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Packers' Martinez expecting to benefit in year two of Pettine's defense

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Packers' Martinez expecting to benefit in year two of Pettine's defense

-- Who knows who Blake Martinez is going to be playing next to in the heart of the Green Bay Packers' defense this season, but if anything is for certain, it's that the stakes are significantly higher for Martinez in 2019.

In a contract year, the possibility of landing millions upon millions and finally playing out his rookie deal doesn't faze Martinez. Not even in the slightest.

"That’s what I told my agent. 'You’re going to have to deal with that because I just love playing football.' Right now, I’m just going out there and playing and whatever happens, happens," Martinez told Packers.com on Wednesday. "I think you just kind of think about our ultimate goals. Not everyone in the league is looking for money."

No linebacker in the league has more tackles than Martinez since 2017. That statistic alone is enough to warrant big money for the 25-year-old, but if he plays well, his future could just remain in Green Bay. Even with the Packers' tendency to devalue the middle linebacker position.

Of course, that philosophy fell under the umbrella of a previous administration; one that was spearheaded by former general manager Ted Thompson, who has since shifted into a senior advisor role. Brian Gutekunst, however, could view the position differently.

Gutekunst did select Vanderbilt's Oren Burks in the third round of last year's draft, and if he's able to make a promising leap in his second season, the Packers could have a component to roll out next to Martinez. Otherwise, many believe that Devin Bush out of Michigan could be an option for the Packers in this month's draft.

What Burks and Martinez will both be able to take advantage of is playing a second year under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Martinez entered the league with Dom Capers as his coordinator and spent his first two seasons playing for a porous group. Not only have players spoken highly of Pettine and all that he's preaching, but establishing a sense of familiarity -- and avoiding a third coordinator hiring in three years -- could heighten confidence levels across the defensive roster.

Martinez, who was admittedly excited to see Pettine return, will provide a different type of presence -- mainly because he's a different-looking player.

"I gained seven pounds, lost three-and-a-half percent of body fat," Martinez said. "I think they said I lost eight pounds of fat, gained 15 pounds of muscle. S, not messing around this year. Last year I wasn’t happy. A lot of things went into it."

The Packers have often sported the luxury of flexibility and interchangeability with their players. Cycling guys in and out, rotating line-ups, etc.

But that's one thing Martinez is excited to see somewhat change. Most players will have solidified roles in Pettine's defense, which will decrease the likelihood of players subbing in and being unaware of their responsibilities in the heat of the moment.

"It was one of the other things Pettine hit on throughout the meetings, just getting to that graduate level. Understanding the little things of why he’s calling the play, why he's putting certain guys in certain situations, certain formations, certain checks, certain things like that that will allow us to be one to two steps quicker to making plays one yard in the backfield instead of, say two yards down the field.

"Aaron [Rodgers] has hit on it a bunch: We’re wanting to win a Super Bowl. That’s our goal, that’s our mindset. That’s going to be my mindset every day, and getting better every single day. I know if I’m doing that, all that other stuff is going to come in line."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Packer Dave's picture

I'd like to see him extended. He's proven he has the smarts to qb the defense and provides the sure tackling presence we need in the middle. I expect Burks to come back a contributor as well. He's a smart guy with lots of physical tools, just was a bit raw bouncing around positions at school.

If Jones packs on some mass this offseason he should be a serviceable sub inside too. If we draft Bush @ 12 and a top safety @ 30 we'd be looking at a solid D next year (though I think Fant at @ 30 or a slight trade up for him would ignite the offense too).

Guam's picture

I would like to see Jones moved inside as well as his coverage skills leave much to be desired. He just plays more like an ILB than a safety. However the draft falls, I hope we add another safety and ILB as both are needed.

Handsback's picture

When Martinez was drafted, he was considered the best ILB for coverage by some scouts. He has proved his worth, and suspect he will do really well in that position this year. Another player like Bush or if Burks comes around, the middle of the field will be closed for business.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Martinez greatly improved his coverage in 2018 to a well above average level, actually better than that. It had been very poor.

He is definitely going to command some pretty good money in 2020, but I suspect it will be less than the amount that is tossed around.

PatrickGB's picture

Martinez had the knock of being pushed around by Oline players and not disengaging from them. More muscle helps. But technique is probably more important. A second year in the system and new assistant coach might help. I think this young man has a bright future. Burks?...I am not too sure about him.

Freezn's picture

New linebackers coaches that I believe will have our linebackers playing up to their potential

Johnblood27's picture

I like what I hear from Martinez, but I am cautiously optimistic about 15 lbs of muscle added. (net 7-8)

I sure hope that doesn't translate to more nagging injuries on tendons and ligaments.

Time will tell.

Skip greenBayless's picture

I just hope he can find a decent helmet that stays on his head. Either he has the world's biggest head or world's smallest helmet. He always looks strange wearing a helmet for some reason. Minor issues.

Skip

kevgk's picture

Please sign him Gute! He is a leader, uber reliable, and he helps the entire defense on the field. This is the home grown talent we need to lock up.

