While most media and fans fail to realize the control that Bucs head coach Greg Schiano wishes to have over his team, it’s apparent to me that a change in coordinators will not be the missing ingredient to a Buccaneer postseason run.
The Buccaneers are 4-10 on the season in large part to having the league’s worst offense. The Bucs are dead last in total yards, passing yards, and 3rd down conversions. Their 18.4 points/game were 28th in the NFL heading into this past weekend.
So, would firing offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan magically fix all of the Bucs problems?
We need to consider that the Bucs offense was a top 10 offense in 2012. What happened?
The Bucs have dealt with a majority of their injuries this year on the offensive side of the ball. Doug Martin, Mike Williams, and Carl Nicks were all dealt season ending injuries with more than half the season left to play. However, the argument would be that the offense has improved in the 2nd half of the season without those players playing.
The Josh Freeman debacle and benching was a big distraction for this team. Of course, multiple teams bench their starting quarterback every year, and as for the distraction part, it can be argued that the Dolphins dealt with the biggest distraction all year with the feud between Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. The Dolphins dealt with their distraction the right way and are in the mix for the playoffs.
Playing a rookie quarterback can always lead to some rough statistics. True, but in this era of the NFL, the quarterback must play early and must play well. Whether it is fair or not, it is a fact. The reason quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota of Oregon went back to school for the 2014 season instead of being a potential top 10 draft pick is because the big money for college players now comes in the 2nd contract. This means that these college players must play well and must play well early if they want to hit that big pay day after their rookie contract is up. Quarterbacks like Mariota will continue to stay in college as long as they can to make sure they are fully prepared to play well early in the NFL.
The NFL is a “win now” league. That goes for coaches and players. I’ve continued to say that if you don’t have a quarterback playing at a high level most of the time, then you’re going to have a tough time winning games. Glennon has been ok, but we’ve seen that he might be more of a game-manager than a playmaker.
Back to the initial question. If the Bucs fire offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan or Sullivan leaves for another job, will the Bucs be a better team?
I guess this question depends on who Greg Schiano then hires as his new offensive coordinator. The odds lie with Bucs QB coach John McNulty being elevated to offensive coordinator since Schiano initially wanted him before he hired Mike Sullivan. Schiano was denied access to McNulty by the Arizona Cardinals where McNulty was the Cardinals QBs coach.
If the move is made to McNulty, uncertainty will still remain. McNulty has only called plays as an offensive coordinator for two years during his 22 year coaching career. Of course, those two seasons were under Schiano while at Rutgers. This would lead credence to Schiano wanting to be in total control of all aspects of his team.
With just two seasons as Rutgers offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 on his resume, could John McNulty take the Bucs offense from being last in the NFL in 2013 back to the top 10 finish they had in 2012? Possibly. However, the more probable result would be more struggles for the Bucs offense and more ammunition for the fans and media who are upset with how their Buccaneers have become Rutgers of the south.
I have my doubts that a coach who has only been an offensive coordinator for a couple years at Rutgers is ready to bust out an imaginative offense that will stifle teams in the NFL.
Before we just make the assumption that only firing the offensive coordinator would completely fix the Buccaneers for 2014 and beyond, just make sure you completely understand what could possibly happen if Mike Sullivan were to be fired.
If you love Rutgers, you might just love where the Bucs might be headed.
If you don’t love Rutgers, then you probably want more than just the offensive coordinator to be fired.