Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan bodes well for Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Josh Freeman

TAMPA

Every week during the offseason, Josh Freeman has wondered what kind of plan is in store for him and the Bucs offense in 2012.

The flirtation with Oregon's Chip Kelly for the head coaching job quickened his pulse. "Yeah, Chip would have been interesting, to say the least," Freeman said. "I probably would've had to get back to my speed workouts."

Freeman listened intently when Greg Schiano was hired and liked what he heard.

"Obviously, when he talks about his philosophy to win football games, you've got to love it when he talks about taking shots downfield," Freeman said. "It's great to hear."

After Schiano hired Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan as offensive coordinator Friday, Freeman called it "good news" and said he felt fortunate.

Considering the difficulty the Bucs have had assembling a coaching staff — three times they were denied requests by NFL teams to interview candidates for offensive coordinator — it's impressive the team landed Sullivan.

He began his coaching career as a defensive quality control assistant under Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville. He coached receivers for six seasons with the Giants, and after Chris Palmer left New York as quarterbacks coach in 2009, Sullivan got that job.

In 2010, Eli Manning threw a career-high 25 interceptions, which led to some finger-pointing. But he also passed for 4,002 yards and a career-high 31 touchdowns while leading the Giants to a 10-6 record.

Sullivan went to work last offseason, using his array of unconventional drills to improve Manning's ability to be accurate while passing on the move.

"I won't say his drills are unconventional, but not being a quarterbacks coach before, he has some different drills where it's uncomfortable movements," Giants quarterback David Carr told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger.

"You're not just dropping back, moving to the left and right, stepping up and throwing the ball, which never happens in the game. You move up, you sprint out, run away from someone and then try to throw off-balance."

One year after Freeman threw for 25 touchdowns and six interceptions, he took a step back in 2011 with 16 scoring passes and 22 interceptions. Not that it was all bad. Freeman improved his completion percentage (62.8 from 61.4) and passed for more yards (3,592 from 3,351).

Sullivan is said to be a great communicator, and he will work to improve Freeman's ball protection. A former Army Ranger, Sullivan has a blue belt in jiujitsu and uses a triangle design of the Gracies, the famous mixed martial arts family, to highlight three goals for his quarterbacks: decision-making, accuracy and leadership.

"It's on our quarterback guide," Sullivan said recently of the triangle design. "It's something we constantly talk about. Everything else, it has to fit within that framework. If (the quarterback is) grading out and getting an 'A' (in the three goals), we're going to win."

It remains to be seen what kind of play-caller Sullivan will be, but he has had a window seat to the Giants offense under coordinator Kevin Gilbride.

Another bonus is that Sullivan also knows how to get the best out of receivers, which will be big in stimulating the Bucs' Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn.

Freeman can breathe easier. The Bucs can, too.

Comments
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Published: 05/25/18
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

TAMPA — Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has always been generous with his time, staying after practice to work with younger players. That should be a real added benefit for first-round pick Vita Vea.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"That's my M.O.'' Mc...
Published: 05/25/18
The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

TAMPA — Only three players in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in each of his first four years seasons: Randy Moss, A.J. Green and the Bucs' Mike Evans.RELATED: More Bucs coverageBut by Evans' standards, 2017 was "proba...
Published: 05/25/18
Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

TAMPA — If the first few days of OTAs are any indication, the Bucs secondary could be much improved.Completions may be down, interceptions should be up.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"A lot of interceptions,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday' afte...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Published: 05/24/18
Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Published: 05/24/18