Through 10 games this season, it’s easy to love everything that Blake Martinez has brought to the Giants’ defense.
His affinity for tackling everything in sight hasn’t changed from his days in Green Bay. Of course, he’s the co-leader in that department at 96 combined tackles with Bears LB Roquan Smith. And you can see that the captain of the defense is extremely vocal each game, communicating with his teammates and truly being the anchor in the middle of the field.
But there is one part of Martinez’s game that was knocked the second GM Dave Gettleman signed him: coverage skills. There were a few reasons Alec Ogletree was cut from the Giants, but a main one was his inability to cover tight ends and receivers streaking across the field. With the Packers, Martinez had the same stigma, though he constantly said that he was working on that area of his game.
It looks like it’s working.
Thanks to Pro Football Focus, we can see Martinez’s coverage grade of 72.9 is one of the best among starting linebackers in the league. For linebackers who have played 80 percent of snaps this year, Martinez’s grade ranks seventh. He also has a modest 80.0 NFL passer rating against, and has one interception as well.
And for those who also might say Martinez isn’t dropping back into coverage a lot, PFF has 346 of his 667 snaps on defense being coverage snaps. So the sample size is large and proves that he is a reliable option to drop back.
In all facets of his game, Martinez is the middle linebacker the Giants needed. In fact, one could say that he’s their best option at the position since Antonio Pierce. Along with James Bradberry, these two free agent pickups have been two of the best signings across the league this season.
But there’s more work to be done and Martinez is aware of that. The stats aren’t complete until the end of the regular season, and the Giants are still in the hunt for the NFC East title race. He’s been phenomenal already, but Martinez is still working with the rest of his teammates at getting better each week, including during the bye.
“Every single guy wants to get better every single day,” Martinez told reporters on Wednesday. “Everyone is trying to the best of their ability to improve on their weaknesses and make their strengths stronger. It’s just been awesome to see that continual improvement. ... You’re starting to see the type of team we can be when everybody is doing what they need to do on every play.”