Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Mike Sullivan drawn by Josh Freeman
By Pat Yasinskas
Mike Sullivan was more than comfortable as quarterbacks coach of the New York Giants. He had Eli Manning and a hand in winning a Super Bowl trophy. So why was he willing to give all that up to become offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
“I will be honest with you, it was the attraction to work with a special talent like Josh Freeman,’’ Sullivan said Wednesday as he formally was introduced to the media at One Buccaneer Place.
Yeah, Freeman’s not coming off a special season. Nobody with the Buccaneers is. They went 4-12 and that’s why Raheem Morris and the previous coaching staff are gone. That’s why it’s got to be refreshing to the ownership, front office and fans to hear the man that’s going to direct the offense speak so highly of the quarterback that already is in place.
To this point, Freeman’s career has been marked by one flare shooting to the sky and another coming back to earth. After throwing 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 2010 while in his first full season as a starter, Freeman threw 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in 2011.
Sure, Freeman deserves some of the blame for what went wrong last year. He made some poor decisions and poor throws. But talk to personnel people around the league and they’ll tell Tampa Bay’s offensive problems had more to do with the supporting cast and coaching. Those same people will tell you Freeman, who turned 24 in January, remains an enormous talent with plenty of upside.
Sullivan is obviously going to have a big say in whatever Tampa Bay’s offense does going forward and he’s starting off by putting plenty of faith in Freeman.
“I think everyone knows it is a quarterback-driven league,’’ Sullivan said. “No matter how you slice it -- and, ultimately, defense wins championships -- but you have to get a quarterback. I think a lot of things you look at with a guy like Josh Freeman -- the skill set he possesses, the youth, the ability, the size and the strength -- there is an awful lot there and I am chomping at the bit to work with.’’