The Houston Texans should be looking to use Jacob Martin on defense more than they did a season ago.
With the season-ending ACL injury to Houston Texans linebacker Duke Ejiofor this training camp, head coach Bill O’Brien should now be looking to utilize the skills of Jacob Martin for the 2020 season and beyond to possibly take over the role held by Ejiofor.
Martin didn’t have the opportunity to do much with the Houston Texans defense last season, playing in just 21 percent of the defensive snaps in 2019, which was just his second season in the NFL. That percentage of snaps played equaled 221 plays on defense.
Martin also played 32 percent of the special teams snaps played (137 plays) during his first season with the Texans. That said, during his time on the field defensively, Martin finished with one QB knockdown and 3.5 sacks, and he had a total of 16 blitzes and six solo tackles in 2019.
Those numbers could be the start of something special for Martin if given more opportunities on the field. Playing in only 21 percent of the total defensive snaps won’t be enough to see what the linebacker is capable of achieving, but this season should be different, because even before the injury to Ejiofor, people were starting to sing the praises of Martin before now.
Currently it is head coach Bill O’Brien singing the praises of Martin, as Saturday saw the Houston Texans head coach speak well of the linebacker Martin, saying the following about him when asked a question with comments provided by NFL Communications:
"“I just saw him out in the hallway. He brings a lot of energy to practice. He’s got a really quick first step in his pass rush game. He’s gotten a better understanding of our system. I think he’s got the body type that helps us on special teams. Great guy. He shows up to work every single day. Really a good pro. Yeah, I think he brings a lot of energy and a lot of juice to our defense.”"
Houston Texans: Jacob Martin and entering year three in the NFL
Martin should be key to the pass rush scheme of the Houston Texans depending on the in-game situation. Even in his small number of opportunities last season, if there was a player who took full advantage of his time on the field, it was Martin.
At one time, it was easy to overlook Martin and what he achieved with the Texans in 2019, but after a long offseason, that was an incorrect assessment of the outside linebacker. With a larger scale of opportunity most likely in front of him, it will be time to see if Martin was the best part of the trade of Jadeveon Clowney last offseason.
This will only be the third season for Martin in the NFL because his rookie season was played for the Seattle Seahawks, where he played 225 defensive snaps (23 percent) with that franchise as a rookie.
Don’t overlook the importance of the production on special teams Martin brings too, as O’Brien stated in the media press conference on Saturday, and the Texans can’t afford to take a step back with that unit as their new coach is Tracy Smith, who replaces the legendary Brad Seely.
Martin’s 2020 season will be very important to him and the Houston Texans defense. This should be the first season he really gets the chance to prove himself in a larger role, and don’t be surprised to see his stats double if he can play a solid number of snaps this season.