Mike Sullivan’s Murky Bucs Future

December 4th, 2013

mike sullivan 1126You can look at the performance of Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan from a few angles.

Sullivan’s offense is dreadful beyond any possible excuse in the second half of games this season, but the man did revive Josh Freeman from the depths of 2011 into a guy that set franchise records and was the gunslinger of the NFL’s ninth-ranked offense last year.

Sullivan also has shown he can groom a rookie quarterback, Mike Glennon, who could win Rookie of the Year.

But “Sully,” as he’s known around One Buc Palace, is a guy who has absorbed backhanded shots from Greg Schiano recently, Joe believes. Following the clubbing by the Panthers, Greg Schiano said the following, as transcribed by TampaBay.com.

“We had stuff in the plan and that’s why I’m disappointed,” Schiano said Monday. “There weren’t a lot of times, and (I have been) asked before, ‘when do you call that stuff?’ I think that’s feel. You call it when you feel like it’s time to call it. There wasn’t a lot of that going on. We didn’t really get it rolling other than that first drive. But still, there were opportunities I needed to say, ‘let’s do it now.’ We had stuff in the plan and sometimes that can light a fire on your football team. In retrospect I wish I would’ve stepped in and said, ‘let’s do it now.’ But I didn’t.

“I do think those things do sometimes energize your team.”

For Joe, this was the equivalent of Schiano expressing disappointment in his playcaller. Schiano delivered similar style commentary a month ago when he told everyone Glennon was throwing to much, and he, Schiano, needed to assert his authority and make sure the Bucs were more balanced and more committed to the run.

Now Joe’s not saying Sullivan is undeserving of criticism, but Joe believes Schiano is very much on the fence about Sullivan remaining in his current job. After all, it was no military secret that Schiano was strongly considering current Bucs quarterbacks coach John McNulty to join his staff in 2012 as offensive coordinator. But McNulty, who was then working for the Cardinals, was not given permission to interview with Tampa Bay.

Joe’s already written that a tried and true way to mess up a young quarterback is to replace his offensive coordinator, but Joe doubts Schiano would see it that way if he made the transition to McNulty this offseason. Joe would wager that happens, unless the Bucs’ offense has a serious December revival.

And if that December revival comes, then it’s likely Sullivan will be in demand as a head coaching candidate, which would further cloud the future. Yes, in that scenario, with the success of three QBs under his belt — Freeman, Glennon and Eli Manning — Sully would be a hot name.

38 Responses to “Mike Sullivan’s Murky Bucs Future”

  1. Jim Says:

    Dink passes look great for stats but shots down the field score TDS. Schiano can not manage pro athletes. If he could, Freeman would still be here and the team would have won more than three games.

  2. chef paul Says:

    If Sully did get canned (which I’m not completely against) I think McNulty would be the most seamless transition that wouldn’t hurt Glennon much. It almost seems like Shiano has been laying the foundation to get McNulty to be OC for a while now. I wish he’d spend more effort on getting rid of Sheridan tho. Next year McNulty and Davis as coordinators sounds pretty good to me.

  3. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Jim – If Freeman was talented and was primed to light the league on fire if he just had a decent coach then that would have happened as soon as he was asked to leave Tampa. Instead, he’s sat on the Minnesota bench unable to play his way into a starting job against a couple QBs that probably won’t even be on the team next year. There’s more to the game than the bomb plays. Looks great on sportscenter but I’m fine with completing a high percentage of throws and not making many mistakes. Coach made the right choice with QBs. It’s time to turn the page on this argument.

  4. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Chef Paul – It’s almost as though Schiano has had a plan all along. Obviously that can’t be the case because we’ve heard from Beckles, Shaun King and Duemig that he doesn’t have a plan but it’s starting to sound a lot like a plan that’s coming together to me.

  5. FanOfBucs Says:

    I think that comment was in regards to Schiano not running trick plays in game to turn momentum, but hey, why ruin a good story?

    Dude, there’s no reason for the evil attitude. Schiano’s comments are clean and not out of context. He was not happy with the playcalling. That’s clear. –Joe

  6. BirdDoggers Says:

    One way or another, changes are coming this offseason. I don’t see the team winning the remaining games to close out the year. Sully may have been instrumental in helping Freeman last year but Freeman also had a meltdown towards the end of the season. Glennon is looking much more consistent than Freeman, but the team can’t score points in the second half of games, the money half.

