LB Blake Martinez
September 10, 2020
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve learned about Devante Downs over the past month?
A: It’s kind of a funny story, my wife’s brother played with him in college. So I kind of got a early kind of synopsis of him just personality wise. I knew he was a great guy. Football wise, he has kind of shown up every single day. Whatever it is, run, pass, blitzing, communication wise, it’s been awesome to work with him this camp.
Q: Earlier in training camp you had talked about trying to learn this defense, trying to become the guy that was the calming factor for the group. Where are you in the process, and how comfortable are you entering Week 1?
A: I feel really comfortable moving in this week. Pat’s done a great job installing throughout training camp and all the stuff we’ve put in this week to get ready for the game on Monday. It’s made it pretty easy to be that calm, cooling factor for the group. Obviously, there are some guys that are starting for the first time, it’s going to be a big component for me to be able to do that for the game.
Q: Joe Judge was talking yesterday, and we were asking him about game planning for game week. A lot of attention always goes to how much does the quarterback get involved. He made a point that he wants to be really in sync with all of his signal callers. He included you obviously and then across the board for special teams. I’m just curious, for you on game week, is that something new for you? That you would kind of be involved, that the coaches would bounce ideas off of you. What you like, what you don’t like. I’m just curious what that process has been like for you with Pat and obviously Joe.
A: I had Pat my third year, as you guys know. He kind of brought that to the system I was in previously, so I kind of got used to it. Having meetings and things like that to kind of go over anything that’s confusing or anything that’s doing really well. Random feedback and stuff like that. I’ve been used to it. It’s just been awesome to have and moving forward keeping that going.
Q: Is it an interesting situation going into Week 1 where this is the first time? I would imagine in Week 4 you kind of have a better idea of what you have a good handle on as a group, what you don’t. Now you are going into Week 1, what was that conversation like? Do you break out your list and say alright here’s what I think from three weeks ago?
A: I think that’s the tough part right now. Obviously, we don’t have preseason. Normally you can kind of get little things here and there just off what guys are doing, at least this year. Going into this, it was kind of like Joe Judge has always said these four weeks is all fundamentals and situational football. At that point, it’s just focus on what we can control and what we can do every given play and execute it as much as we can.
Q: What did you think of the energy of today’s practice. It seemed like Joe kind of huddled you guys up and almost made you start over. Is that kind of how it went down?
A: It was one of the moments where we didn’t come out the right way and we needed to kind of refocus and get things going again. We did that and had to bounce back and show our resolve and our ability to adapt. As a team, understand what we’re doing wrong and come back and fix it.
Q: How rare is that? Have you ever been at a practice in the NFL where you had to kind of reboot?
A: That was definitely the first time. It was really cool how everybody took it in a positive way. It wasn’t kind of like here we go, why are we doing this. It was just like, hey, this is what we need to fix, we need to make sure we get this right. I think we all understand how big this first week is to kind of set a statement for ourselves as a team and what we want to be moving throughout this season.
Q: What’s it like playing for a head coach who is in his first season? What have you gotten from him? What do you think that he’s tried to relay to you guys as a team?
A: Ever since the first time that I’ve had a team meeting with Coach Judge, been in the same room as Coach judge, whether it’s zoom or actually in our facility, to me, it’s never seemed like he’s a first-year head coach. Every single day he has come with certain things fundamental wise, situational, every position he is able to coach individually, as a group. You feel like he knows so much about football. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve gotten from this. I’ve gotten so much better as a player in this past month of training camp than I ever have. In the ability to understand why we’re doing certain drills, how it’s going to incorporate into the game. Just overall as a player, just my awareness every given down whether it’s first, second, third down to know what’s coming and what to expect.
Q: Are you healthy? Is this injury that you have been dealing with going to prevent you from playing on Monday? How are you feeling going into the game?
A: I feel good. I practiced today. Keep taking it one day at a time. Getting ready for Monday.
Q: Given the fact that Joe Judge has never been a head coach before. Is there anything that has surprised you about him, working with him for the first time? What has stood out?
A: I would say the biggest surprise for me was, obviously like you said, first-year head coach. You kind of wonder how they are going to be. Are they going to try and be something different? Change things up all the time, whatever you want to say. All over the place, but he never was. It was always, hey, this is how I’m going to be every single day. There was no switching up. It wasn’t alright if you are the star player or you are an undrafted free agent, he was the same way to every single person. If you were doing it wrong, you knew you were doing it wrong and he was going to tell you in front of everybody no matter what your status was. I think that was as big surprise to me and it was awesome to have. It shows how he wants the team from top to bottom to be.