“OG of the System” Wink Martindale Pledges to Follow Jim Harbaugh & Jesse Minter’s Defensive Mindset Even After Their Exit

Published 03/13/2024, 12:35 PM EDT

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If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Sherrone Moore said when the critics accused him of trying to change the ways of Michigan since he was so bent on not being Jim Harbaugh. Following that, Moore’s savvy moves of hiring the best of the coaches as a replacement for the former OG team at Michigan was something that shunned the naysayers even more. The ultimate checkmate move by Moore was hiring Don Wink Martindale as Jesse Minter’s replacement since Wink’s the one who taught Minter the basics of a defensive scheme.

Agreed that Minter’s honing of skills is the one to credit for leading Michigan’s defense to the top of the charts in previous seasons. However, it was the scheme that Minter applied to work, paired with his understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Michigan boys, that he could do so. Martindale knew how smartly Minter played his cards and, being his former mentor, Wink is trying to carry on the legacy, just in his OG style.

Wink Martindale’s plans for Michigan’s defense


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Just like Moore agreed to keep some parts of the coaching scheme similar to that of Harbaugh’s, Wink Martindale is tapped in with an identical statement when asked about his defensive mantra for the season. The fresh DC at Michigan oozed some seasoned confidence when he told the players, “In all humility, I’m the OG of this system, so we’re going to be just fine.” Finally spilling the beans on the defensive scheme they are going to follow in the next season, Martindale had one requirement from the Michigan players. “You better be physical if you’re going to play at the University of Michigan.”

This is the only sign that fans needed to know about how Michigan was going to stop the run. Safe to say, Martindale is equipped with mostly everything he needs for his aggressive strategy, especially with some heavyweight defensive tackles in the mix. The No.1 defensive tackle in the Nation, Mason Graham, walking in the 2024 season belongs to Martindale’s defensive line. The No. 6 Kenneth Grant is too right beside the team, the perfect pick for the DC’s plan. However, the only thing lacking in the linemen is this.


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Martindale on ‘improving what’s lacking’

“The thing that you see — and this is through the draft process when you’re evaluating college guys coming out — is the lack of technique that a lot of them play with,” Michigan’s DC elaborated. Martindale’s 19 years of acquaintance with the NFL has taught him a thing or two, especially his 7 seasons as a DC. Martindale expressed that Moore overlooking the offensive side, because of his acquaintance with UM offense for the past 6 seasons, gives the defense an advantage by “putting them in the right mindset”, making up for this lack.

READ ALSO: “If It’s Not Broke Don’t Fix”: Sherrone Moore Reveals Future Plans Around Michigan’s Program in Post Jim Harbaugh Era


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Since he had already pointed out the negatives, the DC didn’t hold back on bringing the positives to the forefront as well. “These guys are square football players who play with knock-back, and they can make plays. It warms my heart to see that,” the Michigan DC said. With elite tackles like Graham and Grant on his roster, who go flawlessly with his plan, Martindale is expected to set the Michigan defenses’ standards even higher for the next season. What do you think?

READ MORE: “We Didn’t Plan on Sherrone…”: AD Manuel Warde Gets Real on Michigan’s Decision to Replace Jim Harbaugh With Moore


Written by:

Pankti Parmar


One take at a time

Pankti Parmar is an NFL news writer at EssentiallySports. She combines her educational background in psychology with a passion for sports to delve into the minds of athletes and their game strategies. She's our resident expert on Jim Harbaugh and played a pivotal role in our play-by-play coverage of Harbaugh's journey from the Wolverines to the Chargers.
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Edited by:

Tripti Sarda