Mike Sullivan And The Bears

January 7th, 2013

Many Bucs fans, including several front office types if not Bucs coaches at One Buc Palace, are holding their breaths hoping that Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is not tagged to be the next head coach of the Chicago Bears.

It’s not that the crowd at One Buc Palace wouldn’t like to see Sullivan advance and succeed. It’s the collateral damage that would happen if Sullivan leaves for greener pastures with the Monsters of the Midway.

If Sullivan goes to the Second City to succeed Lovie Smith, that would mean embattled Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman will have his fourth offensive coordinator in five years. This is partially why Alex Smith and Jason Campbell crumbled as NFL quarterbacks: Both had a revolving door of offensive coordinators in their formative years as professionals.

So Joe reached out to a long-time acquaintance, Chicago Tribune columnist and Bears insider Dan Pompei, to get feedback on Sullivan’s candidacy with the Bears. Joe first met Pompei some 20 years ago when Pompei, then was the Bears beat writer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Pompei was kind enough to provide Joe will some insight of Sullivan and the Bears.

JoeBucsFan: It is known that Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan had a lengthy interview last week with the Bears. Hearing from your contacts, how serious of a candidate is he? What is it about him that the Bears like?

Dan Pompei: It’s difficult to say at this point where Sullivan ranks in the Bears’ pecking order, other than to say he is one of many, many candidates. On the surface, his resume might not be as impressive as some of the other candidates, but Phil Emery isn’t necessarily looking for eye popping statistics or years of experience as a coordinator. He is looking for leadership and head coach qualities. And it wouldn’t surprise me if he found them in Sullivan, given his background and the men he has worked for and with.

Joe: Just based on resumes, it seems Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians would be a strong candidate, a better candidate than Sullivan. What do you know about Arians and the Bears?

Pompei: Arian’s depth of experience is a selling point, as is his track record with quarterbacks. He is a bit of an outlier because he is 60 years old. That could end up hurting his chances, but Emery isn’t concerned with age as much as he is concerned about energy and ability to do the job at a high level.

Partially an element of both hope and wishful thinking, Joe must believe the Bears would go after Arians first, before offering a gig to Sullivan. This is not a knock on Sullivan in any way, but Arians has a long, proven track record of excellent work with quarterbacks.

While Sullivan did a fine job molding Eli Manning as a quarterbacks coach with the Giants, his first year as an NFL offensive coordinator working with Josh Freeman is, one could describe as, incomplete.

32 Responses to “Mike Sullivan And The Bears”

  1. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    Im sure there have to be more than just Arians on there candidate list with more experience than him. This would be a mistake for all involved. Including the Bucs.

  2. the_buc_realist Says:

    If Sullivan goes, Put Freeman on the trading block, after watching the playoffs we can all see the deficiencies at the QB postion.

  3. JH Says:

    Hopefully he stays put in Tampa and I think he will, but if he should leave then we should target Norv Turner. His system is built more around the vertical pass but with more fineness, at lease from what I understand. Not to mention, I would be surprised if Norv ever gets a HC coaching gig again, insuring the coordinator carousel stops.

  4. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    I hope he stays, but if not, I hope they hire him now. That would give us time to bring in a competent replacement. I would love Norv Turner, but I just have a hard time seeing him coming to Tampa.

  5. Terraj Says:

    If Sullivan goes to Chicago its just going to give freeman supporters another excuse to be okay with josh struggling next year..and the next year..

  6. Larry Says:

    60 years old and spent Indy’s playoff weekend in the hospital and still under consideration? Maybe not.

  7. Buc Fan #238 Says:

    Is Sullivan considered a minority candidate?

  8. stevek Says:

    Good piece, Joe.

    I don’t think there is/was a “knock on Sullivan”. It is what it is. Arians is more qualified through experience, and I bet you aren’t hurtting Sully’s itty bittys anytime soon. He has his rings….

  9. stevek Says:


    Nah, there are no more excuses for # 5. He will be a 5th year starter next season. He has 55 career starts, and he just received a $55million WR last year, in V-Jax.

    Time for Freeman to show his worth, and I am excited. Next year there will be answers. Is Freeman a solution or a problem?

  10. stevek Says:

    @ Hawaiian,

    Dead on the money, we need to hire some new assistant coaches and coordinators ASAP. We were limited with selections last year because we took so long to lure in a coach.

    We need to strike while the iron is hot. Let’s get some coaching upgrades in here.

  11. benjamin Says:

    any of yall see the kiffin to KC rumour?

  12. Sneedy16 Says:


    There will your right. If he leaves Freeman will not have any excuse. It will suck because he will lose a QB coach and OC in the same year, but with an improve defense and a healthy O-line I think he will do fine. He will be the Joe Flacco of Tampa with the offense revolving around Doug Martin.

