Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Joe Smith and Greg Auman

Bucs finally make good on promise to help Josh Freeman

12

February

When the Bucs hired a head coach, Greg Schiano, with a defensive background, it was more than a little surprising.

Why?

Because everyone knows the team’s best chance for success is to get quarterback Josh Freeman back to a point where he’s playing like a franchise quarterback. When his play slipped during the 2011 season, that status was, at best, debatable.

That’s why it was widely assumed the Bucs would opt for a head coach who had an extensive offensive background, someone who could mold and develop Freeman. When Tampa Bay hired Schiano, whose expertise is mostly on defense, we were left to wonder what that meant for Freeman, who had been described as a top priority by everyone in the organization.

All this brings us to Mike Sullivan, the team’s newly-hired offensive coordinator. His hiring makes it look as if it really is “all about 5”, as former coach Raheem Morris was fond of saying.

Sullivan’s success with Eli Manning while serving as the Giants’ quarterbacks coach the past two seasons is well documented. Manning in 2010 had a season a little like Freeman’s 2011. Manning threw 25 interceptions that season, while Freeman threw 22 (and just 16 touchdowns) this past season.

Manning was not only named Super Bowl MVP one season after his rough campaign, but he also set a franchise mark with 4,933 passing yards and reduced his interception total to 16. What role did Sullivan play?

“I don’t know if he’s gotten any credit but. . . he’s certainly been a catalyst in the good year Eli’s had,” Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said, according to the New York Daily News.

So, while Schiano’s hire and the resulting changes will dominate the news during the offseason, this hire could – ultimately – have as much to do with the Bucs’ future success as anything else the team does.

Morris didn’t make it past Year 3. But he was on the money with his catchphrase: It really is all about 5.

[Last modified: Sunday, February 12, 2012 12:07am]

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