There are now two Mike Sullivan’s coaching in Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ one has a little less name recognition than his Penguins counterpart. The Steelers hired Sullivan as their new quarterbacks coach, replacing Matt Canada following Canada’s elevation to offensive coordinator. Just a couple months into the job, Sullivan’s already making an impression on players like Mason Rudolph.
During a Tuesday Zoom call with reporters, Rudolph broke down what Sullivan is bringing to the table.
“Mike’s a long time NFL coach has been in league a long time. He’s been a coordinator, been with a lot of different organizations and been with Hall of Fame players, like Eli Manning.”
Sullivan has been coaching in the NFL since 2002, getting his start with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their defensive quality control coach. His defensive background — he coached linebackers and DBs at Army and Youngstown State — gives him additional perspective once he flipped to the other side of the football. If you have a deep understanding of how defenses are coached and play, you paint a better picture when you’re coaching on the other side of the ball.
Sullivan served as the New York Giants’ wide receivers coach from 2004-2009 before spending two years as their quarterbacks coach, where he worked with Eli Manning. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ named him their offensive coordinator in 2012. He returned to the Giants in 2015 and New York named him its OC the following year. His stints in that role didn’t work out well, but his well-rounded resume should serve developing quarterbacks like Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs, and Dwayne Haskins well.
Rudolph went on to talk about what kind of coach Sullivan is.
“He’s a drill guy, he’s a structure, detail-oriented guy. He’s got a lot of information for us and he holds us accountable. Whether it’s drills on the field, he’s big on footwork, he’s big on the little things and carrying out fakes and being diligent. That’s been great because we all appreciate that. Mike’s a great person. A lot of wisdom and looking forward to continue to work with him.”
Sullivan’s approach of details and accountability shouldn’t come as any surprise. He attended Army and most recently served as the academy’s Director of Recruiting. He’s carrying over those West Point values back to the NFL where accountability, consistency, and perfection are paramount.
This year, Sullivan’s task will be getting the most out of a guy like Mason Rudolph and potentially preparing him to be the team’s 2022 starting quarterback. Former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins doesn’t have too many NFL chances left after flaming out in Washington, while Josh Dobbs is trying to keep his NFL career alive.