Sullivan’s Potential 2012 Impact On Freeman

July 4th, 2012

When Mike Sullivan was hired as the Bucs’ new playcaller and offensive coordinator, much was made of his twirl drills with Eli Manning and other unconventional quarterback training techniques.

Bucs fans’ hopes/expectations were that Sullivan would be able to help Josh Freeman recapture his 2010 form and develop into the poised, two-time Super Bowl champ Manning is.

“I don’t know if he’s gotten any credit but … he’s certainly been a catalyst in the good year Eli’s had,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said last month.

Manning also threw much better while moving in the pocket and on the run, which backup quarterback David Carr attributed to Sullivan’s unconventional drills.

“He has some different drills where it’s uncomfortable movements,” Carr said of Sullivan last month. “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. We do that drill every Wednesday and something every Thursday and Friday that’s similar to that, where we move around and twirl.

So it was interesting to Joe to read NFL Films guru Greg Cosell’s new breakdown of Manning. It’s a long enjoyable read for football junkies, and one that seems to back up that Sullivan’s tactics with Manning brought direct results.

In 2011, I saw significant improvement in two other elements of Manning’s game: progression reading and pocket movement, with the corollary ability to extend plays outside the pocket. We all remember the 38-yard completion to Mario Manningham late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI; it was the single biggest play in the game. It also reflected many of the attributes that I have often written about, beginning with pre-snap recognition of the coverage. … …

The other part of Manning’s game that dramatically improved in 2011, and I believe it was a defining reason as to why he had his best season yet, was his efficiency moving both within the pocket and outside the pocket. As I’ve discussed numerous times, pocket mobility is an essential trait to perform consistently at a high level. Manning, once a little frenzied and out of control when he was forced to react in response to the pass rush, is now more poised and composed. His movement is more deliberate and calculated. His downfield focus is sharper, with better clarity. In addition, his ability to extend plays on the perimeter was particularly evident last season. In years past, there were times Manning would be somewhat scattershot with his throws off movement. That deficiency has been lessened, and it’s led to better overall play. It’s a huge reason why Manning elevated his game in 2011.

Now Freeman is not Eli Manning, and surely Sullivan is busy crafting his playbook and Joe is concerned that Sullivan has never called plays on any level. However, there’s no question that Sullivan is here, in part, because of his work with Manning and for what he can do for Freeman.

The optimist in Joe believes Sullivan, while busy with other duties, will at least be successful in improving Freeman in the areas noted above: progression reading and pocket movement. Joe suspects the former will be most critical, given that the Bucs’ pocket should be more stable than usual given all the accomplished beef on the offensive line.

10 Responses to “Sullivan’s Potential 2012 Impact On Freeman”

  1. Bobby Says:

    If he can get Freeman back to his 2010 form where he can engineer come from behind victories with 4th quarter heroics and keep from throwing picks in the red zone, I’ll be thrilled. We should have all the weapons he needs to be very successful for years to come.

  2. Ladyz Says:

    @ Bobby – I don’t want Free to have to always be coming from behind late in the game. I want him to show poise, make smart decisions and know when to tuck (eat the ball) or throw it away. Sullivan can help but it’s really free who will deside his future in football. He can either be another K2 or Ronde. I hope he will buckle down and be the rising star he was picked to be. This is the make or break year. Go Bucs!

  3. Sambizle Says:

    Ladyz, I like ur stuff. (I want him to show poise, make smart decisions and know when to tuck (eat the ball) or throw it away) SPOT ON!!!

    This is for all the dummies that bitched about Rah and last year’s OC. Plain and simple Free was the one with no confidence and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZERO anticipation. Play calls…maybe 25% of the problem.

  4. Sambizle Says:

    Oh yeah and 250lb (Tippy-Toeing and or stepping out of bounds for a negative play with no defender even touching you, but I had a couple highlight reel plays) Blount. Can you say “oooooooovveeeeerrrrrraaaaaaaatttttted”?

  5. Garry Says:

    Ya he had no confidence in the horrible scheme that Olsen put out every other team knew exactly what was coming.

  6. Sambizle Says:

    Gary…u don’t know how the game really works if u don’t understand my point.

  7. Scubog Says:

    Clearly Freeman did not play as well as expected and if he had played on the same level as 2010 the team would have likely won a game or two more. But to put the blame for the 10 straight losses on our young QB and RB without mentioning the worst Buccaneer defense I’ve witnessed in 36 years, is a little biased. Seems some people are focusing on the wrong targets.

  8. buxter Says:

    Freeman is known to be a hard worker and the rest of the team will be now held to the same standard Freeman set for himself.

    Professionalism, a new concept for some at OBP.

    I truly think he will benefit greatly in knowing everyone has to pull their fair share of the load.

  9. Bobby Says:

    “I don’t want Free to have to always be coming from behind late in the game. I want him to show poise, make smart decisions and know when to tuck (eat the ball) or throw it away.”

    @Ladyz….I think that is why he was able to engineer comebacks in 2010. He was poised, made smart decisions and knew when to eat the ball. Nobody wants us to be behind in the 4th quarter but if we are I want the 2010 Freeman but new and improved in 2012 at the helm.

  10. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Says:

    LadyZ, welcome! It is nice to have a woman’s opinions here, for a change.