Zach Strief & Deuce McAllister talk Eli Apple’s performance & improving Saints defense

Zach Strief
December 05, 2018 - 7:28 pm

Against the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints cornerback Eli Apple was called for three holding penalties in the 1st quarter and was also beaten a couple times for big plays.  WWL Saints play-by-play announcer Zach Strief was asked about Apple.

“What you forget sometimes is that Apple has been in this system for only 5 games,” Strief pointed out.  “What’s really hard for people to understand, who have never played, is you have to be extremely efficient with your analysis of what’s happening in order to play fast enough to play in the NFL today.”

Strief provided an analogy to demonstrate how difficult it can be for players, who are still learning the system of a new team. “If there are six people in front of you, and one of them has a number written on his palm.  Then all six people wave their hands in front of your face for three seconds, and you have to say what the number was.  It might be a little confusing.  You’re looking at a lot.” 

That changes, Strief said, with the more time a player puts in at his position.  “By the third year in the system, they put a hat on the guy who has the number on his hand; and the other five people are just white noise.  All of a sudden, you can focus in quickly, efficiently.  Eli Apple hasn’t had a chance to do that in a Saints uniform yet.”

Strief, a former Saints offensive lineman, also empathizes the tough task of defensive backs. “Defensive backs are similar to offensive linemen.  It’s really easy to criticize them,” he said.  “It’s a very visual moment in a game.  You don’t see them when they’re doing good.  The Saints gave up 194 yards passing in the first half to Dak Prescott.  That’s a lot of yards.  Prescott finished with 248 yards.  But, they gave up 55 yards passing in the second half.  That’s a pretty good performance by any defense.” 

For those who may say that greatly improved second half performance was because the Cowboys turned to running ball, WWL Saints color analyst Deuce McAllister had an answer. “The Cowboys only had one run of 20+ yards, and that was it in the 4th quarter.  At some point, you have to give the Saints defensive backs credit.”

Strief concurred, “Dallas didn’t run as many plays, because the Saints defense played better and did a better job at getting off the field.  55 yards is 55 yards.”

Despite the struggles early in the season, the Saints defense has held five of their last six opponents. And, Strief summed it up this way, “That secondary has a chance to be very good.  The defense has been fantastic for about a month now, and it looks good for the future.”

Don’t miss “Fans & the Pros” with Zach Strief and Deuce McAllister Fridays 4 to 7pm on WWL 105.3FM, 870AM, and the app.


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