Strahan: We did not lack discipline

As is the case with his counterparts from the Redskins, Giants DE Michael Strahan will have a new coach next year.

Updated: February 6, 2004, 1:43 PM ET
By Peter Lawrence-Riddell | ESPN.com

HONOLULU -- Michael Strahan knows that discipline is the buzzword surrounding the Giants hiring of new head coach Tom Coughlin.

With high expectations heading into the 2003 season, the Giants floundered their way to a 4-12 finish, costing coach Jim Fassel his job. One of the downfalls of Fassel was a perceived lack of discipline and that's where Coughlin comes in. The head coach of the Jaguars from 1995-2002, Coughlin is known for being a no-nonsense coach who runs an extremely tight ship.

Michael Strahan
Strahan
"I haven't had a chance to meet him or talk to him, but I think with his reputation -- I guess -- he's going to bring a certain level of intensity and discipline and all those things …" said Strahan, coming off an 18½-sack season.

But is that what the Giants really need?

"I think discipline wasn't our problem last year," Strahan said. "Everybody acts as if we had nobody running the team and that the players ran the team. But I think that's a misconception. But I guess ownership felt that that was one of the reasons and that's why he's there."

If that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement for Coughlin's hire, Strahan was quick to put a positive spin on the hire.

"I'm looking forward to it," he added. "For all of us, we're just interested in winning and whatever it takes to do that is what I'm willing to do."

Gang Green

The Giants aren't the only team from New York looking to bounce back from a disappointing season. The Jets also entered the season with playoff aspirations, but those took a big hit in the preseason when Chad Pennington suffered a broken wrist. The Jets lost their first four games and finished 6-10.

"The big key is trying to stay healthy," said center Kevin Mawae, a five-time Pro Bowler. "Losing Chad for six weeks didn't help us at all and hopefully that'll make a big difference."

One area where the Jets need to get better is on defense, especially against the run, where they ranked No. 28 in the NFL.

"I think that we're a few players away from having a really great defense," Mawae said. "I think the big question for us was our linebackers this year -- at least that's what everybody was saying. (Head coach Herman Edwards) is a defensive minded coach and I think that's what we're going to try to find -- some defensive players who can make some plays for us."

Mawae also admitted that he wasn't pulling for AFC East counterpart, New England, in the Super Bowl.

"I'm not real happy that they (Patriots) won it, you know? I was pulling for the other team. But I'm happy for some guys on that team that I'm good friends with and they deserved it."

Playing with pain

By the time February rolls around, Steve McNair is usually recovering from some injury and this season is no different. McNair suffered a left calf injury and sprained his right ankle, where a later exam also showed a crack in a bone spur.

But this year, McNair is recovering in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl for the first time in his nine-year NFL career.

"The ankle is still a little tender, but other than that, I'm fine," said McNair, who was wearing a boot during practice on his injured ankle.

But despite the boot and an ankle that clearly hasn't fully healed, McNair said that he never thought about not coming to the Pro Bowl.

"No. This is my first time," said McNair, the league co-MVP this season. "Maybe next year if I make it."

Peter Lawrence-Riddell is the NFL editor for ESPN.com

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