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Cory's Corner: Start Talking About Blake Martinez

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Cory's Corner: Start Talking About Blake Martinez

As we get closer and closer to camp opening, who has nobody been talking about.

The answer is simple: Blake Martinez. He is one of, if not the most, consistent players on defense. Yet, he remains in the shadows because he’s a lunch pail guy that doesn’t do anything flashy.

Well, Martinez is the quarterback of a defense that has been pegged by Pro Football Focus as the No. 1 running defense — and most of that is because of how well Martinez leads, teaches and tackles.

Martinez is entering his third season and has really blossomed from being a very raw rookie a couple years ago. To prove his worth, Martinez played 93 percent of the defensive snaps last year — which included eight games in which he didn’t miss snap.

He was fourth among all inside linebackers in tackles (109) and was a respectable 17thin quarterback hurries with seven. 

At a time when the Packers are relying on so much youth, Martinez is perfect for this defense because he plays like a grizzled veteran. He is very smart at the point of attack and always play right up until the whistle.

The easy names that keep popping up on defense have been Kenny Clark, Muhammed Wilkerson, Mike Daniels, Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. It’s easy to forget a guy like Martinez because he’s a gray pickup truck. There’s a little rust underneath, but that hasn’t affected how it runs. It isn’t going to wow anyone with speed but it is also never going to stop until the work is done.

Martinez has the ears of everyone else on defense because they all respect how far he has come. He was taken in the fourth round out of Stanford. He knows that he will never have the most talent on the field, but he also knows that he is probably smarter than most inside linebackers. He understands the game, but more importantly, he understands people. He knows when to push buttons and when to lay off. And most important of all, the rest of the defensive huddle respects the heck out of him for it.

If Aaron Rodgers is throwing seeds to Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham and Randall Cobb and the running game continues its ascent, the only thing holding this team back from winning the NFC is the defense.

And the first person to turn that around is Martinez. His recognition and cognition are making people take notice of Green Bay’s defense.

And yet, the talk surrounding Martinez remains silent. Ironically enough, he probably prefers it that way.




Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bure9620's picture

Martinez is a 3-4 downhill tackler, and a good one.
But not atheltic enough for the direction the NFL is moving, you need coverage skills and speed in the middle of the field and the Packers have been sorely lacking there. Hence, the drafting of Oren Burks. I like Burks. He could be similar to Deion Jones, but bigger.

Coldworld's picture

Burks has the potential to be exciting, but I differ with you when you suggest that the future is going to leave the Martinez type on the scrap heap. While certain formations may use two hybrid safety line backer types (one could argue they have for a long time), these tend to be formations geared to daring the opponent to run or reflecting a belief that they won’t. Jones is well suited for these.

Martinez and Burks together is really a good example of the type of ILB pairing that I think is where the game is progressing. If Burks can match his physical potential to on field success it will be a great step forward. I suspect he will do that next to Martinez most of the time.

Bure9620's picture

I agree with you that a defense could dare a team to run, but with RPO an offense can call the bluff here. The O-line is run blocking on an RPO anyway and so would the TE. The QB needs to get the ball out quickly on these plays and often times it is a slant or drag route over the middle, it would take advantage of a matchup against a less atheltic LB like Martinez.

Demon's picture

Dont you think we may be jumping the gun here? Training camp hasnt even started yet. Give it a few weeks and preseason games before we start assuming that burks will even sniff the field.

Bure9620's picture


cap'n kirk's picture

Please don't compare Burks to Jones, just because both have speed; it's lazy. Deion Jones was a big-time difference maker in college. A guy that should have been a 1st rd pick, but fell to the 2nd because teams thought he was 'too small'. Oren Burks is not on the same level when it comes to play recognition or the ability to shed blocks, when engaged. When Deion Jones played against top level competition in college, he played his best. When Oren Burks played against the top level teams in the SEC, he was really bad. Go watch the game tape of him last year against Alabama - it's some of the worst college tape from a 3rd rd pick that you'll see.

Nick Perry's picture

No offense but he did say "he could be similar only bigger". That's not really a comparison is it?

As far as what Burks did against Alabama I'll take your word for it. But I'll also point out that Alabama is filled with 5 Star recruits, and one of the best college coaches who's ever coached at the college level. Burks is a hell of an athlete, lets give him a chance before basically suggesting his tape in college is one of the worst ever by a 3rd rounder.

Edit...I'd also venture to say the D-Linemen at Vandy probably aren't the best in college football either. As a team they were 1-7 in the SEC. Could it be possible Burks is actually a pretty damn good football player but an excellent student who had an opportunity to get one of the best educations possible at one of the most prestigious Universities anywhere?

Bure9620's picture

All of this is True NP. I went back and watched the tape, Alabama purposley on many running plays brought 2 blockers Burks way at the second level and rubbed him out of many plays. This alone shows what Saban was thinking, they schemed away from him. There were a couple of missed tackles by Burks and 2 over run plays but I also counted on 2 occasions where Burks was actually lined up outside and singled, he was in the backfield both times, and once getting a sack. People are being pretty unfair to him about the Alabama tape.