  13. Macabee Says:


    Freeman doesn’t need any more coaches. Problem is – he’s over-coached. He needs to go out and execute the play – whatever is called and when the play breaks down, play sandlot football like Big Ben, like he also did in 2010 and he will be just fine!

  14. Patrick Says:

    If we have another failure of a season next year, we can do what the Redskins did and trade up for Johnny Manziel next offseason (he’ll be eligible to enter the draft, assuming he decides too). Boom, we have a playmaking franchise quarterback that’s fun to watch.

  15. GiveBlountABLUNT Says:


  16. Sneedy16 Says:

    Bears will chose The Texans OC since he has worked with Cutler and Marshall in Denver and has a better resume.

  17. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Freeman only showed the tiniest of improvements over last year, so if that’s what they’re after for Cutler they may hesitate to hire Sully. He needs another year or two before he has the track record to be a solid head coach candidate. It’s still in the realm of possibility that he could end up a failure in Tampa. We simply don’t know yet, and neither does Chicago.

  18. paddy Says:

    He will not go to the Bears. At least he is not being mentioned at all by the media here in Chicago.

  19. Andrew 1 Says:

    please Sullivan dont go. on another note, Tyler Eifert plays tonight cant wait to see how our potential future Tight End performs.

  20. Andrew 1 Says:

    @ Joe

    I have two questions for you.

    1. your first question was asked by Joebucsfan and your second question was asked by Joe. Does that mean there is another columnist on your staff, or am I just reading to much into it?

    2. If Sully does not get the Bears Job does that mean we are out of the woods of loosing him?

  21. WestCoastBucsFan Says:


    Tiniest of improvements over last year? He set long-standing franchise records this season. I think because he tailed off at the end of the season so bad everyone just assumes he had a bad year. There was a three to four week period where the Bucs had the most prolific offense in the league.

    I want to see Freeman improve as much as the next guy but lets not confuse him for Byron Leftwich. Freeman is obviously talented, whether he can put it all together consistently is what is in doubt.

  22. SilenceTheCritics Says:

    This is going to be a long off season of debating whether or not Freeman will be here beyond next year.

  23. FLBoyInDallas Says:



    Year Comp Att % Yds Avg TD INT Rate
    2011 346 551 62.8 3592 6.52 16 22 74.6
    2012 306 558 54.8 4065 7.29 27 17 81.6

    After re-looking at the stats I agree his improvement was more than a tiny bit. He improved in every major category except completion percentage and that could be chalked up to his throwing many more deep passes.

    However, there was a four-game span where he looked like one of the worst QB’s in the NFL. His inconsistency, if not improved next season, is going to cause the Bucs to look elsewhere. Plus he needs to show another year of improvement like he did this year (on top of removing that maddening inconsistency).

    Personally I think he can do it. That being said, though, it’s obvious the Bucs are going to sign or draft a QB who has the potential to be a starter just in case it doesn’t pan out with Freeman. His free ride without competition has come to an end.

  24. WestCoastBucsFan Says:


    I agree, I like Freeman and want him to succeed but he does need some real competition. His biggest issue thus far in his career has been consistency. We have all seen him go out and play AMAZING football but we have all seen the opposite too many times as well.

    I want to believe it is partly to do with the new system and once the “kinks” are worked out I think he can be more consistent. There were just too many plays where Freeman hit the dirt expecting a receiver to be there.

    If he doesn’t throw those eight picks in two games then we are all here complaining about him getting snubbed for the pro bowl, not his potential replacement.

    One more year…

  25. Andrew 2 Says:

    14 games should definitely outweigh 2 bad ones

    I will say again Drew Brees threw 5 picks in the BIGGEST game of their season, with playoffs on the line

    do you hear any of this non-sense about him?

  26. PRBucFan Says:

    Don’t ever compare Brees to Free lol

    Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever!

    All credibility is lots immediately hahaha

  27. Patrick Says:

    Andrew…….Drew Brees has a SUPER BOWL RING. Are you serious?????

  28. PRBucFan Says:


  29. PRBucFan Says:

    That’s not the original A1, that’s A2

  30. Jwayne Says:

    Brees has actually been to the playoffs…and oh ya won a super bowl. He gets the pass when he has a bad game because it doesn’t happen often! Freeman hasn’t even got to a wild card game. Big difference.

  31. Joe Says:


    1. your first question was asked by Joebucsfan and your second question was asked by Joe. Does that mean there is another columnist on your staff, or am I just reading to much into it?

    You are reading WWWAAAYYY too much into it. No need to spell out “JoeBucsFan” after the first reference. Joe has done this over the past four-plus years in all his interviews.

    2. If Sully does not get the Bears Job does that mean we are out of the woods of loosing him?

    Out of the woods unless some unknown team wants him as a head coach.

  32. Patrick Says:

    Andrew…….Freeman is consistently inconsistent. Brees is consistently GREAT. If Brees has a bad game, he usually bounces back strongly the next week.