NFL.com picks Blake Martinez as Giants' 2021 MVP
The Giants defense was impressive in 2020. The unit finished ninth in points allowed (22.3) and 12th in yards allowed (349.3), a significant improvement from its NFL rankings the previous season. The defense was most impressive in the red zone, surrendering a touchdown on just 50.8 percent of opponents' trips inside the 20, the second-best mark in the league.
Several players had a big role in the defense's performance last season, one of which was linebacker Blake Martinez.
NFL.com recently predicted who the MVP would be for each team across the league, and for Big Blue, that honor belonged to the middle linebacker.
As NFL.com's Dan Hanzus writes, "Blake Martinez was one of the most unfortunate Pro Bowl snubs of 2020. The Giants signed the former Packer to a three-year deal in March of last year and he played a major role in New York's defensive turnaround under Joe Judge. The middle linebacker played 97 percent of the defensive snaps and finished the season with 151 total tackles (third in the NFL), three sacks, nine tackles for loss, six QB hits, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and five passes defended."
Hanzus went on to highlight Martinez's leadership role on the Giants defense, referring to him as "Big Blue's Glue Guy."
Martinez has been one of the most consistent players in the league over the last four years. Since 2017, the middle linebacker has registered at least 144 tackles every season, while racking up the most total tackles in the NFL during that span.
His 75.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus was the sixth-highest among all linebackers last season.
Last month, Giants legend and two-time Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck joined Big Blue Kickoff Live to discuss the Giants' front seven heading into the 2021 season. When it came to Martinez, Tuck could not help but compare him to Antonio Pierce, the anchor of the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl-winning defense.
View photos of linebacker Blake Martinez in his first season with the Giants.
21 Questions: State of the offensive line
With the calendar flipped to July, Giants.com asks 21 important questions heading into the team's 2021 training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
For 21 days, a member of the Giants.com crew will answer one question about the roster, coaching staff, schedule, and much more.
Lance Medow: As it stands now, there are likely three starting positions up for grabs on the offensive line: both guard spots and right tackle. It's fair to say Andrew Thomas is the left tackle and Nick Gates has a good grasp at center after starting all 16 games at that position in 2020 for the first time in his career. Last season, Will Hernandez started seven games at left guard before having to battle COVID-19. He was replaced by Shane Lemieux, who started nine games, but his sample size is relatively small. The Giants also brought in veteran Zach Fulton after parting ways with Kevin Zeitler. Fulton has experience at right guard and left guard and has started at least 12 games in six of his seven seasons in the NFL.
With Cam Fleming joining the Broncos this off-season, Matt Peart has a shot to win the starting right tackle job, but he only played 15% of the offensive snaps last season and Nate Solder returns after opting out. While Solder hasn't played right tackle since his rookie year in 2011, he's a polished veteran, who has been in the league for a decade. Regardless of who wins the right tackle job, the Giants should be in a good position at swing tackle. The offensive line is far from a finished product, given some competition at various spots, but in all likelihood, New York will be relying on a youth movement with potentially three second year players in the starting lineup.
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands.
The Tackling Machine: Blake Martinez 2020 Highlights
Check out the video below to watch highlights from linebacker and defensive co-captain Blake Martinez's first season with the Giants.