The Buccaneers have already lost receivers' coach P.J. Fleck and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan could also be moving on. Reports have Sullivan set to interview for the Chicago Bears head coaching vacancy. Where do the Bucs turn in the event Sullivan leaves?
When a football team sets franchise records in several offensive categories, teams around the league take notice. The Buccaneers have already lost wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck, and now an even more important piece of the puzzle could be on his way to a promotion.
Several published reports say that Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will interview for the Chicago Bears head coaching position.
The Bears are reportedly interested in bringing in an innovative offensive coach after the past nine seasons being led by the defensive-minded Lovie Smith, a former Buccaneers assistant under Tony Dungy.
Tampa Bay finished the 2012 season setting franchise records in points scored (389), total yards (5,820) and quarterback Josh Freeman also broke a number of records including TD passes in a season (27), and yards passing in a season (4,065).
Earlier this season, Sullivan’s name was bantered about among some openings in college football, including the head-coaching job at Boston College.
2012 was Sullivan’s first year as a play-caller, after serving the previous eight seasons working under Tom Coughlin in New York as receivers coach and then later as the Giants quarterbacks coach. Sullivan earned two Super Bowl rings during his tenure in New York.
Sullivan’s success in one season calling plays is attractive to the Bears, but also perhaps his unique background makes the Bears feel he has the leadership qualities to become a successful head coach.
Sullivan, a former Army Ranger and graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne and Air Assault School, says his prior military career is a benefit when leading the Buccaneers offense.
Sullivan talked to Pewter Report about his military background earlier this season.
“One of the things I draw upon from my military experience is the importance of preparation and the repetition in the preparation,” Sullivan said. “Realizing that when those skills and when those drills are done over and over again the reason they do that in militaries is so they become automatic.
“So that when a soldier is fatigued and when he is stressed and overcome with fear –again we are talking life and death – they can rely on that training and they can have that become not just a habit, but a ritual. I think if there is any carry over I think from a coaching standpoint the more our players repeat it over and over and develop those habits when they are tired and when they are frustrated. When things aren’t going well then it becomes ingrained.
“But lets make it clear, there is a big difference between what our troops do everyday risking their life for our freedoms, and what we do here which is just play a game.”
If the Buccaneers do in fact end up losing Sullivan to a promotion in Chicago, or another job elsewhere, finding someone who can keep the positive offensive momentum going will be critical.
Schiano could look to promote from within with running backs coach Earnest Byner, QB coach Ron Turner, or even offensive line coach Bob Bostad as possibilities to fill Sullivan’s shoes. Another name that would most likely be considered is John McNulty, who Schiano tried to interview prior to the Sullivan hiring last spring. McNulty coached at Rutgers with Schiano before leaving the college ranks to join Ken Wisenhunt’s staff in Arizona.
With the firing of seven head coaches and NFL staffs on Monday, there will be no shortage of talented offensive minds available for Schiano to consider in the event Sullivan leaves Tampa Bay. Names like Norv Turner, Chan Gailey, and Pat Shumur will be interviewed, if not for other head coaching jobs, then for offensive coordinator positions around the league.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.