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The Next One? John McNulty

If Mike Sullivan leaves or is the sacrificial lamb - John McNulty may be the Bucs' next offensive coordinator.


If Greg Schiano survives the 2013 season as the Buccaneers head coach - someone's going to get the blame. With Tampa Bay's offense ranked dead last in the NFL in Total Offense and passing offense, one would have to imagine that sacrificial lamb would be offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

It's strange that the wheels have fallen off for Sullivan, who orchestrated the Bucs' highest ranked offense in team history (9th) that boasted a 4,000 yard passer, 1400 yd rusher and narrowly missing two 1,000 yard receivers (Mike Williams finished four yards shy of 1,000 to join Vincent Jackson).

Sullivan didn't suddenly get stupid. He lost his veteran starting quarterback (who imploded), his number two receiver and not one, not two, not three, not four but five players who would be a candidate for starting for the Bucs at running back (Doug Martin, Michael Smith, Mike James, Jeff Demps, Peyton Hillis - released). Big time free agent acquisition Carl Nicks has played six games in two years while Davin Joseph isn't the same player he was before blowing out his knee in the pre-season of 2012.

Sullivan is considered a candidate for the Army Head Coaching vacancy, so the bloom isn't entirely off the rose.

Still, the fans are looking for heads and both coordinators could be on the chopping block if the Head Coach is spared. It's the business of the NFL.

Logically, if Sully is jettisoned, the Bucs already have the replacement in house. Schiano wanted to hire John McNulty as the offensive coordinator for Tampa Bay when he got the job here in Tampa Bay. McNulty was the Arizona Cardinals receivers coach and Arizona was inclined to keep him on the staff, blocking Tampa Bay's opportunity to interview him.

To placate his displeasure, the Cardinals "promoted" McNulty to QB coach. Of course, McNulty was purged with the rest of Ken Whinsenhunt's coaching staff at the end of the 2012 season, freeing him up to join Tampa Bay.

McNulty was immediately hired as the Bucs' quarterback coach.

He served as Greg Schiano's offensive coordinator during the 2007-08 seasons. In 2007, the Scarlet Knights had the best offense in school history, scoring 426 points.

It was a run-first, pro-style offense that averaged 41 rushing plays and 29 passing plays a game. The Knights boasted a 2,000 yard rusher in Ray Rice as well as a 3,000 yard passer in Mike Teel and two 1,000 yard receivers in Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt and averaged 32.8 points per game.

After Rice left for the NFL, the offense got off to a very slow start as the Knights started out 1-5 in 2007. McNulty was blamed for Rutgers struggles to the point where fans were yelling at Schiano as he came off the field, "Fire McNulty".

McNulty figured it out as the Knights won their last seven games averaging 40.5 pts a game in the process. The Knights would finish with a more balanced offense 31 pass attempts, 32 rushing attempts, Teel threw for 3400 yards and Britt would again have a 1300 yard receiving.

He was apparently impressive enough under Greg Schiano to interview for the offensive coordinator position at Alabama in 2008.

Will he be a dramatic improvement over Sullivan? He will be more in tune with what Greg Schiano wants to run as a head coach. He was always the guy Schiano wanted to run his offense in the NFL.

Is he imaginative, a good play caller or makes game day adjustments?

He has a good reputation at Rutgers as being a productive offensive coordinator. He's also been in the NFL for quite a while. He was receivers coach for Jacksonville from 98-02, with the Cowboys in 03 and with Arizona in 2009-11.

If Schiano stays, I'd expect McNulty to calling the plays for the Bucs in 2014.