One game down in Eli Apple’s NFL career and the initial returns on his performance have been solid, all part of what was a mixed bag of performances from the secondary in Sunday’s 20-19 win at the Dallas Cowboys.
It was a slow start for Apple, the Giants' first round pick taken 10th overall, who started the game on the outside and not in the slot. Apple did show solid coverage ability and range as well as good overall discipline in his assignments.
“I think he was feeling his way early. He got his feet underneath him as the game wore on. Really competed at a higher level as the game wore on,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said on Monday.
“Just like a lot of young players, they have to feel their way a little bit at times. You play through it and I think he made some nice tackles as the game wore on.”
But it was a mixed overall day from the Giants secondary. While they looked improved from last year’s worst-ranked pass defense, they still had their struggles.
They allowed a rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, to have a solid showing and move the ball systematically down the field. The Giants generated a solid pass rush, especially in the second half. But they still allowed five scoring drives and while none of the final scores came in the air, it was still discouraging to see the Giants blow coverage assignments against a rookie quarterback.
Prescott finished the game 25-for-45 for 227 yards. He also had two rushes for 12 yards.
Glaringly, the Giants allowed the Cowboys a 58 percent conversion rate on third down and a total of 24 first downs, 13 of which came via passing.
“I feel like we’ll get better as the season goes on at third down,” McAdoo said. “We just need to find a way to get off the field.”