    In my opinion, the jury is out on this coaching staff as a whole. Questionable play calling on both sides of the ball, lack of adjustments and the apparent lack of proper player evaluation. To keep all the current pieces in place for another season would be asking for a repeat of 2013.

  7. Patrick in VA Says:

    @BirdDoggers – Next year will be the first year he’s had the people he’s wanted in place available to him. After the cluster to get schiano hired it was a grab bag effort to get his staff filled out. Next year he should have the OC he wanted and the DC he wanted available to him so we’ll see changes at the coordinator level. If we’re worried about continuity that’s the best change you could ask for because those people are already in house and already influencing things day to day and developing relationships with the players.

  8. Snook Says:

    If Schiano stays, at least one coordinator will be sacrificed. That’s a given. Someone has to be held accountable.

  9. pick6 Says:

    time seems to be sully’s enemy. if the game ended at halftime or if he could pick out his best streak of offensive performances to be judged on, there would be a line out the door to hire the guy. unfortunately over 4 quarters per game and 16 games a year, Sully falls short of the mark and his players ultimately come up short. not sure that mcnulty can do much better in his first stint as an NFL playcaller, though. i think Schiano is going to have to make a big decision or risk losing his job for the sake of sticking with the devil he knows. this was nearly the case when he hesitated for 8+ months to do what they felt was the right thing and move on from Josh Freeman. these are the calls that make NFL head coach such a tough job to hold on to. most championship coaches and franchises have had to part ways with some good colleagues\employees who were falling short as coaches or players in order to win a lombardi.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If anything, Schiano has been taking a lot of heat that should be on Sully….I agree that if Schiano survives, it will not be without changes. McNulty & Davis would be my choice as coordinators. And….The Glazers would save a bit of money in the process.

  11. BucsFan68 Says:

    If Schiano is back next year, he will be on the hot seat,
    considering the fact that he’s been given more to work with.

  12. Que589 Says:


    You hit the nail on the head.

    Schiano is telling Sully when to call the” High School” trick plays. Sully came here with a bona fide offensive system and Schiano is tearing it down by the minute

  13. Jim Says:

    Patrick in Va – I have been a season ticket holder since 1977 and this season by far has been the worst. In the early years, the team lost way too much, but there was improvement.

    Schino turned this year into an extended pre-season.

  14. Couch Fan Says:

    I just love when fans act like they are on the inside and know it all. Lol

  15. Schiano Says:

    I just love when fans who have nothing to say complain about others who do! SMDH!

  16. Splengo Says:

    Lost my head. Schiano didn’t say that, Splengo did! Joe, kill the comment, it will give Couch Fan ammunition. Lol

  17. Bill Says:

    Have I been banded?

  18. THETRUTH Says:



    Its great to voice opinion but dont put yor knowledge of a game against NFL coaches , there is reason they have reached that level.. high school coach yes you can question knowledge of game not NFL

  19. Bobby Says:

    @Couch….agree. Nobody knows what is going on inside of One Buc. I personally am not sold on the coaching staff but I think it’s fair to give Schiano a third year for holding the team together and keeping the troops focused. I would be happy to see both OC and DC leave the building. Bad on both sides of the ball. More DC than OC but they both need to go.

  20. Chris Says:

    Schiano gets a lot of flack for poor playcalling from his coordinators. Truth be told I’m not a big fan of sullys offensive scheme. I think they’re the problem and he never got his guys. With schiano, if he back, will promote McNulty. Then most likely will promote Frazier, wanstedt or butch Davis to DC.

  21. ROBERT6 Says:

    sully needs to go. way to predictable…..but didn’t we say that about olsen?

    the offense itseld needs a revamp. more spread looks and get more players involved. it’s like we only have 2 WR’s 90% of the time. that doesn’t leave a lot of options for the QB. we need more 3-4 WR sets. every year brees, brady and manning make some no name WR a star. We need to give the 3 & 4 wr’s the ball. problem is we NEVER have 3 or 4 WR’s on the field!!!!! The O line needs a revamp as well.

  22. bucsQcCity Says:

    Not sold on Sullivan but when I look at the weapons he has on the field, it’s hard to tell if the guy is just outcoached or the talent level is not there.. Oline is overrated, RB are depleted, Rookie QB and poor WR/TE personel evaluation with a devastating lost in MW. Crabtree was looking like a good blocker but he’s not a threat in the passing game..

