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Giants’ Blake Martinez is perfect for ‘dream’ Browns matchup

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When the Giants and Browns were bitter rivals in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the essence of the sport became the violent test of Hall of Fame wills between sadistic Giants middle linebacker Sam Huff and Cleveland’s 228-pound running back freak, Jim Brown.

”I think I’m the only guy ever to put Jim Brown out of a game,” Huff told the New York Times once. “We were playing the Browns at Yankee Stadium, and they were at our 20-yard line in the closed end. He was running to his left and he stumbled, and I hit him with my shoulder and my helmet, and Dick Modzelewski hit him, too. Jim got up and went back to the huddle, but he didn’t know where he was.

“We were trying to tell [Browns coach] Paul Brown to get Jim out of there before he really got hurt. When they heard us, they took him out. But what a runner he was, what a player.”

Blake Martinez would have relished the challenge, because he is The Tackling Machine, and headed his way on Sunday night is the Browns’ two-headed monster of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and an offense that lives for running the ball down a defense’s throat.

And The Tackling Machine says:

Bring it on!

“It’s definitely a middle linebacker’s dream to play in a game like this,” Martinez told The Post, “obviously to play against that type of competition.

“And it’s gonna be kind of that old-school type of football. It’ll be fun, and I can’t wait for it.”

The Browns boast the third-best rushing attack. Chubb (881 yards) averages 5.9 yards per carry with nine touchdowns.

Giants
Blake Martinez comes up with a tackle for the Giants.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“He’s an elite player,” Martinez said. “He’s a guy that’s able to break a lot of tackles, pretty much need 11 guys on defense to take him down it seems like … extreme athleticism … just finds a way to somehow find an opening in the defense every time, and then, if he doesn’t find opening in the defense, he always gets 6 or 7 yards falling forward or carrying guys. Really a complete, overall back.”

Martinez likens him to Derrick Henry: “That kind of ability to break free of arm tackles and make those big home run plays, and if he doesn’t, he’s still getting those 5-plus yards every carry.”

Hunt (772 yards) averages 4.4 yards with five TDs, and is more of a security blanket (32-252-5 TDs receiving) for Baker Mayfield.

“Kind of a different animal,” Martinez said. “He’s an amazing kind of pass-catching back, really good at bouncing outside, making people miss, doing kind of everything that they need to as well when he is in, but it’s just a different aspect of it. And just extreme athleticism as well to make plays, follow his blockers, be patient, and when it does come to getting through the hole, he kind of has that same aspect as Chubb where he’s hitting guys, falling forward and making the extra yard after contact.”

The Tackling Machine is counting on his defensive linemen to keep him free enough to do his thing. He is tied for fourth with 118 tackles, nine behind league leader Zach Cunningham of the Texans. Following back-to-back 144-tackle seasons, Martinez notched a career-high 155 last season with the Packers.

“Since I’ve played football growing up, I’ve always loved the physicality portion to be able to tackle and hit people,” Martinez said. “I don’t know if I’m weird for that, like I’ve never really cared too much about touchdowns, I only cared about being on a defensive side and trying to hit people as hard as I could.”

The Tackling Machine appreciates the Hog Mollies in the trenches. He presented them on Wednesday with customized Tumi bags with their initials on them and the new Xbox for Christmas. Asked what they got for him, Martinez said: “A lot of tackles,” and laughed.

The former Stanford Tackling Machine could have played in any era. He has started every game for the past four years. He is more than an old-school throwback, however. He is the quarterback of the defense, who will be matching wits with an emerging Mayfield.

“I consider myself like an adaptable player,” Martinez said. “I understand what I need to do in all aspects, and then depending on the given situations, whatever team we play, whether it’s Kyler Murray one week or Nick Chubb the next week, you know exactly where you need to be, how you need to play it for those given situations.”

The Tackling Machine played four games with the Packers against the Vikings when current Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota.

“I’ve been watching film, I start to kind of recognize, ‘Oh yeah, I remember going against that play or this play, this type of scheme, that type of formation,’ certain things that they did,” Martinez said. “But I think when it really comes down, just figuring out the certain people that they have on the offensive side that is different compared to the Minnesota personnel that kind of makes them more unique, I guess, in that aspect.”

The Tackling Machine loves playing on national television.

“Everyone’s watching, you have the ability to showcase yourself, showcase your team and go out there and kind of just show what you’ve been working for this whole year,” Martinez said.

Keep your eyes on No. 54. The Tackling Machine will be where the football is.

nypost.com

New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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