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State of the NFC East: Don “Wink” Martindale is joining the New York Giants staff

New York is looking a little more intimidating after recent hires.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While it may not feel like it, the NFC East has seen an enormous bit of action over the last week. The New York Giants introduced a new head coach, Brian Daboll, and immediately saw the process for how they chose him called out in extremely serious manner by former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. That matter is an ongoing one that we will have to wait to see the full fallout from.

Elsewhere, the Washington Football Team rose from their self-induced ashes as the Washington Commanders and immediately saw the entire world drag them into oblivion for how badly they botched their re-brand. Hogs Haven’s Bryan Stabbe was on the latest edition of the NFC East Mixtape with myself and Brandon Lee Gowton (of Bleeding Green Nation fame) to discuss the Commanders in greater detail, but BLG and I also touched on everything happening across the division.

A reminder that the NFC East Mixtape drops every week and lives on the podcast feeds of all four division team sites here at SB Nation. It is an extremely unique podcast in that sense. Remember to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network so you get access to all of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

What else is happening throughout the division? Let’s catch up.


Philadelphia Eagles

Like the Cowboys the Eagles have been relatively quiet as of late, such is life when your season ends early on in the playoffs.

Also similar to Dallas, the Eagles saw one of their coordinators return to their team after not getting a head coaching offer elsewhere. Jonathan Gannon will be back commanding (no, we’re not there yet) the Philadelphia defense in 2022.

From our friends at Bleeding Green Nation:

To Gannon’s credit, he did a pretty good of preventing lesser quarterbacks from going off against the Eagles. Philadelphia allowed just 15.7 points per game to non-playoff teams.

But Gannon’s defense was regularly ineffective against the league’s better quarterback. In seven games against playoff teams, the Eagles allowed 34.7 points per game. Take out the meaningless Week 18 game against the Dallas Cowboys and that number drops down to 32. For perspective, the New York Jets allowed the most points per game in 2021 at 29.4.

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No one should’ve reasonably expected the Eagles to had the NFL’s best defense in 2021. It’s not like Gannon was supposed to be coaching the 1985 Chicago Bears out there. But it’s not like the Eagles were totally devoid of defensive talent. Again, there’s a stronger argument the defense underperormed than it overperformed.

This isn’t to suggest that Gannon is a lost cause. Perhaps he learns from his first year as a defensive coordinator and makes some adjustments. Perhaps an infusion of defensive talent — the Eagles do have three first-round picks, after all — will do wonders for him.

But it’s also quite possible that he’s just not a great DC.

Gannon has much to prove in Year 2.

The second game between Dallas and Philadelphia is difficult to properly take anything out of given that both teams had already clinched the playoffs and Philadelphia wasn’t exactly playing their starters. But the first matchup between the two clubs is fair game and the aforementioned Kellen Moore had no real challenge from Jonathan Gannon. Hopefully that trend continues.


Washington Commanders

When we spoke to Hogs Haven’s Bryan Stabbe on the Mixtape he was rather displeased with Washington’s choice of Commanders as the team’s new identity. As it has been a week now we can look back no longer in the moment and acknowledge how predictable and unoriginal their name is. All of the details around the release were handled poorly and Washington fans have no real sense of hope in the direction of their team (what a shame!).

To be clear, there are far more important reasons to be disgusted with the Washington franchise than the name that they choose to call themselves and it seems that their fan base is reaching a breaking point.

From our friends at Hogs Haven in an open letter addressed to Dan and Tanya Snyder:

From the outside, a culture shift looks to be in play, but internally, the franchise is still rotting at its very core. The toxic workplace culture that permeates throughout the organization is something that loyal fans can no longer turn their backs on. Accusations by over 40 former female employees of sexual harassment, bullying, and intimidation are causing your Titanic to slowly sink. Recent accusations made to congress during the roundtable discussion have brought these into an even brighter light…one that you can no longer cover with dark sunglasses.

Your refusal to release to the public, the findings in the Wilkinson report, further tarnish your public image – an image that can never be repaired.

They say if you love something, set it free. Many fans really doubt if you LOVE The Washington Commanders, but we can all agree on one thing – OUR deep desire for you both to SET IT FREE!

Please, do what is right and sell The Washington Commanders! The fans, players, former employees you have hurt, and current ones who remain in the building deserve a clean break and a fresh start for the team we so dearly love!

It seems unlikely that Washington will change ownership anytime soon, but it is not at all difficult to understand their fans wanting to see it happen.

There are a lot of dysfunctional franchises in the NFL at the moment. The Commanders remain a special kind of dysfunctional, though.


New York Giants

While the Giants did hire a new head coach in Brian Daboll, they were reportedly wanting to keep one thing the same and that was Patrick Graham as the team’s defensive coordinator. Ultimately Graham chose to leave for the same role with the Las Vegas Raiders leaving a void with the G-Men. Tuesday it was reported that New York has found a new defensive coordinator, and it is one with an impressive résumé in Don “Wink” Martindale.

From our friends at Big Blue View:

It always seemed likely that Martindale would get the nod for the Giants. He was the first candidate they interviewed after Patrick Graham’s departure for the Las Vegas Raiders. Martindale was also interviewed by the Giants’ for their head coaching vacancy prior to the hiring of Joe Judge in 2020.

The Giants were reportedly “infatuated” with the Ravens way of doing business during their search for a general manager following the departure of Dave Gettleman. Martindale had been with the Ravens since 2012, first as a linebackers coach, then their defensive coordinator.

Martindale runs a similar system to Patrick Graham, relying on coverage and an aggressive blitz scheme. The Ravens fielded a Top 5 defense from 2018 to 2020, before injuries and free agent losses forced them to take as step backward in 2021.

Martindale will reportedly get a three-year contract from the Giants.

The hire hasn’t been officially confirmed by the Giants as of this writing, so stay with Big Blue View for all the updates as we get them.

Objectively speaking, this is a pretty solid hire for the Giants. Martindale has a track record of success and having that prominent voice on defense should allow Daboll the ability to focus on reviving New York’s offense.

The Giants are far from a team that we have to worry all too much about at the moment, but it seems like their days of being dreadful might be a thing of the past. This Martindale move really does suggest that they are starting to get their ducks in a row, 105.3 The Fan’s Bryan Broaddus even referred to it as “their Dan Quinn move.

Guess we’ll see how it all works out.