Packer Fan's picture

Martinez is a steady performer and reliable. People knock him because he doesn't have alot of splash plays. I was at the Tampa Bay game two years ago when they won in overtime with Jones taking it home on his only carry. In that game Tampa Bay was threatening on about the Packer 20 yard line. They executed a screen pass and had two blockers out front to get Martinez. Martinez knifed through the blockers and stopped the runner without getting a first down. That is what I hope Martinez will do more with a second year with Pettine. You need steady performers to compliment the stars you have. Perhaps he will take a next step and do more star work. lIt would be gratifying if he does and worthwhile to keep another four years.

Lphill's picture

Richardson gone, Greer Martini signed off the practice squad by the Vikings, are Martinez and Burks the only inside linebackers on the team?

Jonathan Spader's picture

Martini wasn't on GB's P.S. he was signed by the Vikongs after poaying in the AAF.

James Crawford is the only other ILB.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Martini will fit in perfectly in Minnesota if you know what I mean.

Skip

Ryan B Dub's picture

Hoping Martinez, and Fackrell continue to build on some successes, and can be retained as well. Time will tell.

Skip greenBayless's picture

I absolutely love Blake Martinez. He has the same exact mindset that Brett Favre had. Martinez like Favre is one of those rare players where they would seriously play the game for free. They love the game that much and it shows on the field. You can't hide passion and Martinez brings it every game since he's been drafted. Will probably turn out to be a top 5 all time pick by the legend Ted Thompson.

Skip

IceBowl's picture

Don't sleep on Martinez

2017 - 144 tackles - T1st in the league, all positions

2018 - 144 tackles - 2nd in the league, all positions.

Why he is not more respected is beyond me. Go Blake.

Old School's picture

He’s available and he’s productive. He’s Stanford Smart.

But people are like “he’s not a playmaker “....as though tackles aren’t important plays. Hint: yes , they are.

IceBowl's picture

Old School,

Shows what happens when people buy into "media" hype, or in this case "non-hype."

Crazy numbers, best tackle total for two years. And the Pack D was less than stellar overall, but Blake still shined. I'm sure the Pack and Pack faithful could see it though.

Linebackers used to be graded on tackles.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Because tackles are not the end all and be all to being an ILB. Preston Brown led the NFL in tackles in 2017 (6th with a whopping 139 tackles in 2016) and languished on the free agency market for a long time. But 1 sack and just 4 PDs combined for 2016 and 2017 told teams he was a one-dimensional player. Brown eventually signed for 3 yrs, $16.5M, but only got a $2.5M signing bonus, meaning he could be cut at any time.

Martinez improved from a 47 pass coverage grade in 2017 to 82 in 2018, per PFF, which was the biggest improvement in the NFL. I thought his run D slipped a little, but he looked like a far more complete ILB in 2018. It will be interesting to see what Gute does with Martinez.

Old School's picture

So a one-dimensional edge rusher who has more sacks or whatever but a fraction of the tackles is a more valuable than Martinez? More important? Isn't he the guy who wears the helmet and calls the defense?

Again, I'd urge people to consider the possibility that we tend to overvalue edge rushers.

wildbill's picture

Love Martinez but why wait until your contract year to get in better shape? If he loved football so much he would have done that two years ago. Just saying

Skip greenBayless's picture

wildbill, he's young. I am sure he came in tip top shape every single year. He just realized what he needed to do body wise now that he's been in the league for a couple years now to make that next step up. I have no doubt he wants to be the best linebacker in history and play every snap. That's his mindset. I can tell just from his words and how he speaks he's another Brett Favre but on defense. He's just a damn good football player and glad he's on our team. I am blown away at how some people look at this guy as average. I guarantee you Pettine loves him and the fact he can be counted on. Stanford smart as Old School said.

Skip

IceBowl's picture

wildbill,

His performance indicates he was in good shape. Really good shape. I am glad he wants better.

Can you get in better shape? :-)

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Yes, I could drop a few pounds. Then again, my livelihood isn't affected by those pounds.

"Can you get in better shape" is really a non sequitur.

IceBowl's picture

Thegreatreynoldo,

for "nor sequitur" do you mean literally or the comic?

dobber's picture

I'm aiming for the perfect shape: spherical. I'm well on my way...

Old School's picture

There's always a higher level. You have to be fit to be in the military. You have to be more fit to complete Airborne Training. The some guys are going to go to Ranger school, where they will realize they are not fit. Some will persevere until they are fit.

IceBowl's picture

Old School,

Nice. That was my point. But only some want to continue to be better, go farther.

To use your example, go from Ranger to Green Beret,

Hoooo Yhaaaaa.

Ryan B Dub's picture

Martinez needs to keep doing what he is doing, but he does need to get some turnovers. Picks, forced fumbles, and turn over on downs/force punts. He is closer to the cusp of greatness in the middle. Needs some help out of Burks, Jones, and whom ever they add.

carlos's picture

I love Martinez attitude and work ethic. Very intelligent and a good team guy who is a good football player.

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