Blake Martinez was a certified tackling machine during his days with the Green Bay Packers. However, despite his ability to stuff the run as well as the stat sheet while stationed in Wisconsin, his inefficiencies in pass-coverage left many wary of throwing big-money his direction this past free-agency.
Good news for the G-Men, Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com believes that money was well spent, as she envisions a career-year for the league’s second-leading tackler from a season ago. In return projecting Martinez as New York’s most improved player for the 2020 season.
Next Gen Stats show that, as a Packer last season, Martinez made a tackle on 15.8 percent of his snaps (third-highest rate in the NFL among those with a minimum of 500 defensive snaps). The Giants’ defense, especially in the middle, will rely on Martinez’s effective play, likely requiring him to make even more tackles than the Packers’ defense required of him last season.
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Martinez Ready to Flex His Coverage Skills
Martinez’s perceived struggles in pass-coverage have been well documented over the years and hammered into Giants faithful’s skulls since the team signed the linebacker back in March.
A quick glimpse at the stats, and it’s easy to see why. Per Pro Football Focus, Martinez allowed 58 receptions in his coverage area a season ago, ranking eighth-most amongst all linebackers. He’s also registered coverage grades of 47.6 or below in two of his four pro seasons.
However, according to Martinez, much of those stats mentioned above can be attributed to the Packers’ defensive scheme and him fulfilling his coach’s demands to “play off” of the team’s edge rushers, per NJ Advance Media.
In our defense no matter what it was, since I was the only linebacker on the field, I was taught and told once again, to be the clean up crew guy.
In fact, Martinez views himself as one of the league’s better coverage backers in football, and apparently so did his ex-coaches.
For the most part, other than that, my coach last year, he basically was like ‘Oh yeah, you’re one of the best, if not the best, zone coverage linebackers I’ve ever been around.’
Despite not being fully able to blossom in the Packers’ scheme, Martinez has shown growth in coverage over the past two seasons, evident by his 73.4 PFF coverage grade average over that span. A statistic that Martinez clearly feels like he can better in his new stomping grounds.
Overall, I think I am able to do whatever I’m asked to do. I can go and cover tight ends, I can go and cover running backs, I can play in zones, I can do all of the things that you need to do as an inside linebacker.
Now in New York, Martinez feels like he’s found “the kind of fit” best suited for his play style, reuniting with his one-time Packers positional coach and current Giants defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham.
Martinez will undoubtedly continue to pile up the tackles with his new team. However, if he can also back up his boisterous claims of coverage abilities, he’ll not only be heading for a career season in 2020, but likely cementing himself amongst the league’s very best at his position along the way.
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