Giants DC Wink Martindale says Xavier McKinney’s comments hurt locker room

The 2023-24 Giants season is becoming a lost one, and with it comes frustrations from players. But after Big Blue’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders this past Sunday, safety Xavier McKinney made headlines when he publicly criticized the coaching staff.

Following the loss, McKinney said he doesn’t believe the Giants coaches have “done a great job of letting the leaders lead” and that it’s hard for the defense to make plays when the players feel they aren’t being heard.

On Thursday, Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale had a chance to respond to McKinney’s comments.

“It surprised me, because it’s the first time it’s ever happened in my career,” Martindale said. “That a player would make a statement like that. I think it was a case where the kid is just frustrated from losing. We spoke. We cleared it up. The example he gave me of what he was talking about was an in-game adjustment. And it really took a while for him to point out to me what exactly it was, but I think you grow from that.

“I just told him that’s something that hurts the locker room, it hurts the defensive room when you say something like that. I’ll tell you all the exact thing I used is it – and I understand clicks and all the things that you do and I respect your profession, but the example I used in front of him and the entire defense was when you make a statement like that, it puts money in your pockets and takes it out of ours, talking about the media, you know what I mean? I said you just have to understand that it was an emotional thing right after the game and you’ve just got to learn from it, so we’re moving on.”

Martindale added that he allows his players to voice their opinions and grievances, and the coaching staff has already addressed McKinney’s comments with the rest of the team, but the veteran coordinator does admit that the comments “hurt” him.

“Yeah, it did [hurt]. It did because I’ve always been open, I’ve always been honest with players and I think if you have a problem, it’s just how we handle things in that room,” Martindale said. “You read [McKinney’s comments] and go, ‘What? What is he talking about’, you know what I mean? It’s alright, we are moving on from it.”

McKinney is in the final year of his contract with the Giants after being drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft. In nine games, the safety has 53 tackles (41 solo), but Martindale doesn’t believe this conflict will affect McKinney’s playing time down the stretch.

We’ll see if McKinney’s playing time is affected this Sunday when the Giants go up against the Dallas Cowboys.