I have been writing about Michael Strahan since 1993, and I will say this: When he is in a talkative mood there is no better, more insightful quote in pro sports.
(Key part of above sentence: "When he is in the mood.")
So here, for your reading enjoyment before the big game Sunday, are some of Mr. Strahan's thoughts on the Giants, as transcribed by our friends at Fox p.r. after a conference call Wednesday:
STRAHAN ON THE COMPARISONS BETWEEN HIS 2007 SUPER BOWL CHAMPION GIANTS AND THIS YEAR’S GIANTS: “I think these are two totally different types of teams. Our team in 2007 was led on the defensive side of the ball. We realized defensively and especially up front, we had to get after the quarterback and had some good secondary play. This year, you can lean on the offense to put points on the board, whereas at that point in 2007, Eli finally started to get his confidence in himself. We were still little unsure every game about what was going to happen with him. I understand the comparisons but I wish this team would have their own history. This is a good team and they’re hoping that the defense hits the same hot streak that the offense hit back in 2007 when they needed it the most. The defense has shown their potential in the last two games. It’s definitely up to them to show up in Green Bay with that offense that the Packers have because offensively, there is no doubt that the Giants can score.”
STRAHAN ON WHETHER THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THIS YEAR’S GIANTS TEAM COULD DIMINISH THE RUN OF THE 2007 SQUAD: “If the Giants go all the way and win it, trust me, I’ll be a very happy man, especially sitting next to Jimmy every Sunday. I don’t think it diminishes that run. Winning a Super Bowl is being the best. It doesn’t matter how you get there. I would be extremely happy for those guys and hope they can pull it off.”
STRAHAN DESCRIBES THE STRENGTHS AND STYLES OF PIERRE-PAUL, TUCK AND UMENYIORA: “Jason Pierre-Paul has been an absolute monster this year. There have been times that they’ve needed a play and he’s been that guy to give it to them. He is mainly working on raw talent and natural ability. Justin Tuck has battled a lot of injuries but he’s said ‘hey, I’m not going to be 100% healthy this season but they really need me out there.’ Tuck is very smart and understands the best thing to do with his body. He has a great ability to slap your hands away and beat you around the edge. Having Osi Umenyiora back is a big plus and he showed that with nine sacks in nine games and the big sack at the end of the game last week. That was impressive because he reached over the offensive tackle to slam the quarterback down. He’s a potential game-changer because he’s one of the best at creating turnovers on strips of the quarterback. Osi relies more on finesse, more on edges and corners. Occasionally he will bull rush you to let you know he has power but he is going to work your edge and try to strip the quarterback. Having those three on the field at any point is a problem for any offensive line because they’re all big, strong, fast and create matchup problems.
STRAHAN ON PLAYING FOR COUGHLIN AND BUYING INTO HIS SYSTEM: “A perfect example of a player taking on the personality of their coach is Antrel Rolle. He’s said, ‘I was forced to play for a coach like this and it’s ridiculous,’ and now he says that he wouldn’t want to play for any other coach. Tom Coughlin tests you to a point and it happened with me. You have ask yourself - do I want to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution. When you start to buy in and want to be a part of the solution you realize that he’s a very good coach whose only focus is to win. It seems like the main guy that needed to buy in, the guys who are the leaders, like him and Chris Canty believe in it now.”
STRAHAN ON ELI NOW AND ON 2007 TEAM: “Last week I did a piece on the Giants and sitting with Eli and talking to him, he’s a totally different guy than he was back then. And now I just see such confidence in himself right now, whereas before, you never quite knew what you were going to get. You knew he worked hard, you knew he put everything he had into it, but I just don’t think he had the same confidence that he has now. Back during that season, in the 2007 season, we were just kind of gritting our teeth and hoping that Eli believed in himself as much as we were starting to believe in him. And he hasn’t disappointed since. He’s a totally different guy and he’s definitely the leader of that team.”