“All these things that you don’t even . . . as a young player, I never thought about. I thought I would just show up and my talent would carry me. It does sometimes, but when you add the extra discipline in the position, then that’s when you see guys really excelling.”
Lloyd liked Sullivan’s coaching style, despite it being slightly unconventional. In addition to the route walking, Sullivan frequently popped in old film of some former receivers he used to coach, drawing murmurs and eye rolls from his new receiving corps.
“At the beginning we’re like, ‘Why are we watching these guys? This film is from 10 years ago, I’m not watching this.’ But then you see how effective it was in the games,” Lloyd said.
Getting players to buy in hasn’t been a problem for Sullivan, who counts Herman Moore, Johnnie Morton, David Boston, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Greg Jennings among receivers who either have played for him or, in the case of Fitzgerald and Jennings, asked him to work with them during last year’s lockout. Sullivan wasn’t coaching then, and thus wasn’t restricted from seeing and helping NFL players.
“I told Brandon years ago, when I had the opportunity to work with him, ‘You’ve just got to trust me, and I’ll help you get better.’ And he did, and he’s become a great technician,” said Sullivan, who has two young receivers now in Jacksonville (Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts) with plenty of ability. “I’ve always taught off of video, it’s a great tool to teach with.
“To the common man, being a good receiver is just running down the field. But when you play in the NFL and you have good corners, you have guys that get their hands on you, bumping you around, some of the holding that goes on that you have to fight through, there’s some real technical qualities in being a good receiver. It’s not just about how fast you are.”
After stints with the Chargers, Lions, Cardinals, Dolphins, and 49ers, Sullivan found himself home during the 2011 season. “I’m not a real good retiree: I don’t fish, I don’t hunt, I don’t play golf,” he said. So when given the opportunity to join Mike Mularkey’s staff in Jacksonville, he jumped.
They’ll be on opposing sidelines during Sunday’s game, but expect Lloyd and Sullivan to reconnect before and after. They’ll have catching up to do.
“I’ve always been very proud of how good he’s done,” Sullivan said. “We were only together for one year, then he went to Washington and kind of faded out of the picture. Now he’s scratched his way back.”
He’s been able to do that using the approach that Sullivan instilled in him, Lloyd said.
“He gets a lot of the credit, and every chance I get to tell people, I will,” he said. “I’ve had players ask me, where’d you get that move? I got it from Jerry Sullivan, and I’m still using it.”