The TKstinator's picture

Paragraph 7: Nick Barnett?

Nick Perry's picture

Martinez took one of those often talked about, always hoped for "2nd Year Jumps." What he's lacking in speed he more than makes up for in brains. Like Cory said he understands the game which probably is a good reason why he made such a huge jump last season.

I understand the Packers have drafted Burks and have Josh Jones for most of those responsibilities but there will be times Martinez will be in coverage and IMO that's where he improves this year. Coming out he was supposed to be a pretty good in coverage. IMO that's exactly where Martinez makes another jump. If you look at his times in the 40, 3 cone, and shuttle he was actually pretty good at least compared to most ILB.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

LOL, the first thing I did was google his combine numbers, and then I started reading the comments. Great minds and all that. Martinez had a 6.98 second 3-cone, a 4.20 20 yard shuttle and a 4.71 forty. I expect his coverage to improve. His COD looks good for underneath zones.

Nick Perry's picture

He had a high of 4.72, a low of 4.52 so they come up with 4.62.... Then they listed his "Combine 40" at 4.71.

I know you know a hell of a lot more about this than me TGR so what the hell IS his time?

The TKstinator's picture

A big factor in these times is whether it is done by hand (human holding a stopwatch) or by electronic timing (clock starts automatically at the start and stops when the runner breaks the electric beam across the finish line).
The standard adjustment from hand time to electronic is to add 0.24 seconds to a hand time. Hand times are “faster” because the human with the stopwatch has to react to the start and the finish. Hand times can vary greatly, and are considered much less accurate.
So, a speed LB with a 4.50 hand timed 40 is really a 4.74 not so speedy LB.
I could be mistaken but I believe the combine 40’s are electronic (slower but more accurate) whereas the “pro day” 40’s are hand timed (by good ol’ coach McGee who wants to see his boys get drafted high by the mighty NFL).

Nick Perry's picture

Then look at Deion Jones numbers...More specific the 3-cone and the shuttle.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't know this for sure, but my understanding is the low, actual and high 40 times are projections. The link below shows Devin White (still at LSU) along with his projected times of 4.54, 4.64, and 4.75. I believe we are looking at the expectations game. Maybe someone knows for sure. Martinez's time was 4.71 at the combine. Sometimes they report two forty times with one being official. Not sure why.

Adding .24 sounds like a lot to me, TK.

The TKstinator's picture

Adding ,24 was “the” standard conversion back when I was a sprinter in college. (30 years ago!)
I looked up more recent info on this subject and according to what I found, the conversion could be as little as .10 and as much as....well, human error but I believe the article stated .25

So hand is “fast” no matter how you slice it. Electronic is “slow” but much more accurate.

(FTR, I preferred quoting my “hand” times.)

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I categorically refuse to discuss your hand times.

I used to have to hand-time traffic light sequencing for cases. When we were able to get official DOT traffic light sequence times, I'd be within .10 seconds usually. That was a long time ago, and I don't remember if the times I recorded were more or less than the official times.

Johnblood27's picture

I hate the weight given to 40 times run in underwear.

Put the pads and cleats on and see who has "game" speed.

track 40 times mean very little in terms of differences of 0.2 to 0.4 seconds in terms of on field play speed.

The pads on a "weaker" player will slow him significantly while a "stronger" player will see little or no speed reduction. Strength being lean, balance and movement technique as much as sheer physical strength.

Pads, pads, pads... the great speed equalizer.

Nick Perry's picture

You and I both Johnblood27. I understand the value of the combine but i will NEVER understand the value in the 40 time. Dressed in spandex and put in a sprinters stance (sort of), I just don't get it nor will I ever. The 3 cone and shuttle are better drills for getting an idea about the players.

stockholder's picture

Martinez never will be Brian Urlacker. But he may just be better than Aj Hawk. He will never be a Desmond Bishop. He may never become that speed guy LB. But what he has he makes the most of. I already think he's smarter than Nick Barnett. I see more limited time to keep his legs fresh. I believe he rotates more this year. While the numbers may drop. Martinez will be that football player that only makes the defense better. The hole will be plugged.

kevgk's picture

I wouldn't make any of those comparisons yet. He looked like he was always around the ball last year, but he was playing for a much weaker middle of the field than the teams those players were on. He had way more opportunities to make tackles.

The TKstinator's picture

Are you saying that Des Bishop was a speed LB?

Demon's picture

Bishop was a thumper tthat played with heart and a mean streak!

The TKstinator's picture

Totally agree.
6th rounder iirc and not fast at all, but tough as nails and mean!

Demon's picture

I would say that Martinez is already better than Hawk. There are games where Martinez really sticks out. I dont remember Hawk making a difference in very many games.

