LB Blake Martinez
December 28, 2020
Q: Obviously, you and the rest of the defense take great pride in stopping the run. After what happened yesterday, how much does that hurt you guys? What did you see as the main issue yesterday in defending the run?
A: When we went into this week, we knew we had to be gap sound, assignment sound, just because they use every aspect of their offense. Obviously, their quarterback is able to run, running back is able to run. They are able to do multiple things. Motions, shifts, all these types of ways to out-leverage you. When you went back and looked at the film, it basically just came down to assignment football. The way I look at it was you have 11 on 11. One guy has to be holding the ball, so there’s 10 against 11 to block. If we can fit it right, one guy should be free and we just didn’t do our assignment on each one of those plays to be able to have that free guy being the advantage. We didn’t make the plays when they came to us.
Q: I don’t mean to sound like a smart aleck, but there are people who look at the record and say 5-10 and you can possibly finish 6-10, no team deserves to be in the playoffs at 6-10. How do you react to something like that?
A: I don’t think the record is the biggest thing to look at. I think you look at the team and how they progressed throughout the season. How they are improving, the style of play they play with. Once you get in the playoffs, it really becomes 0-0. You continue to win, you keep going. You can be a team that’s 16-0 and lose the first game, all of the sudden you’re out. You can be a team that’s, like you said, 6-10, and win all the way through and you keep going. At that point, once you’re in that position, the best team wins.
Q: Your head coach mentioned after the game yesterday that he thought you guys made defensive adjustments in the second half to help slow them down and that he thought you should’ve made them sooner. When something is not going your way as a defense, whether it’s defending the pass against Cleveland or defending the run against Baltimore, how much are you urging the coaches and saying, ‘listen, I see this, it’s not working’? You guys spend so much time during the week preparing for a specific plan, you want to stick with it at least for a full half to make sure it might stick.
A: Overall, throughout the year, especially with Pat (Graham), he has been super open for communication. I think being able to listen to us and understand what we’re seeing out there, or what’s difficult for us on any given play within the first half compared to the second half, I think when it came down to it, kind of going back to the first thing I was saying, guys were in the right spots to start the play and then all of the sudden they were able to leverage that player or group of players. Now they all of the sudden had that advantage on that play. You couldn’t scrape over the top or get over the offensive linemen or the fullback, whoever it ended up being. It allowed them to just have that open running lane.
Q: What do you think about your team’s playoff chances at this point?
A: It goes back to the same thing I have been saying every week. You just go about each and every week the same that we have been doing since the start of the season. Just making sure we get better. Going to work Monday, making improvements that we need to from the previous game. Just focus on what we can do as a team to be better than we were last week. Be better than we were to start the season. As long as we’re doing that and showing it the following Sunday, whatever ends up happening, happens. We’re ready to go and we’ll do the same thing if we get another chance to re-focus in and get back to work the following Monday after that.
Q; How nice is it to at least have that carrot dangling right there? I know you don’t want to think about it, but you know that it’s a possibility that after this week if you take care of your business, then it’s at least a possibility.
A: Our coaches hit it best. They said, you always want to have meaningful December football games. Obviously, this game will be in January, so meaningful January games. To be able to have that, every competitor, especially in the NFL, wants to have that opportunity.
Q: Two years ago, you were on a team that won six games. Your coach got fired and you went 6-9-1 and finished third in the division. Do you feel fortunate to be in it with five wins? When you win five or six games, it’s usually what happened to you two years ago in Green Bay.
A: I think things kind of panned out the way they did. Obviously, we have the opportunities ahead of us. You have to take advantage of it. I think that’s the biggest thing, kind of finishing the season off. Doing whatever we can to take advantage of what’s presented to us.
Q: Can you paint any kind of picture for us? Coach Judge told us you guys were on the train when those two games came in last night. Were you guys high fiving, were you celebrating that you have a chance still and that Week 17 was going to matter?
A: We knew the results. I think that’s going back to the type of team that we are. We knew exactly what we were going to do the following week, no matter what the situation was. Obviously, it added that component of a meaningful January game coming up now instead of not. I think that was a big moment. I think obviously coach Judge pulled us together once we got off the buses and just said, ‘hey, full focus on Dallas.’ Meaningful game, get after it and let’s get going this week.
Q: Is it nice to face a team without a quarterback who can run laps around just about everybody else on the field?
A: Yeah, it definitely makes it a little easier game plan wise. Dallas, across the board, has amazing talent once again. It’s going to be a tough task for us to stop their run game, their pass game. They’re starting to kind of fire on all cylinders. You kind of want to be that team that doesn’t let them start the game off hot and be comfortable.
Q: Do you feel like your defense matches up better to what’s probably more of what people think of as a traditional offense? With a passing quarterback and a big time running back. These last few games where you have been playing sort of new wave college run and shoot type of teams.
A: I think any game we go in to, we feel like we have the ability to defend anyone. Any given Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, all these games are on different days this year, it’s just all about execution. I think as long as we go out there, understand the game plan, understand where we need to be, what spots to defend in the pass game and the run game, we can go out there and play against anyone.
Q: I think you might’ve said it twice now. Were you saying that guys on defense were not in the right position at the start of a lot of plays in the first half? Is that what you said?
A: Yeah, so basically depending on the certain defensive call, scheme, whatever you want to call it, on any given play, certain guys had to leverage certain players. Whether it’s the number two receiver, number three, end guy on the line of scrummage, whatever it ended up being, all of the sudden they started doing their shifts and motions, all the stuff they did pre-snap, which then changed your certain alignment pre-snap. At that point, once you weren’t in the spot, all of the sudden they snapped the ball. Now you’re two spots behind instead of being in the right spot to start.