Friday, January 15, 2010

Saints Nation: Q&A With Saints' Offensive Tackle Zach Strief

Lineman Zach Strief took time out of his busy day, right before the playoffs, to answer a few questions from Saints Nation. Many thanks to Zach, who at 6'7" is the tallest member of the team. He was drafted in the same class as Reggie Bush, among others, and has been on the Saints for 4 years.

Saints Nation: Zach, thanks a million for taking the time. I consider you the "swiss army knife" of the offensive line, and coach Payton has found lots of ways to get you involved in the offense - sort of like the versatile Reggie Bush version of offensive lineman. Has it been a tough adjustment for you with all the different roles you'll play in a given game as opposed to learning just one position?

Zach Strief: Well there are certainly adjustments that take some time playing different positions and even more so playing on both sides of the line. It is a difficult transition sometimes going from the right to left side and vice versa. That is my role on this team though. I appreciate any chance I have to help this team win.

SN: You've been in New Orleans ever since you were drafted 4 years ago. Does it feel like a second home now?

ZS: Well this is like a first home to me now. I married my wife Mandy in April of 2009. She is born and raised in New Orleans and doesn't plan on going anywhere, neither do I.

SN: How far off do you think you are in your progression as a player from being an unquestioned 16 game starter? Is that a goal for you in 2010?

ZS: That has been a goal every year I have been in the NFL. I work very hard both in season and in the off season to improve myself as a player. It's my profession and I take it seriously. I feel like I am ready to be a starter in the league and I feel like when given the chance I will be a consistent performer. Playing behind Jon has been great for me and I've learned a tremendous amount from him.

SN: What do you think it is that makes Saints fans and the dome so unique? Is it really as different from other NFL teams as the players say?

ZS: I think this city has a very close relationship with the Saints and the players can feel that. There is a sense of responsibility that we as players feel towards the city and we receive that back from the fans on game day. I think the team and city are linked and that is a special relationship. The dome just has such great energy. The noise, the excitement, the confidence... we can feel those things. I can't wait for Saturday because it is such a rush to be in that building.

SN: The last 4 seasons, you guys as a unit have consistently been in the top 5 in fewest sacks allowed. Is the line just THAT GOOD and underrated, or does Drew Brees play a big part in that with his pocket awareness? Which is more responsible for the major success pass blocking?

ZS: Well I don't know if you could call us underrated at this point. We have two pro bowlers and two alternates. The number of sacks given up in a season is a combined effort of everyone. If Drew holds the ball too long, it can be on him, if a receiver doesn't get open it can be on them, a hot route isn't recognized and there is no where to get rid of the ball on an unblocked player. Every sack is ultimately the lines fault. It's our job. However, Drew is excellent at getting the ball out and moving in the pocket. Our receivers are great at getting open and our offense doesn't make many mental errors. Those things all contribute to us not giving up many sacks. Coach Payton does a great job calling games and keeping defenses off balance. It's the culmination of all those things.

BIG thanks again to Zach, and good luck to him this Saturday. You can visit his website HERE.