Linebacker Blake Martinez
September 9, 2021
Q: Now that kind of all the ‘hay is in the barn’ in terms of the preparation for the season, you guys know what you have on the defense personnel-wise, you know what you bring back, you know what you added and what you accomplished last year, so how high are the expectations for you guys as a defense?
A: I think for us, I think it’s kind of the whole thing of there’s a lot of potential there. I think across the board you look at all the positions, all the players, (there are) really great players across the board. I think it comes down to us, like you said. All the preparation in training camp into this week – Wednesday, Thursday practice and Friday leading into the game is making sure we have all of us on the same page doing our job. If we can do that, we have a bunch of guys that can go make plays and when you do that you can be one of those top defenses in the league.
Q: Do you see that on both sides of the ball?
A: Oh, yeah, 100 percent. I think you look at both sides, you see when the offense breaks the huddle the amount of guys out there that can go and make plays, go make special plays. It’s incredible and I think it once again comes down to executing those plays and if we do, we can be something special.
Q: You’ve covered (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley), probably bumped him, maybe tackled him – how has he looked?
A: I mean, going against him makes me even better every day. That’s kind of the mindset for both of us. He’s looked good going against me. Excited for him when he gets that chance to go out there.
Q: Does he look ready?
A: I don’t know, I’m not an expert on that aspect, so I’ll kind of leave it to the medical people. But his quads look ginormous, so that’s kind of my component on making sure Saquon’s good to go.
Q: Has this defense developed the trust in (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Patrick Graham that he will always kind of come up with the solution for whatever is presented?
A: Yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing. I think the best thing Pat does is he communicates really well with us throughout the week, even during the games obviously as well, of what we think is good, what we think is bad, what we should take out, what we should keep in. It makes it a lot easier to go out there and play for him because you know he’s going to allow us to mold the defense in a way that we know we can execute.
Q: Has he been, for lack of a better word, more comfortable this year with the players and with himself?
A: Yeah, I think it’s kind of the first year to second year type of thing, especially a decent amount of guys coming back from that first year on the defensive side at least. I think he can trust us and it’s just growing our awareness within the defense and he’s now able to go from the 101-type of classes to the 201-type of classes.
Q: When you play against a veteran quarterback, like (Broncos Quarterback Teddy) Bridgewater, how much more do you have to check your coverage in a scheme because he does, versus like a first- or second-year QB?
A: No, definitely. I think he’s able to read defenses, see what we’re in. I think it just comes down to us obviously executing what we’re doing, but also trying to disguise as much as we possibly can to not allow him to see what we’re in as fast and keep him guessing.
Q: Is that standard across the board though, like veteran to rookie QB? Or are there young guys who are really good at that, too?
A: I think it all depends on the given individual player. They can be a rookie or a 22-year vet. I think you kind of go through each game and see what they’re kind of going through that given Sunday and then you kind of want to keep him off of their perfect game kind of thing.
Q: Is there any reason why this defense shouldn’t get off to a fast start? There’s a lot of veterans, you guys are healthy, guys know the scheme – any reason why you guys shouldn’t start fast?
A: No, I think for us it’s just going out there and executing. I think we’ve done a pretty good job as of late. I think the big thing for us was we go back to those joint practices and wanting to start fast, and I think that, as negative as that could’ve been that day, it was a positive thing for us taking it and knowing that we don’t want that to happen continuously throughout the season.
Q: When Pat has talked to us, one of the things that he has kind of harped on is he says the one thing that concerns him is the run defense. I know (Former Giants Defensive Tackle) Dalvin’s (Tomlinson) gone, but I mean, is it that big of an issue or what?
A: I think at the end of the day it keeps going back to the execution aspect. I think we have all the right guys and it’s just coming down to understanding your assignment. Whether you’re frontside, backside, knowing where the running back is, reading the offensive linemen, the run keys and going and making plays.
Q: This is kind of obvious, but have you talked at all as a team about how this organization the last few years has struggled to win early – the first game, the first couple of games. Is that anything you guys have talked about or is it just obvious that’s what you’re trying to do?
A: I think everyone goes into every game wanting to win. I think it’s that aspect of starting off fast and I think we have the perfect kind of situation this season to start fast and start the fastest. Obviously, we play our game on Sunday and then we play instantly on Thursday, so it allows us to kind of change that perspective that has happened recently.
Q: Anything going against (Broncos Offensive Coordinator) Pat Shurmur’s offense – I guess you’ve played him at some point. Anything specifically about him that’s challenging to the defense?
A: I mean, he does multiple things. He has (the) ability to change up what he’s doing, whether it’s quarterback under center, quarterback in the gun. I think he keeps you second-guessing at moments and you just have to be able to read your keys and understand what they’re trying to get done whatever formation they’re in.
Q: I think people look at these two teams and say, Broncos and Washington, two really good defenses. You guys have an offense that hasn’t been on the field together a lot. People look at this and say, ‘Maybe these are going to have to be two low-scoring games and the Giants are going to have to win on defense.’ How much, when you’re going against a team that has a really good defense, do you put it on your shoulders and say, ‘Hey, we have to limit their offense because their defense is really darn good, too?’
A: I think that’s some part of the aspect when you go into games like that. But I think overall, I think we have such high expectations for ourselves and we want to go out there and be the game wreckers and do things that allow our offense to have that much easier of a game. I think as long as we go do that, that’s our mindset no matter what team we’re playing, what day we’re playing. But yeah, it’s definitely a thing we think about.