Oppy's picture

Different roles, hard to compare in my opinion.
Admittedly, I believe Hawk was underappreciated.

kevgk's picture

Martinez needs to work on the slash plays. That is the reason he wasn't in the probowl discussion last year - no turnovers.
Pettine's system gives linebackers a lot of freedom and space for open tackles. If he can punch a few balls loose or snag a few interceptions, he'll be well on his way to recognition.
Another reason for his lack of media presence, much like Kenny Clark, is the Packers as a team didn't succeed last season, and so the individuals got ignored. Players for the Rams, Eagles, Jaguars, and Vikings didn't come out of nowhere, they just got noticed when the team performed well. I expect a lot of Packers to start turning heads this year.

PatrickGB's picture

The man prepares! Lots of film study and training can make up for a less than stellar combine. Heck, he even was so prepared that he had every teams hat before he even knew which team was going to draft him.

Bearmeat's picture

Martinez is a good player - at perhaps the least valuable position on defense - run stopping ILB. He's not great against RBs, slot WRs and TEs down the seam.

I'm glad to have Martinez, no doubt, but I expect Josh Jones and Burks to have bigger impacts on the success of the defense by the end of the year.

PS: Al, why have I been seeing two posts for the "featured article" on a daily basis for a week or two? I posted on the other one, and it didn't show up on this one?

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Thanks for mentioning Josh Jones. I like Burks, but I'd actually prefer Jones as an explosive pairing with Martinez inside. Jones is a 220+ pound missile--unlike anything I've seen in Green Bay for many years.

People forget how Capers wasted Jones by pulling him back from the front 7 after he showed that was his strength. Granted, it was prompted by injuries, but it still obliterated Jones's rookie season.

We've got plenty of good young safeties. I'd like Jones next to Martinez, offsetting Blake's pedestrian athleticism and benefiting from Blake's instincts and command.

As for Burks? Backup.

Spock's picture

To Jersey Al, I second the question about the double posting of articles on CHTV. Seems to be a new problem and I've had the same issue about posting on the first article (I live on the West coast and am usually up very early in the morning) only to see that article disappear.

Handsback's picture

When Martinez was drafted, in most publications and draft experts (agree or not on that) it was stated that Green Bay got one of the best coverage LBs in the draft. So his 3-cone drill under 7 seconds confirmed that. I believe what has surprised the coaches is his effectiveness in the run. He can cover backs and TEs, maybe not like Jones, but good enough that other coaches have to gameplan against him. What he brings to the table is that he can stop the run and be used on passing downs. He may not be the best ILB in the league...but he's a great piece of the puzzle that Pettine will use as much as possible. He's not coming off the field except for 4th downs and a breather. He's a keeper!

HeyJoe415's picture

What Martinez may lack in speed (I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and call his 40 time 4.62) he makes up in smarts. And 4.62 isn’t exactly like running in mud. What he does lack, compared to Jones, is sideline to sideline ability, but even that is a small knock. I’m hoping Burks lives up to his 3rd round selection, although one comment on how he fared against stronger (SEC) opponents concerns me. Still, he has the physical tools and the rest can be coached/learned. Jones has had a few missteps of his own and needs to improve his game. All that said, I like the idea of Martinez, Jones, and Burks all in or around the middle of the field. That’s a powerful trio whether an opponent is running, passing, or even using play action. I don’t remember the last time the Packers were strong, or even above average, in the middle of the field. Hopefully that get fixed this year with the ascension of Martinez and Jones, and the addition of Burks. And proof of that would be more TOs by Martinez.

Lare's picture

Everybody seems to be basing opinions on Martinez due to his speed numbers and his play in Capers defensive system last year. Personally, I think everything in the Packers defense was a bit of a mess last year with Capers, the defensive coaches and the players Thompson gave them to work with.

The rest of the defensive players seem to respect Martinez for his ability to be the on-field captain of the defense and his overall production & effort. If so, I think he'll be even better this year than he was last year and the defense will improve as a result.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I like Martinez. I just think he's an average athlete, and all the smarts in the world mean nothing when a better athlete is pulling away from you on a route--or when a QB has that extra second to throw because you're more cerebral than explosive in your blitz.

I really wish we could put Josh Jones next to Martinez. Jones's incredible burst and hitting ability--along with his speed in coverage--would perfectly compliment Martinez's skills.

Martinez isn't a terrible athlete; just an average one at best. Jones is a missile. I think these two would make a perfect team inside.

Tundraboy's picture

Got to take into account that it is a passing league, but hey I'll take number 1 in anything associated with our D. As long as its positive of course. And as far as Martinez, he's part of the solution,not part of the problem. Need more guys like him than less.

4thand10's picture

At times, Martinez looked like the only Packer who could actually wrap up and tackle IMO. PFF has him graded above average..which is kinda what I’ve seen. He doubled both his tackle numbers and his Pass Defense numbers from 2016 to 2017. I don’t know what his ceiling is, but clearly he is an assending player.

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