DE Mike Strahan Angered By Move From Right To Left End
Jul. 31, 1996
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Going from the right defensive end position to the left end might not seem to be a big switch, but it's a move that has left Michael Strahan of the New York Giants angry.
The move clears the way for the Giants to eventually move No. 1 draft pick Cedric Jones into the starting right end position, but the switch is clearly a slap in the face to Strahan, who led the team in sacks last season and was easily their best lineman.
Strahan vented some of his frustrations on Wednesday, disclosing that a lot of the team's defensive linemen were confused by recent position switches.
Among Strahan's biggest complaints were the decision by the coaching staff not to make the move until halfway through training camp at the University at Albany, and being moved for a rookie. Now he has to learn the left side.
Giants defensive coach Mike Nolan said the move was made because Strahan was the only end capable of playing the left side, which is the direction where most offenses run at the defense.
``To be honest, I'm not a coach and I have no idea what's going on,'' Strahan said Wednesday after lunch. ``As defensive linemen we get together and talk to each other about it _ moving Robert (Harris) inside ... moving me to the left side _ and what do they hope to accomplish by doing this?'' Strahan said. ``We have no idea.''
While Strahan said he had an idea the Giants might want to play Jones on the right side, he wasn't told until Monday. That was the same day Jones, the fifth pick overall in the draft, practiced with the team for the first time.
Earl Leggett, the Giants defensive line coach, asked Strahan to take a few snaps on the left side as an experiment.
Strahan, who had a team-high 7.5 sacks last season, met with Nolan later in the day to ask about the experiment and he was told he was being moved.
``I really didn't want to do it, and I wasn't going to do it,'' Strahan said. ``After I got back to my room and talked with some people and talked to myself, I said, `If you want to play, this is what you have to do because this is the situation in front of you.'''
``Of course I was upset,'' he added. ``I've been here three or four years, and I thought I did well at that end and I am only going to get better.''
The Giants' reasoning of strengthening the left side also confuses Strahan, who turned down a five-year, $10 million contract offer and accepted the team's tender offer of $785,000, a move that makes him a free agent after this season.
``Now we have both sides out of whack,'' he said. ``We had one flat and now we have two.''
When the Giants open the exhibition season Friday against Jacksonville, Strahan will start at left end, taking over for Harris, who moved to left tackle. Ray Agnew will be the other tackle. Chad Bratzke, who has appeared in eight games in three years, will probably start at right end, with Jones backing him up.
Strahan has no doubt that it's going to take him time to adjust to the left side. Not only will the opposing tackles be different, the Giants' system is different on each side.
Instead of telling a player to line up and go, the Giants want their ends to take precise steps. He'll had to learn them now and also adjust instinctively.
``When I was on the right side, things that I could see or look at, I would know what was going to happen before it happened,'' the four-year veteran said. ``Now I have to learn that all over again on the left side.''
If there is a bright side, Strahan said if he does well on the left side, it will increase his value next season when his contract comes up.