Prior to the start of the 2020 season, the New York Giants were deemed “the worst team in the NFL” by the prognosticators. The results of the first five weeks proved that statement to be true as the Giants were winless with no hope in sight. However since that point, the defense has played a major role in the team’s turnaround and the unsung hero has been Blake Martinez.
You can make a legitimate argument that Martinez is a strong candidate for All-Pro honors this season. It is rare to find him out of position to make a play on the field. He is just one of those players who seems to be around the football all the time.
Blake Martinez: Unsung Hero of the New York Giants Defense in 2020
Leadership Was Missing From the Defensive Unit
Martinez is a tackling machine that leads the Giants in tackles with 140 (80 solo) with one game to play. However, his biggest contribution has been providing leadership that has changed the mindset inside the locker room, on the practice field and in games. The Giants were desperate to find a team leader that held his teammates and coaching staff accountable.
Giants fans should be outraged that more attention hasn’t been given to Martinez’s outstanding play. There are only a small number of inside linebackers who have played the position better this season. His versatility as a three-down defender has been overlooked for far too long. Martinez may have been the steal of last off-season’s free agent class.
Blake Martinez Filled the Void
The Giants had a big void to fill at the inside linebacker position this past off-season. Alec Ogletree was a major disappointment during his tenure with the Giants following a trade with the Los Angeles Rams. Ogletree’s declining production and inconsistent play called for an upgrade at the position. The Giants brought Martinez in to lead by example and he has been nothing short of being sensational in that category.
Coming over from the Green Bay Packers as a free agent, you expected a bit of a learning curve for Martinez. This would give him time to acclimate himself to his new surroundings. Instead, Martinez has given the Giants defense an injection of much-needed adrenaline. He grasped the new defensive scheme quickly and became the defensive signal-caller in the huddle all before the season-opener.
Martinez is great at anticipating where opposing play-makers might try to go to gain some yards. His reads off the snap allows him to weave through heavy traffic to make a tackle. Giants head coach Joe Judge believes Martinez has become an influencing figure for his young (Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown) linebackers. The group is raw and inexperienced, but very talented. His guidance could mold them into contributors for the Giants in 2021.
Giants Have a Rich Tradition at the Linebacker Position
Blake Martinez has brought the linebacker position back to prominence within the makeup of the Giants defense. This franchise has rich tradition at the position with Hall-of-Famers such as Sam Huff, Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor that come to mind. Each could defend the run, rush the quarterback or drop into pass coverage to protect their side of the field. But that type of player has been missing from the defensive unit for the past decade.
The Giants defense aren’t a finished product by any stretch as there are holes that need to be filled. No argument on how well the unit defends the run, but pass defense has been an issue all season.
However, the Giants defensive unit is on track on becoming dominant once again. And it comes as no surprise that Martinez has been the driving force.
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