field or playbooks, we just talk about it, so we don’t have to worry about it when we get on the field. We just talk about a lot of s–t, like crazy things, but it’s a safe place, so that’s on the hush.”

They wear tackle Dexter Lawrence has enjoyed a breakout season under Martindale.

“I think he’s a great leader,” Lawrence said. “I think he knows how to get guys to play for him and for each other.”

New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale on the field during practice at the Giants training facility
Several Giants players have felt the effects of Martindale’s arrival.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Martindale knows he is fortunate to have Love as defensive play caller in the wake of Xavier McKinney’s broken-fingers mishap. Big Blue’s mentality won’t change.

“We’re just gonna knock somebody the f–k out that’s in front of us,” Ward said.

Martindale interviewed with the Giants for the head-coach job that went to Judge.

“I would love the opportunity to run a team,” Martindale said, “but everything has to fit just right.

“It just hasn’t fit right yet.

“I think if you make that the main goal, then it takes away from what you’re doing with the job you have.”

Hire this man.

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