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Even 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, Michael Strahan hardly gets through a single day without hearing something about the New York Giants' leadership woes and how his old team misses him.
Fans ask Strahan on the street and on Twitter about what's wrong with the Giants and who will be the leader of a team that lately has looked lost.
"When you watch on TV you see a team with talent, but you also see a team that misses opportunities and doesn't capitalize on all the talent that it has," Strahan, who retired after the 2007 season, said on a conference call with reporters to discuss the Giants' new Ring of Honor.
"And in the case of the Giants, it is not so much them losing games. Good teams lose games ... but it is the way they are losing. It seems like they are coming unraveled at times that they usually are able to handle it."
On Sunday night at halftime of the Giants' game against the Bears, Strahan will be one of 30 former players to be recognized in the team's Ring of Honor. Both he and quarterback Phil Simms hope to make it there for the unveiling after fulfilling their television obligations earlier in the day.
|Phil Simms has this reminder for critics and despondent Giants fans: "It is only three games. So it doesn't make the season."|
And they hope, if they make it, that they will recognize their old team on the field.
The Giants (1-2) are on a two-game slide after being routed by the Colts and suffering a complete meltdown against the Titans last Sunday.During their 29-10 loss to Tennessee, the Giants committed 11 penalties and were flagged for five personal fouls after the whistle.
"I thought this year they were a team [in] -- transition is not the word, but I thought they had to re-identify themselves and after three games I don't think they have," Simms said.
"That is what they got to do here in the next few weeks," the CBS analyst said. "After five or six weeks you see what kind of team you got and now we'll see how it plays out. The Giants are still waiting to see."Is it going to be an offense that runs it somewhat, and it is just going to be Eli [Manning] throwing it to these receivers that I think are very talented, or is it going to be the defense? I really can't label the defense, where in years past I would go, 'Hey the defensive line is one of the best in football.' We will see how it goes in the next few weeks."
It hasn't gone well for the Giants since last season. They have now lost 10 of their past 14 games, and the fashion in which they are losing is disturbing.
Strahan has heard the criticism surrounding coach Tom Coughlin and how some believe he has lost the team. There are rumors swirling of Bill Cowher replacing Coughlin next season if the Giants struggle and miss the playoffs.
Coughlin's old captain said the coach is not the problem, despite Coughlin trying to take responsibility for the Giants' loss to the Titans.
"Now all of a sudden he can't coach? I don't think that is the case," said Strahan, a Fox analyst. "He has to just get these guys on the same page. As a coach you can only do so much and you got to have some guys who are your leaders who can kind of control the situation and police each other."
Strahan believes the Giants need to get back to having fun and challenging each other every day. The former defensive end talked fondly about how in the 2007 Super Bowl season the defensive players would create competitions among themselves to see who would get the most sacks, tackles, hits on quarterbacks to even the most compliments in the meeting rooms. There were personal battles in practice drills and Strahan would even have rap contests with Osi Umenyiora.
"Should they be the best [defensive] line in the league?" Strahan asked. "If you go player by player, they are about as talented if not more talented than anybody else. It is hard to sit here and say what you should do. At some point it happens or it doesn't. We hit a very hot streak in 2007 and our confidence was at an all-time high. That is what you need, confidence."
Simms said Manning is throwing the ball "better than I have ever seen him throw the football." Manning has been a bit unlucky as he has thrown six interceptions, with four of them bouncing off the hands of his receivers and into the hands of the defense.
But a team's fortunes can turn quickly. Strahan pointed to Dallas as a talented team that was not able to put it together until it beat the Houston Texans for its first win on Sunday.
"It is only three games," Simms said. "So it doesn't make the season. Fourteen days ago, Mark Sanchez is arguably the weakest link on the New York Jets and 14 days later, man, he might be the strength of the team.
"We all judge too quickly. Of course, I'm in the business; I do it, too."
Simms said a lot of little things are holding the Giants back.
"When the Giants won the Super Bowl [in 2007], that year and almost the whole year after it ... their offensive and defensive lines were at times so dominant," Simms said. "I said, 'Wow that truly is the Giants tradition.' Big, physical and just would grind people up. Just wear them down. That is what I saw when I watched them. Of course I don't quite see that now, but I do see glimpses of it."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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