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How Giants DC Wink Martindale beats Scott Turner and Taylor Heinicke on a pivotal third down

The Commanders opening drive showed much promise in what they could do against the Giants’ defense. However, shortly after a negative Curtis Samuel run, Giants DC Wink Martindale schemed up a disguise that stole Washington’s momentum.

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Commanders Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past three weeks, the Commanders film study on the New York Giants created a unique situation for Washington’s coaches and players. With no games scheduled, they could hone in on the Giants’ tendencies in great detail, self-scout in greater detail, and identify alternative plans of attacking or defending New York.

Washington’s preparation was tested throughout the game, but very much so on the opening drive Sunday night. Washington’s opening drive seemed promising, and they were approaching the red zone as their ninth play of the drive set them up with a first and ten at the Giants’ 32-yard line. However, after a poorly executed Curtis Samuel run that netted a three-yard loss on first down, Washington ultimately faced a third and nine two plays later.

Two weeks ago, the Commanders called a man/zone beating concept, but it has to be read right from the quarterback.

From the first Giants game, Washington also faced a third down here and typically faced man coverage in 3rd and long situations against New York.

From Sunday night, Washington expected a man coverage call from Martindale, and based on the defense’s pre-snap look, and they got it. In turn, Heinicke likely expected Samuel’s route to be available at the snap. However, Martindale was aware of his own tendencies and rotated from a single-high coverage into a Quarters coverage.

This late rotation confused Heinicke, and he ended up staying on his read far too long while McLaurin’s slant was available to him on the backside of the play. The sack ended up dropping Washington to a fourth and 12, where Ron Rivera chose to punt the football at the Giants’ 34.