Although he didn’t name any names (Dom Capers), linebacker Blake Martinez was critical of the 2017 version of the Green Bay Packers’ defense. Without directly being so.
This week, Martinez praised the Packers’ new defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine. In that roundabout way he was also being critical of Capers and some of his own teammates.
Pettine reached out to Martinez, who seems to be turning into a defensive leader, soon after he was hired. Martinez highlighted several points from their discussion.
“Just his need and want of having organization throughout every single part, making sure there’s no mental errors, no missed assignments, any of that,” Martinez said. “He was going to be strict on it. He wasn’t going to let anything fly, if you’re a Pro Bowler or a rookie coming in. I think that was kind of the cool stance hearing from him and talking to him about that because that was one of my things that I wanted to voice my opinion on, just making sure everyone is on the right page at the right time and nothing is confused.”
Essentially, both Pettine and Martinez feel the Packers’ defense lacked organization and committed too many mental errors and missed too many assignments in 2017.
The fact that Martinez mentions that Pro Bowlers and rookies will be held to the same accountability standards is music to our ears. This isn’t the first time accountability — or a lack thereof — has come up in relation to last year’s defense. Former Packers cornerback Damarious Randall was openly critical of Capers not holding players accountable immediately after the season ended.
That’s certainly part of what got him booted out of town. Don’t name names.
In terms of who this message might be designed for, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix comes immediately to mind. A 2016 Pro Bowler, Clinton-Dix was subpar in 2017 and that’s being kind. If you want to look for a guy who made consistent mental errors and blew assignments, there you go. Still, he played 98 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
Telling was when Morgan Burnett was injured, the Packers gave the defensive headset to Clinton-Dix. He was so terrible and disorganized, they gave it to Martinez for the rest of the time Burnett was sidelined.
A lot of people also point to then-rookie safety Josh Jones. Other than a couple flashes here and there — and I do literally mean a couple, like two — Jones didn’t belong on the field. Still, he somehow played 70 percent of the team’s snaps.
The Packers have never been quick to bench anyone under Mike McCarthy, especially veteran players, regardless of what they do (or don’t do). It sounds like there’s finally someone in town who will make guys accountable, at least on defense.