LB Blake Martinez
December 21, 2020
Q: I know you guys tried to do it last night with a combination of blitzes or just contain them up front, but how can you generate a better pass rush as a defense, especially to complement how you guys were stopping the run fairly well last night, and a lot of your game plan was working. But how can you get to the passer and get to the quarterback so that you can disrupt them and not let that happen?
A: I think, overall, it’s just dialing in on your one-eleven. In the game plan, whatever play is called, making sure the frontend is working with the backend. Us covering long enough, or if I’m blitzing, us getting to the passer quick enough and not allowing him to be able to see his third or fourth progression. Then being able to work together when you are rushing with the other guys that are in the rush as well to make sure that you’re getting the right rush plan down, the right game plan, the rush plan for that given week, to make sure that you get to the spot or set up the other guy next to you to be able to get to the quarterback in time.
Q: In a way, were the Browns like the perfect appetizer for the Ravens? I think they’re one and three in the NFL in rushing yards. Can some of the game plan that you had to stop the run against the Browns carry over to the Ravens or no?
A: Definitely. I think every week, we have a certain kind of understanding for a team. What they’re really good at, what their strengths are. Then for us as a defense, we always pride ourselves on being able to stop the run. We’ve gotten better at it each and every week. But I think it more comes back to kind of the cliché thing of it comes back to us doing our job on every single play. Being in the right gap, leverage in the formations, understanding the offensive formation to being able to stop the play. I’ll always give us the upper hand if we’re in those situations and we’re in the right spots.
Q: We probably won’t talk to you again for the rest of the week, so how hard is it to be a linebacker against Lamar Jackson?
A: Oh yeah, he’s one of those special guys, and I think everyone knows it. I kind of got a taste of it early before he was the MVP Lamar Jackson. We played him in the preseason last year. He was spinning, doing crazy stuff, jumping over people and we’re like, ‘wait, hold up, who is this guy?’ Obviously, he had his amazing season after that. It’s one of those things you obviously as a competitor, for me, you want to go against guys like that. But it just adds the extra heightened awareness to make sure that you’re extremely perfect in all fundamental aspects of your game going into that.
Q: Just big picture here. You guys were right in the thick of the playoffs, controlled your own destiny two weeks ago. Now you’ve lost to the last two teams, playoff caliber teams. What has that shown you? Was this team maybe two weeks ago a little ahead of schedule and now realizes that maybe the better teams are a struggle for you guys? Where do you look at this?
A: No, I think every single week, we know we can hang with anyone. I think each and every week, we go back to the film and look at it and are super critical of it. It came down to winning in the key situations. Third down, red zone for us as a defense. It was little things that we went over in practice, and we just weren’t in the right spots or covering the right people. We just kind of had our own little mental mistakes going into those situations and gave up easy points.
Q: When Joe Judge says after the game, ‘we weren’t going to win that game kicking field goals,’ you can take that two ways. You can say he had ultimate faith in his defense that if they gamble and don’t, you guys can hold them back there deep inside Cleveland territory. Or you can say, the Browns scored 40 points in each of their last two games. He didn’t think you guys could hold them down, so he knew that he needed a lot of points. Which way did you look at it?
A: I looked at it the way of you have three kind of groups that go out there, special teams, the offense and defense. I think it’s the complementary football. He trusted in our complementary football to go out there, execute, whether it was them going and getting that fourth down and end up scoring, or if it didn’t happen, all of a sudden our defense would go out there. We would do what we needed to do. Then obviously, our punt return, once it led to that, would do what they do to all of a sudden give us that field position and advantage across the game. I think that’s the type of coach that you want, the same type of mindset that you want going into a game. We just didn’t execute completely across those three facets of the game.
Q: I don’t know how honest you can be on this, or if there is an honest, it’s a conjecture. If I asked you a few days ago, I guarantee it you can hold the Browns to 20 points, take it or leave it, what would you have said?
A: Me, as a defensive person, I don’t want them to score any points. But no, I feel that’s something you go into a game and you want to hold them as minimal as possible. But every team makes plays and has those moments. I’d rather you tell me you hold them to 20 points and we score 21 points.
Q: I’m not telling you that. You don’t get that. You get 20 points, take it or leave it, that’s it.
A: I feel like I need more information on that one.
Q: Tonight, they announce the Pro Bowlers. What do you think your chances are? That’s a really tough position in the NFC. You’ve seen that before. Bobby Wagner, Fred Warner, Jaylon Smith, Devin White. There are a lot of guys there. What do you think of your chances and how disappointed would you be if you don’t make it tonight?
A: Every single year, you have individual goals for yourself, obviously, especially as a player in the NFL at my position. Any position, you want Pro Bowl, All-Pro, for me, lead the league in tackles, all these types of things. It’s just one of those things that if it happens, it happens. If not, it just adds that extra chip on my shoulder to keep going at it each and every day to get better to be able to get to that position for next year.
Q: How gratifying would it be, though? Is it sort of a that validation that, ‘ok, I know I’m doing it but everyone else is actually noticing’?
A: I feel like every single moment, you kind of have that want to have someone kind of have that praise, I guess, and recognition for yourself. But at the end of the day, it comes down to myself. As long as I know I’m playing the way I want to play, at a high level, that’s really all that matters for me.