Last season the Buccaneers offense was lees then impressive, but the future looks bright as Mike Sullivan was officially introduced as the new Offensive Coordinator.
Sullivan made his name as Eli Manning’s quarterback coach in New York, most recently winning the Super Bowl. His history in the NFL isn’t one of legend but that doesn’t mean much. The guy has a Super Bowl ring which is more then everyone but Ronde Barber has on the Bucs.
But the reason Sullivan was drawn to the Bucs harkens memories of a recent coaching change aided by the allure of a superstar. Tom Thibodeau was merely an assistant with the Boston Celtics in 2009 before he accepted a job as the Chicago Bulls head coach. But Thibodeau knew the trade and he was able to utilize the superstar he inherited and create a winning team out of one that was merely average.
And going 40-40 two consecutive seasons doesn’t more perfectly define average.
Mike Sullivan is com in aboard under similar circumstances. He stated today that the reason he gave up a cushy safe job in New York was because of the Buccaneers Derrick Rose.
“I will be honest with you, it was the attraction to work with a special talent like Josh Freeman,’’ Sullivan said during his introductory press conference on Wednesday.
Thibodeau came to Chicago with little fanfare, much like Sullivan’s arrival in Tampa, but look how Thibs first year calling the shots in Chicago went. He took an average team and used it’s strengths to take it three games away from it’s first NBA Championship berth since 1997.
Sullivan has the chance to do same for the Buccaneers. He can use the Bucs best (and possibly only strength) to make the entire team better. The Bucs flow through Josh Freeman and there is no denying that. If Sullivan can make the laggy Bucs offense quick, smart and sharp it will keep the defense off the field and won’t gas them as quickly as they were in 2011.
Look at how well the defense started to form early in the year. What killed? The constant three and outs that Freeman and the offense were producing. The defense didn’t even get to warm their spot on the bench before they had to gear up and take the field again.
Sullivan can produce a winner, he did it with Eli. Freeman is the same quarterback: he’s got skills. Sullivan has proven in the past he can develop those skills and that’s exactly what Freeman needs that Scott Olsen and Raheem Morris couldn’t provide. Freeman needs a teacher, not a frat buddy.
And look at all the criticism Eli has gotten over the years. In case you haven’t checked lately, Tampa isn’t the same market as New York so all of the growing pains Freeman may encounter won’t be Page Six fodder which may actually accelerate the process.
The new offensive coordinator said it best at his press conference: it’s a quarterback driven league and as much as you want to fantasize about not conforming and thinking outside the box, you need a field general to win.
“No matter how you slice it. . . you’ve got to have a quarterback. I think a lot of the things you look at with Josh Freeman — the skill set that he possesses, the youth, the ability, the size, the strength — there’s an awful lot there that I’m just champing at the bit to work with.”