The Green Bay Packers could be losing plenty of talent on defense in 2017. All that means is that Blake Martinez will be given his opportunity to shine.
2016 was Blake Martinez’s rookie season. The Green Bay Packers linebacker was given plenty of time on the field, and put up solid numbers due to that. However, he wasn’t exactly given the freedoms that come with being the leader of the pack.
Looking to 2017, fans could see a Packers defense without Julius Peppers, while the futures of Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are uncertain as well. All of this begs the question: Who’s going to take over? Martinez is the answer, and it’s time for the Packers to start molding him into the star of the defense.
The Packers selected Martinez in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, 131st overall. In his rookie year, he collected 69 tackles, one sack, one interception, and four pass deflections. The best thing he did though, was gain experience. I know, that’s a cliche thing to say, but it’s true.
Martinez played his college football at Stanford, which means he’s going to get the classic “smart player” tag on him. It’s one of those annoying stereotypes that follow players around. In this case, though, it fits. Watching him dropping into coverage, he has a fantastic combination of recognition and football IQ. His ability to naturally adjust within a single play, particularly in crossing routes, is commendable at the very least.
This actually comes up a lot. Martinez might not be the best cover linebacker in the NFL, but his smarts have helped him on multiple occasions. While actual athleticism and skill are extremely important, brains play a major part in football. Reading offenses, blocks, schemes, routes, etc., all have their role. Being able to do those things well will make it tough for a coach not to put you on the field.
Martinez is then helped out by his size. At 6-2, 237 pounds, he’s not small by any means. Add his ability to fill up gaps and read offenses well, and he’s got the makings of a menace. With so many big names potentially gone from the Packers defense in 2017, it’s time for them to make a new one out of Martinez as he enters his second season.