When Ray Horton brought his two-gapping 3-4 defense to the Tennessee Titans in 2014, Mike Martin wasn’t thrilled.
After all, the former third-round defensive tackle thought he was at his best in an aggressive get-up-the-field type defense, not the one full of lateral motion that Horton established in Tennessee.
But without recourse, Martin played out the last two seasons of his rookie deal in Horton’s defense, before joining the Eagles in free agency this offseason.
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“That’s something that I was kind of disappointed in Tennessee when we were playing that, but you gotta adjust,” Martin said this week. “That’s this game. Coaches switch and you have to be able to change to stay in this game. But to be back in a system like this, excites me a lot.”
Martin, 25, admitted part of the reason he joined the Eagles was the opportunity based on the lack of depth the team had at his position, but an even bigger reason was the opportunity to play in Jim Schwartz’s downhill scheme.
Really, it’s the main reason the 6-1, 306-pound interior defensive lineman decided to sign a one-year deal to join the Eagles in April.
“I already knew what they were all about and then when I got to see what type of scheme they were bringing in and what Coach Schwartz wanted to emphasize, with getting off the ball and getting to our landmarks and things like that, really excited me and solidified it for me, because I know I can flourish in a system like that.”
In fact, Martin thinks he fits best in the kind of defense the Eagles will run this year.
“Oh yeah. Oh yeah,” Martin said. “My quickness and my get-off and the type of player I am, it suits me well, so it’s exciting.”
Martin came to Philadelphia because of the defensive scheme, but he already knows a couple players on the team. Martin played at Michigan with Brandon Graham, and the two have been good friends ever since. And Vinny Curry was Martin’s roommate at the Senior Bowl back in 2012.
This offseason, as Fletcher Cox stays away from the Eagles’ spring practices while he awaits a new contract, other guys are getting extended reps. One of those guys is Martin. While Taylor Hart lined up next to Bennie Logan on the first-team defense last Tuesday, it was Martin next to him this week during the practice open to the media.
Martin said he’s been sporadically working with the first unit and has been switching sides with Logan too.
Eventually, Cox will return and reclaim his rightful spot as the starter and Martin will be sent back to his spot in the depth chart with the likes of Hart, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao and Connor Wujciak.
In the meantime, Martin is just focused on showing his coaches as much as he possibly can, which isn’t very easy in May. During these practices players aren’t in pads and the hitting won’t start until training camp — and even then, it’s limited.
Still, Martin thinks he can show something over the next few weeks.
“Really, I’m just trying to focus on my hands because we’re not allowed to have a lot of contact,” he said. “If I’m good with my hands, I can show them how I can move in this defense. I think that’s something that they can see and you can’t really deny. I’m just going to continue to improve and show them those things. When it comes time to put the pads on, it will just translate.”