Don’t get Blake Martinez wrong, he wasn’t happy about much of anything after the Green Bay Packers closed this past season with a dud of a performance in the finale at Detroit to finish with a 7-9 record.
But no one will ever be able to take one thing away from him in 2017: the second-year linebacker led the NFL in tackles.
It was his position coach, Scott McCurley, who informed him of the news after all the Week 17 games came to a close.
“He showed me a picture of the tackle stats and stuff to just congratulate me,” Martinez said.
And then the next day, McCurley was let go as assistant linebackers coach.
“I texted him after I heard the news; I was wondering what to say and how to go about it,” Martinez said. “I just said, ‘Hey, I heard the news and am extremely sorry to hear that.’ He just came back and said, ‘Hey, it’s part of the business. That’s what happens.’ I just told him you helped me tremendously these last two years just growing as a player, understanding the game of football that much more.”
McCurley had three players under his purview, and one of them led the league in tackles. Martinez finished in a three-way tie for the NFL tackles lead with Bills linebacker Preston Brown and Browns linebacker Joe Schobert. Each finished with 144 tackles.
Only one Packers defensive player was on the field for more snaps than Martinez was this past season. He played 979 of the 1,052 plays. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix led the team once again, but the big news was he finally missed a play – eight of them, to be exact. He played in 1,044 snaps a year after he played all 1,236, including the playoffs. Clinton-Dix was taken out of the game in Week 4 against the Bears and sat the final eight plays because the game was out of reach. It ended a streak of 2,033 straight snaps.
“It’s definitely tough not making the playoffs and doing that type of thing,” Martinez said of his season. “Obviously, I have two sets of goals – season goals, team goals of going to the Super Bowl, winning the Super Bowl. Then individual goals, and that was one of my individual goals, to lead the league in tackles. It’s just something I’m going to use to propel me into next season.”
One other noteworthy item as it pertained to playing time: cornerback Davon House will receive a $500,000 bonus for playing in more than 60 percent of the Packers’ defensive snaps. He could have gotten another $250,000 had he topped the 70 percent mark.
Below are the snap counts on defense from the 2017 season, including playoffs. For comparison, here are last year’s defensive totals.
Total defensive snaps: 1,052