|The Bucs hope Sullivan can do for Freeman what he did for Manning in New York. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
Four years ago, then-Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was responsible for the game plan that helped New York to an improbable victory over the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. A year later, he landed the Rams head-coaching gig based largely off what he accomplished that night.
Things didn't quite go according to plan in St. Louis (Spagnuolo sandwiched one- and two-win seasons around a 7-9 effort in 2010); he was mercifully relieved of his duties this January.
Giants quarterback coach Mike Sullivan appears to be following a similar path; after serving as Eli Manning's quarterback coach for the past two seasons, he has been hired by new Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano to serve as the team's offensive coordinator.
"We are very fortunate to add someone like Mike Sullivan to lead our offensive coaching staff," Schiano said in a statement. "He is a man of character and a complete football coach, who fits with the kind of football team we are building here. His work with the Giants over the past eight seasons speaks for itself. Mike was an integral part of that team winning two Super Bowls in the last five years and we look forward to him bringing that experience and expertise to our club."
Sullivan, who was hired the same day he interviewed for the position, was the Giants' wide receivers coach from 2004-2009 and coached the quarterbacks in 2010-11 after Chris Palmer left for the UFL.
As the Newark Star-Ledger's Mike Garafolo notes, Sulliven was criticized in 2010 when Manning tossed 25 interceptions (even though he also threw for more than 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns).
A season later, Manning was one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He threw for 4,933 yards -- including 29 touchdowns and 16 picks -- completed 61 percent of his passes and had a career-best 8.4 yards per attempt. According to Football Outsiders' quarterback efficiency metric, Manning ranked sixth in total value behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Matt Stafford. In four postseason games, including the Super Bowl, Manning had nine touchdowns, a lone pick and a passer rating of 103.3.
Sullivan will be tasked with revitalizing an offense that stagnated last season after a surprising 10-6 effort in 2010. Quarterback Josh Freeman was a top-10 quarterback heading into training camp; he was coming off a 25 TD-6 INT effort in '10 and seemed ready to get the Bucs back to the playoffs. But he -- along with everybody else on the team -- regressed in 2011.
By the time it was over, Freeman had 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions and Tampa Bay limped into the offseason with a 4-12 record. The result cost Raheem Morris his job, but provided Sullivan an opportunity to hopefully do for Freeman what he did for Manning.
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