McKinney griped about a communication disconnect, suggesting that leaders “are not really being heard.”
“Honestly, it sucks. But, I don’t know, man. I don’t really have many words. I think that from a leadership standpoint, I don’t think they’ve done a great job of letting the leaders lead, and listening to the leaders and the captains,” McKinney said, via ESPN. “But obviously it sucks losing.”
“I would say you have to ask Xavier that. I don’t know exactly where he’s coming from or where he’s feeling that, but for me personally, I think we do a good job just being able to communicate with the staff. Anything we need or any of our frustrations or whatever, any questions we have, I feel like they are pretty open,” Thomas said on Monday.
No one else shared McKinney’s sentiments, either.
The entire thing caught defensive coordinator Wink Martindale off guard and it hurt him a little bit.
“I mean it surprised me because it’s the first time it’s ever happened in my career,” Martindale told reporters on Thursday. “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 that he gave me of what he was talking about was an in-game adjustment and it was over — I mean it really took a while for him to point out to me exactly what it was, but I think that you grow from that.
“I just told him that’s something that it’s hurt 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.”
Following Thursday’s practice, McKinney declined to speak with reporters.
Meanwhile, in an effort to ensure that McKinney’s frustration was an isolated incident, Martindale sat down with other members of his defense to see if they were upset. Other than being frustrated with losing, they had no issues with the veteran defensive coordinator or his communication.
“I had to evaluate, I had to go back and talk to the leaders and when I say leaders, you don’t have to have a ‘C’ on your chest to be a leader,” Martindale said. “I talked to the vets, A’Shawn (Robinson) and (Rakeem Nuñez-Roches), I can go down the list, Bobby (Okereke), I talked to everybody in every room, and I said ‘hey, is there something that we’re not discussing? Is there a problem here?’ And to a man, they said no.”
Martindale considers the issue put to bed. He said the team is moving onto Dallas but left open the possibility that McKinney sees a reduced role on Sunday. However, he notes, that would be head coach Brian Daboll’s decision and not necessarily his own.