The New York Giants had a top-ten defense in the NFL last season. The team made a couple of key moves in the 2020 offseason to propel their defense into being one of the league’s best units. The Giants allowed only 22.3 points per game defensively, which ranked ninth-best in the NFL.
Two key free agency additions made their marks and revamped the Giants’ defense: cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez. The Giants saw their newly-acquired cornerback, Bradberry, make his first career Pro Bowl in a season where he led the NFL in forced incompletions (PFF).
Blake Martinez, however, did not receive any recognition for a stellar 2020 campaign. Martinez has never made a Pro Bowl in his NFL career. He was listed as the sixteenth-best linebacker in the league by PFF this offseason, but Giants fans feel Blake Martinez deserves more credit.
Blake Martinez stats and highlights
The New York Giants enjoyed watching Blake Martinez have a “breakout” season in 2020. Though it was a career year for the five-year veteran, it was anything but a “breakout.” Martinez has been one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL for a few seasons now. Blake Martinez leads the NFL in total tackles over the last four seasons.
Martinez has racked up an insane 594 combined tackles since 2017. He led the NFL in combined tackles in 2017 and has posted 140 or more combined tackles in every season since. Last year, Blake Martinez totaled 151 combined tackles in his first season with the Giants. He also added nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and notched 57 defensive stops and forced two fumbles for the Giants in 2020 (PFF).
If there is one weakness to his game, Blake Martinez does struggle at times in pass coverage. But the Giants’ defensive schematics were excellent in 2020 and played to their players’ strengths. Martinez was not asked to play in coverage that often, masking any deficiencies he might have in that aspect of his game. Patrick Graham allowed Martinez to be a pass-rushing and run-stuffing linebacker. That clever New York Giants scheme allowed Blake Martinez to play to his strengths and emerge as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.