Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Saturday, February 11, 2012
Bucs may have winning formula at OC

By Pat Yasinskas

Friday night’s hiring of Mike Sullivan as offensive coordinator is the biggest move Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano has made so far. Down the road, it could end up being his most important move ever.

Sullivan comes to the Buccaneers from the New York Giants, where he spent the past two seasons as quarterbacks coach and six seasons before that working with wide receivers. Sullivan never has been an NFL coordinator before and the Bucs talked to some experienced coordinators, like Ron Turner and John Shoop, before hiring Sullivan.

Mike Sullivan
Mike Sullivan, left, has been Eli Manning's quarterbacks coach the past two seasons.
I initially thought the Bucs would bring in a coordinator who had handled that role on an NFL level before. Experience seemed to be a priority as the Bucs searched for someone to fix quarterback Josh Freeman and an offense that struggled last season.

But I’m thinking the Bucs went the right way when they chose Sullivan. He may not have coordinator’s experience, but he knows how to win. The Giants just won their second Super Bowl since Sullivan joined the team in 2004 and quarterback Eli Manning obviously has been playing at a high level.

Sullivan learned at the side of head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and that can only be viewed as a positive. Sullivan also worked in Jacksonville in Coughlin's last two seasons there, so he has a pretty lengthy NFL history, even if he hasn't been a coordinator. Besides, it’s not like Shoop or Turner had enormous success in their previous stints as coordinators.

Taking a leap of faith and handing the offense to Sullivan might end up being a very good move for the Bucs. Schiano and Butch Davis, who is expected to join the team as a senior assistant and adviser, come from defensive backgrounds. But the Bucs also are putting some experience and insulation around Sullivan. They reportedly are adding longtime NFL assistant Jimmy Raye II as a senior offensive assistant.

Raye has been a coordinator before and he can help guide Sullivan. But, more importantly, the Bucs landed Sullivan, a coach who may have some fresh ideas and knows how to win.