Blake Martinez was not a household name among Green Bay Packers fans at the start of the 2017 regular season, but if you don’t know by now who this guy is, you’ve been sleeping under a rock.
If offensive coordinators haven’t taken notice of this guy, they are asleep at the wheel.
Not only does Martinez lead the Green Bay Packers in overall tackles, but we’ve seen him consistently play downhill with speed and a twitch that hasn’t been evident from any of the franchise’s inside linebackers in some time.
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We have to go back years to find someone who shows the type of toughness and smarts that’s been displayed by Martinez in the early going of this 2017 season.
Selected by the Packers in the fourth round (131st overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft, Martinez struggled to make a splash during his rookie season as he learned the complexities of Dom Capers’ defense.
But let’s flash forward to this season where Martinez has not only splashed, but he’s done a full-out cannonball into the children’s pool.
With 37 total tackles (26 solo, 11 assists), Martinez has consistently been around the football, making his way into offensive backfields to disrupt plays, and has been a leader in helping the Packers defense show vast improvements over last season.
Martinez started slowly in 2017, recording two tackles against the Seattle Seahawks in the season opener, but has built steam as we’ve progressed through Week 5.
He had five tackles and a sack of Matt Ryan in Week 2 at Atlanta and then made a huge jump in Week 3 at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. In that game, he had seven solo tackles and four assists. Blake Martinez followed that performance with five solo tackles and two assists against the Chicago Bears in Week 4.
With seven solo tackles and five assists last weekend against the Dallas Cowboys, Martinez found a way to fill and shoot gaps to slow the Cowboys’ vaunted running attack early in the game – setting a tone that would allow the Packers to get out of Dallas with their fourth win of the season.
If there’s one player who has carried his weight on the defense so far in 2017, it’s been Martinez.
The Stanford graduate is not flashy, nor a cement truck. He’s one of those sneaky quick linebackers who has been developing lateral speed and a player who continuously sniffs out the ball and makes plays.
As a player project, Blake Martinez is fast becoming not only noticeable on the field, but one of those players to watch. He’s been strong at the point of attack and has, at long last, given the Packers a presence in the middle of that defense.
When coupled with Jake Ryan (Jake and Blake) – another player who has shown flashes of stability in the middle – the Packers finally have a tandem they can point to and describe as solid.
Keeping him healthy will be a key for Green Bay as the season wears on. With more experience in this defense, Packers fans can look forward to Martinez becoming one of those unsung heroes who help the machine run smoothly.
Keep an eye on Martinez … he could be a good one for a long time to come.