After just one season as an NFL offensive coordinator, the Buccaneers’ Mike Sullivan had his tires kicked in the interview carousel this past month, as eight teams looked for new head coaches. While understanding the interest in his OC, Pro Bowl WR Vincent Jackson is definitely pleased Sullivan will still be leading the Bucs’ offense in 2013.
“I think it’s huge,” said Jackson. “To get that year under your belt is huge, and if we had gotten a new guy here we could have had a different system and we would have had to pretty much start from scratch like we did last year. So having this confidence – you know, we kind of know what to expect from him and the coaching staff knows what to expect from us – it’s definitely going to give us a head start this offseason.”
The Bucs didn’t achieve their postseason goals, but they did set new franchise single-season records for points scored, yards gained and passing yards gained. Obviously, the arrival of Jackson (and rookie RB Doug Martin) had a lot to do with that, and Jackson thinks the Bucs can top themselves again in 2013, thanks to that much-appreciated continuity.
“I think there is a huge chance that we will be a lot better just because the fact that, again, you feel all different kinds of struggle when [you] get a new coordinator or [you] get a new head coach and everything is kind of fresh,” he said. “Even though we put in lots of work and I felt we were playing at a high level and we felt very comfortable with the system, you know, well early on in the season there were still things we could improve on and we could have been more consistent with. I expect us to definitely to have a head start on that. This offseason we won’t have to spend as much time installing, you know. Some of the veteran guys will know what is expected of them and know all of the calls and formations. We’re all in this league racing against the clock, with the union and all the hours we are only allowed to do in the offseason and during the season, that’s what we’re all competing against. It’s preparation. So for us to have that knowledge under our belt, it’s definitely going to help us.”
Everything won’t be exactly the same for the Bucs’ offense in 2013. The Bucs are looking for a new position coach for Jackson and his buddies, as Wide Receivers Coach P.J. Fleck has left to become the new head coach at Western Michigan.
“Definitely going to miss P.J., man, more so than football, but as a person,” said Jackson. “We built a great friendship in our short time together. He’s a great man, great person. I couldn’t be happier for P.J. and as a football player he definitely holds some of my skills. You know, every day that I came into work I was getting better; there was no doubt about it.”
Jackson discussed these topics and several others on Wednesday, one day after learning that he had been named to his third Pro Bowl, and his first in the NFC. This year, he and the Chicago Bears’ Brandon Marshall became the first two receivers since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to make back-to-back Pro Bowls while switching conferences. More from Jackson on…
… if going to the Pro Bowl ever gets old:
“No. I mean, it’s always a new experience. There are always new faces there and the league does such a good job of putting the event together and they make it so family-friendly that it’s really a great vacation for our family and friends to get to come out, and it’s well done.”
…on if he is surprised to be going to the Pro Bowl after just one season in Tampa:
“No, I don’t think there was much of a surprise. I mean, I had always tried to come in with a positive attitude and I knew there was going to be a learning curve. I’m dealing with an entire new staff, new guys around me, but for me it’s just about going out there, contributing, doing my job, and whether that was a 1,000-yard season or 600-yard season, whichever it was, as long as I was doing what was asked of me and helping our team win games, I thought that that was going to be my goal and be the most important thing. So am I pleased with it? Absolutely, man. It was a great year for me personally, but I was definitely chasing some postseason action and some more wins instead of the personal accolades.”
…on if and when he expects to begin working out with teammates this offseason:
“Absolutely. We actually did quite a bit last spring when I first got out here and signed in March. We linked up, we have each other’s numbers, and a couple of us receivers will get together at a local park and we’ll just start running through some basic routes and start talking through some of the work we thought we would know. Now that we have some play calls and we know what we are going to be talking about, we are all going to be [using] the same language. I expect us to start that probably about the same time, you know, sometime in March. I don’t know, I think we are scheduled to start as a team about mid-April, but a lot of guys are still in town and like to work out. There’s no reason for us to not get together.”
…on what he would tell other free agents interested in Tampa Bay:
“You know it’s a top-notch organization, it’s a top-notch structure. We have a great coaching staff here. They’ve built a system that has a feeling of family and continuity, not only with the team itself but I think that they have done a great job in the community as well. I couldn’t be more impressed with [Head Coach Greg] Schiano and his staff, where they were able to come in in one year, you know he was at the collegiate level, and to deal with professionals as a head coach to take the reins like he did and get his message across and get guys to buy in to totally different circumstances than years prior. He did an excellent job with that, he is a lot of fun to play for. He is a competitive guy and he is going to make sure you are as well-prepared as you could possibly be, so it’s a lot of fun playing for him.”