By Craig J. Santucci @NYGiantsRush
The New York Giants have won four super bowls with Hall of Fame and All World pass rushers and linebackers.
Over the last nine years, The New York Giants defense has struggled. The pass rush hasn’t been stout enough. The cornerbacks have not been good enough, the linebackers haven’t been fast enough or physical enough.
In 2020, the New York Giants have signed inside linebacker Blake Martinez. For the last 4 years, Blake Martinez has filled the shoes of the legendary Green Bay Packers linebacker AJ Hawk perfectly.
Overlooked and Underappreciated:
Martinez is a durable player at one of the most brutal, physically demanding positions on the field. And like Eli Manning, durability is consistently overlooked and often dismissed. Without Clay Mathews Jr. the Packers fans looked at Martinez as the heart of the defense. He even wore AJ Hawk’s number.
Like Cowboys linebacker, Sean Lee, Martinez is a tackling machine. Over the last three years, Blake Martinzes has 443 tackles. That is an amazing feat for a linebacker in 2020. While some folks will try to convince you that it’s a passing league, 443 tackles is 147 tackles a year, every year for three years straight. Someone must be running the ball. However, being the anchor on the Packers defense sadly isn’t enough, the fans want Luke Kueckley. No one is Luke Kueckley.
The Packers defense is rated 23rd against the run. Martinez has little help. He scrapes and sheds blocks with the best backers in the league and with 147 tackles a year and 8 sacks over the last two years, he finishes. He has a nose for the ball and plays great between the tackles. The Packers are about to find out what they lost.
The Giants ranked 20th against the run. And even though some of the Giants fan-base is obsessed with a linebacker than can play the pass, it’s obvious that new head coach Joe Judge has different plans. He needs to stop the bleeding. Alec Ogletree was brought here to be a run-stopping field general, but after 7 years in the league, it was obvious Ogletree was not the same player he was in 2016. His best year in the league. He had 80 tackles in 2019 and 93 in 2018. Would you sign up for an increase of 67 more tackles and a handful of sacks?
Stop the Bleeding: 19 Rushing Touchdowns
Blake Martinez was a 4th round pick from Stanford and is a much younger and more skilled linebacker than Alec Ogletree. Martinez was not signed to cover, he was signed to stop the 19 rushing touchdowns (114 points) that were given up. That is the 4th highest total in the league.
The Packers, on the other hand, signed often injured, Christian Kirksey to replace Martinez. He was recently dismissed by Cleveland…Cleveland!
Antonio Pierce, Pepper Johnson, Chase Blackburn, Gary Reasons, Kawika Mitchell…none of them were great in coverage, yet they are all winners.