Jihad Ward hopes to get a nod from Wink.
The Giants signed Ward as the first rusher added during the free agency, believing that reuniting the former second-round draftee with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale could result in a cost-effective production when most needed.
“I wanted to go somewhere that makes me feel comfortable, and Wink is one of those coaches that will basically make me extend my career to be the best I can be,” Ward said Monday from Giants headquarters. “Wink is one of the coaches who did a great job with me when I was a raven, so I’m here now and ready to win some games.”
With a total of four sacks over 21 games for the Ravens in 2019-20, the 27-year-old Ward earned a $2.5 million free agent contract with the Jaguars. He added two more bags and 17 pressings to 457 defensive shots – his most since 636 as a rookie with the Raiders – in 17 games.
“I can give a lot to the team,” Ward said. “The most important thing I can bring to the table is just trying to win matches and take control of the edge and then dominate the D-line. I think I can be one of the best players out there and one of the top guys of the D-lin. So, when you play with the Giants, the D-line will be mentioned”.
The Giants’ primary investments in their defensive line are a pair of contenders – former first-round pick Dexter Lawrence and former Pro Bowler Leonard Williams – who account for $31.5 million in the 2022 salary cap. The rusher’s edge has been a wasteland (Marcus Golden’s 10-season season ruled out). bags in 2019) since Jason Pierre-Paul traded and the Giants turned 3-4 base in 2018.
Martindale inherited his outside players Aziz Ogulari and Quincy Roche after they promised a rookie season. But if Martindale is going to prove his style — the Ravens have led the league in the blitz percentage in three of the past four seasons — then depth and new legs matter.
“Basically, just getting in with that aggression,” Ward said of Martindale’s philosophy. “You never know when we will come. This is his kind of style. We will come to you.”
It looks easy. it’s not. Even for Ward, who says he can line up in any situation across the front.
“The only thing is that with the rest of the D line that’s here, we just have to basically understand its different types of interfaces,” Ward said. “It is very difficult for us, and we will change the scheme based on what the staff is. There will be a lot of [creating] Confusion and Diversity”.
Ward grew up as an Eagles fan in Philadelphia, but his football development began at the now-defunct International Institute of Technology, located on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. He took the bus, ferry, and subway from his dorm to pick up equipment to practice—it was all worth it when an Illinois recruit noticed his middle school film.
“It was part of being an adult,” Ward said. “That’s how I describe it. It takes me three hours every day to go to school, so it’s totally different now because I have so little money. Everything gets more difficult when you don’t have the money. So, when I come back here, I just think of Those times are like, “Damn, I’ve really managed to do this for two years.” I’ll love him here forever, though. I’m glad to be back.”
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