THE QB BLAST: Sinner Mike Sullivan Can’t FishSeptember 24th, 2012
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe loves when Carlson fires away. Carlson is often seen as a color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages locally via his company,America’s Best Quarterback. Plus, he’s a really cool dude.
By JEFF CARLSON
I was at church (the same where one I regularly see Gerald McCoy and other Bucs during the offseason) before the Bucs kicked off in Dallas and the pastor illustrated how fishing is based on tricking the fish with the lure. But underneath there is always the hook, and that is how the sinful pleasures of life can be; they look good on the outside but the hook lies inside and we know how deadly the consequences of that hook can be.
In the NFL, the consequence of that deceptive lure can very often be the difference between being on the right side of the “victory formation.”
Following their third game of the season, even Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are bored and frustrated with the Buccaneers offense and it is becoming painfully obvious that Mike Sullivan does not understand the concept of successful fishing. He probably goes out on the lake, throws the unbaited hook into the water and after a few hours of no bites, wonders what the problem is.
Sullivan has not even attempted to lure the defense into any false illusions of the Bucs acting like they might be doing one thing while actually doing something else. He has fallen into Greg Schiano’s philosophy of just banging his head into a wall until the wall gets tired and quits being a wall.
Sullivan’s biggest sins are the following:
1) The running game does not go outside of the tackles or use any change of pace plays. Doug Martin isn’t the problem and LeGarrette Blount isn’t the answer. There is absolutely no deception in the running game to make the defense get itself out of position. This is the NFL and you cannot physically dominate the opponent week-in and week-out on straight-ahead running plays. Has Martin gotten one pitch play to see if he even has any shifty moves?
2) He does not use motion to create space in either the running game or passing game. The only weapons available are formations and motions by which to gain an advantage and he doesn’t use motion to help create mismatches.
3) He does not use Vincent Jackson’s height advantage to his own advantage (they should have thrown the fade to Jackson at least 5 times against Mike Jenkins, both to the front and back shoulders). One time late in the game, Jenkins was able to knock it down, but every time Jenkins turned his back to Freeman, Jackson had a “big” advantage. With Jackson set as a single receiver on one side of the formation, a receiver from the opposite side of the field should have been motioned across and run a “seam route” through the over-the-top safety and you would guarantee a one-on-one situation for Jackson that he would have won consistently and he also would have won the game single-handedly, in my opinion.
4) He asks Josh Freeman to fake left on play-action passes most of the time, which puts the right-handed quarterback in a bad situation for getting rid of the ball quickly. Freeman’s mechanics struggles have always been to get his shoulders back on line from the left side and he consistently fades away to the left on throws to his left, but Sullivan more often than not, makes him go that way anyway.
5) He does not move Josh Freeman out of the pocket on controlled roll-outs to help the offensive line and receivers find open space.
Although I believe the majority of the problems begin with the play-designer, Josh Freeman does not escape his dose of criticism.
Freeman has no understanding of his time on three-step drop passing plays. He gave up sacks and a sack-fumble by holding the ball far too long on those short drops.
Freeman is taller than most, but chooses the lower release option more often and makes the ball sail a bit. Although the interception was D.J. Ware’s fault on the missed pass, Freeman slung it low through the defensive lineman’s arms and too hard for the distance, which is why it caught Ware unaware.
Vincent Jackson looks beautiful in his uniform and I like a guy that just goes to work, but he has to start fighting for balls and for penalty flags. Early against the Cowboys, Freeman threw a good ball on a fade into the end zone. Jackson was well past 5 yards downfield and was continuing to get pushed by the defender. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground and instead of fighting to get to the ball and draw the pass-interference penalty, Jackson calmly returned to the huddle. He needs to get some of Schiano’s fight in him.
As I wrote this, I was watching the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens fight it out and Mike Sullivan and Josh Freeman would do well to review this film multiple times.
The Patriots just used a formation-and-motion combination with Julian Edelman to create another easy TD pass for Tom Brady to take a halftime lead. For Freeman, I think he resembles Joe Flacco quite a bit and Flacco is very disciplined in his proper shoulder alignment and arm slot for all of his throws.
Josh, please watch Joe and take notes. Tell Sullivan to take notes of both teams’ offenses.
I don’t know if it is possible before the Bucs host RGIII and the Washington Redskins next Sunday, but can someone please get Sullivan out on the water and show him how to bait a hook?
If not, then we will get to watch the Bucs play great defense and stay just close enough to line up at the end of the game and once again blast mindlessly into the Redskins’ “victory formation.”