    I think Sheridan is the one that needs to be fired because the talent level on defense is clearly above what Sullivan has at its disposal.

    If Schiano stays, which I’m not a big fan of, the one that needs to go is Sheridan for sure.

    I would rather us make a move to get Mike Zimmer as HC before Cincinnati figures out that Marvin won’t lead them nowhere and gives him the job but if Glazers wants to set for mediocrity or give Schiano a decade to adapt to the NFL reality, then so be it..

  23. Couch Fan Says:

    Splengo, you know very well i got plenty of ammunition without that one. And btw I wasnt complaining. It’s comical…. I really do love it when people act as if what they say is fact such as, “Schiano is calling the plays” which no one really knows the truth to.

    It amuses me. So keep it up!


    I agree completely. I was one of the ones that thought this team had given up after that first Atl loss. I was wrong then and I do believe he has earned 1 more year to see if he can turn it around.

  24. jjuice Says:

    All coaches must go, 2nd game against Carolina just looked like an extension of the 1st game. No adjustments were made!

  25. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I don’t think Schiano was insulting Sullivan. He said they practice such plays for weeks before using them. Sullivan probably wasn’t sure if it was too soon to pull it off.

    Schiano was just admitting he had the urge to jump in and say “Let’s do it anyway.”

    I have to say, I was impressed by both Big Dog AND Schiano during that interview they did. Dog held nothing back. I assume he warned Schiano ahead of time that he was going to be asking tough questions on everyone’s mind.

    And Schiano handled it well. That hesitation right after the first question caused me to have doubts, but then Schiano dove right in. And contrary to what certain haters say, he didn’t avoid taking responsibility himself. In fact he named several instances where he could have made a different. And he even said he was very disappointed with the coaching job he did.

    Schiano has had his struggles, and by the end of the season I MIGHT even want him gone. But he has earned my respect at least.

    The only reason I would want him gone would be to increase our chances of taking a QB with an early pick.

  26. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Joe, is the term Big Dog always going to cause a comment to await moderation? Or was it some other reason?

  27. Warrenfb12 Says:

    You know Schiano is chomping at the bit to replace him with McNulty.

  28. John Says:

    Mate lo

  29. John Says:

    Look at our talent on offense – rookie qb no wr’s no tight end average o line- really what do u expect ? How good did Troy aikmen do with the best at every postion in the nfl on offense ? People are acting like we have talent

  30. mvermulm Says:

    Sully is atrocious as a play-caller. Against the Lions and Panthers we tried over and over to run up the middle against a couple of the best run defenses in the league. Nothing to the outside, no screens to take advantage of the defense’s aggressiveness, nothing. Time and time again our WRs are running streaks and deep routes that require far too much time for Glennon to sit back there, and then they run routes two yards short of the sticks on third down. Top it off with the fact that the option routes are pointless, and we have the Sully offense. I’d welcome almost anyone as O-coordinator next year over Sully.

    Wow, I didn’t realize I dis-liked Sully so much before blacking out while typing that.

  31. Joe Says:

    Joe, is the term Big Dog always going to cause a comment to await moderation?

    Pretty much because people won’t behave.

  32. Que589 Says:

    Great stat @Tim.

    The offense is Coach Schiano’s PHILOSOPHY. Which is paramount when talking about strategy & play calling. No coordinator can 100% implement their scheme/system if the philosophy is being dictated by someone else. It’s fact that the Bucs O and D is based around Schiano’s philosophy, that’s why he could NEVER throw one of his coordinators under the bus. There’re doing what he wants them to (micro-managing)

  33. Brian Jones Says:

    McNulty will more than likely be our O.C next season. You may recall, that we were denied talks with him by the Cardinals last season for the position, hence – making us grab Sullivan from the Giants.

  34. Que589 Says:


  35. Brian Jones Says:

    Please accept my apologies for my previous posting without reading the article completely.

  36. arealbucsfan Says:

    @Robert6 agreed. We dont get enough players involved. Its ridiculous

  37. chickster Says:

    You dumb assssess are in for another long season next year this is a bad coaching staff the worst offensive cord in the league you cannot win in this league with this offence and some of you guys wants these guys too stay these guys are bad wow

  38. MTM Says:

    If Schiano doesn’t like the play calling then change it. Who’s the head coach anyway. I don’t have faith inbthis coaching staff. I would rather an all new staff abd QB. Instead of more cellar dwelker years under Schiano. Sorry I don’t buy what he’s selling.