The Green Bay Packers are a team defined by Aaron Rodgers and their offense, but it is a defensive player who is earning some individual honors for his excellent start to the 2018 season.
Pro Football Focus has compiled “All-Pro” teams for the first four weeks of the season, and linebacker Blake Martinez is the one player they listed on their equivalent of a first-team unit. Last year, Martinez finished in a three-way tie for the NFL’s lead in total tackles, matching Preston Brown of the Bills and Joe Schobert of the Browns with 144. However, Martinez had the most solo tackles of the group with 96, and also the most pass breakups with nine.
This season, the former Stanford linebacker sits in a tie for tenth overall in tackles with 34, including one sack. However, he has seemingly taken a big step forward in his coverage abilities, as PFF notes:
Martinez is asked to wear a lot of hats in the Packers DB-heavy scheme and so far he’s delivered. He’s made nine stops in coverage this year, the second-most of any linebacker in the league and has broken up three of his 14 targets.
Joining Martinez on the first team is Seattle’s Bobby Wagner, who has three first-team All-Pro honors from the AP. But Martinez sees his name on this group ahead of Luke Kuechly, who earned an honorable mention (PFF’s equivalent of a second-team).
The Packers did land three players on the list in that honorable mention section, however. Two names should come as no surprise to Packers fans: left tackle David Bakhtiari, who has been a rock on the blind side, and rookie punter JK Scott, whose hang time and net punting average are among the very best in the NFL.
However, the third name might be a bit of a surprise: safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who comes in as an alternate behind Seattle’s Earl Thomas. Although Clinton-Dix has had a few lapses in coverage and reading routes, he does have an interception in three straight games, and his overall performance against Buffalo was one of his best games since his 2016 Pro Bowl season.