Season in Review - Inside Linebackers
In our eight instalment of reviewing every player at every position, we turn our attentions to our inside linebackers. At a position that is hugely focused on heading into the draft, who has the opportunity to fill the void Martinez has left?
Martinez is a solid and consistent inside linebacker, but he continues to divide analysts and fans alike as to how effective he is. Martinez started all 16 games for the third straight year and very rarely came off the field, regardless of the defensive situation. He was in on an incredible 1,024 defensive snaps (98.5% of the team’s defensive total) and he led the Packers in tackles for the third straight year – 155 (97 solo). Martinez also notched up 3.0 sacks, 7 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defensed and 1 interception for 22 yards – a key play in the regular season finale in Detroit. He committed just 1 penalty (unnecessary roughness) during the regular season. Despite all the impressive numbers, he doesn’t make many splash plays and some question his ability to stuff the hole in the running game and to cover speedy tight ends and backs in the passing game.
As the free agency period began, Martinez agreed a 3 year, $30m deal to move to the New York Giants.
Goodson was acquired in a trade with the New York Giants on the 3rd September and ended up playing in 15 games for the Packers (9 starts). He played in 254 defensive snaps (24.4% of the team’s defensive snaps) and had 35 tackles (22 solo). Goodson was also a contributor on special teams – playing 145 special teams plays (33.8% of the team’s total). He is a solid run defender.
Goodson enters 2020 as a member of the Cleveland Browns after they signed him in March.
Burks again failed to live up to the expectations the team must have had of him when he was made a 3rd round draft choice in 2018. Burks started the regular season injured (torn pectoral muscle which occurred in the pre-season) and his season never seemed to get started after that. Despite playing in 12 games (no starts) he recorded just 6 tackles and was in on just 57 defensive plays (5.5% of the team’s defensive total). On the plus side Burks recorded a team-leading 8 tackles on special teams, whilst being in on 249 special teams plays (58.0% of the team’s total).
Burks will be back in 2020, but there can be little doubt that this will be a make or break year for him.
Summers was a 7th round selection (226th overall pick) in the 2019 NFL draft. Despite playing in all 16 games (no starts), he didn’t see a single down of action on defense in 2019. However, he was one of the team’s premier special teams players, being in on a team leading 311 special teams plays (72.5% of the team’s total) and recording 7 tackles (tied for 3rd on the team).
Bolton was signed by the Packers on 3rd May and was having an excellent pre-season until he tore an ACL against the Raiders (22nd August) in the third game of the exhibition season. In fact, Bolton’s pre-season was so good that he may well have been close to competing for a starting job alongside Blake Martinez had the injury not occurred. Because of the injury he was waived/injured at the cut-down to the 53-man roster (31st August). Bolton went unclaimed through the waiver process and by rule, reverted to injured reserve.
Having missed the whole of the 2019 season due to injury, Bolton should be back in 2020 to challenge for a roster spot. If he shows anything like he did last year, he has a good shot.
After playing for the Packers throughout 2018 (he played in all 16 games and led the 2018 team in special teams tackles with 13), Crawford was in competition for a spot on the roster during training camp and the pre-season. He made the roster on the day of the 53-man cut-down (August 31st) but was surprisingly waived just a few days later when the Packers traded for B.J. Goodson (3rd September). Crawford was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins the same day – he played 3 games for the Dolphins before being placed on injured reserve.
Jones was signed off waivers (from Baltimore Ravens) on 31st July and then waived at the cut-down to the 53-man roster (31stAugust). He is currently a member of the XFL’s Team 9.
Find Peter on twitter here: @The_IT_Hedgehog