Ask the experts: Tim & Jerry

by Gary Shelton on December 28, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Winston has been in the center of the Bucs all year./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston has been in the center of the Bucs all year./CARMEN MANDATO

Here at GarySheltonsports.com, we have doubled our experts with the addition of former Bucs' personnel director and former Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell. He joins his old friend and co-worker Jerry Angelo, a former personnel director for the Bucs and former general manager of the Bears. Each week, Angelo and Ruskell answer your questions regarding the NFL. Send your questions to GarySheltonsports@gmail.com with "ask the expert" in the subject line. The most interesting questions will be selected.

In the last two weeks, Jameis Winston has hit 48 of 62 passes for 666 yards and a rating of 132.9. But he also fumbled three times Sunday. If you were a prospective coach, would you see Winston as an asset or a problem?

Tim: I still believe he can be an asset and a winner in the NFL, but he must change. He needs a different tandem of teachers who will push him and not coddle him. Part 2 of that equation needs to his maturation process as a person and an athlete. He has to grow up and become a man on and off the field. When we assessed he and Mariota when I was with the Titans the deciding factor for Marcus was his maturity level over Winston. Even if we had the 1st pick in the draft and not the 2nd we would have taken Mariota.

Jerry: Jameis is an asset, but he is far too inconsistent for his position for the experience he has in the same system, now for

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three years. For whatever reason he took a step backward the majority of the year. Sure, it’s great to see him performing well in these last couple of games against quality opponents, but the season is over for the Bucs. Something is missing with him. It’s either how he is processing coaching or what the coaches are asking of him that he can’t do to a consistent level. There has been a major disconnect the majority of the time this year with his talent level, as it relates to performance.

The Steelers released James Harrison last week. With 82.5 sacks, is he a Hall of Famer?

Jerry: I certainly think he’s in consideration. He was absolutely dominating in his prime. He could change the dynamic of a game on any down. To me, that’s what Hall of Famers do.

Tim: That’s a borderline call because he was partially a product and beneficiary of that system of defense. However, he was an impacting player in his heyday and helped them win a ton of games. I don’t see him as a 1st-ballot type but more of an eventual entrant.

Jeff Fisher says he deserves some credit for the Rams’ success. As awkward as it is to say, don’t predecessors often deserve a bit of credit. Does Fisher?

Tim: Often they do especially if they were very much hands on in the evaluation and selection process of the players he left behind. In Fisher’s case I’d say that wasn’t primarily the case and I would give GM Les Snead and his crew the majority of the credit for building that team.

Jerry: Yes. He drafted Gurley, Donald, Goff and several others of their good players, but the bottom line he couldn’t win with them. I guess you could credit him as a personnel man, but that’s not why they terminated him. He and his staff couldn’t assimilate the talent they had to win.

Everyone in San Francisco has Jimmy G fever. But Carlos Hyde says that next year, the 49ers will win the Super Bowl. Can the 49ers at least be a playoff team next season?

Jerry: Who knows? If Jimmy G is the real deal, then yes, they can. Time will tell on the Niners — as it does most teams — who struggled for most of the season. Yet, they showed some signs at the end. The line is very fine in the NFL when it comes to who is and who isn’t successful There are just a very few teams that you can bet on and feel good about. That’s why it’s a ‘Show Me’, not ‘Tell Me' league.

Tim: Yes they can. I like the way they play the game on defense and Shanahan has a good mind for the game. If this QB is for real they should be able to score. The division they are in is in flux with the Seahawks descending and the Rams ascending. There is room there for another strong team to pass the ‘Hawks and battle the Rams going forward.

Blake Bortles has more passing TDs than Matt Ryan, fewer INTs than Russell Wilson, a better QBR than Cam Newton, more rushing yards than Marcus Mariota, more passing yards than Derek Carr and a higher completion percentage than Carson Wenz. Are we selling the guy short?

Tim: Not really. What he has this year that he hasn’t had in the past is a strong run game and an explosive emerging defense. They have also done a better job with him in terms of protecting the ball and not putting it all on his shoulders. As we saw in the Niner’s game, when you put it on his shoulders to bring you back he reverted to his old form of making questionable decisions and throwing the ball up for grabs. I think they will need better to become a perennial playoff / Super Bowl contender.

Jerry: No, because he’s not the sum of those parts. He did some good things, I’m not denying that. But he’s not the reason they won this year. Their head coach didn’t put him in situations where he could lose it. He played to their teams strengths and Bortles wasn’t one of them.

Four teams — the Ravens, Chargers, Bills and Titans — are competing for an AFC wild card spot. Who is left standing?

Jerry: The Ravens and the Chargers are the better teams. But at this juncture it’s all about who can get it done in the final round. Nothing matters except for this Sunday.

Tim: The Ravens are coming on and have some mo on their side as do the Chargers. The Titans are going the opposite way and the Bills are outside looking in. My edge would be with the Ravens.

The Seahawks and Falcons are still fighting for the last spot in the NFC. Who wins?

Tim: Edge to the Seahawks because they play the Cardinals at home whereas the Falcons have the Panthers…also at home. As far as who is the better team, I’d give the edge to the Falcons for health reasons if nothing else and the fact that they won the head to head in Seattle.

Jerry: The Falcons should take care of business at home this week. I personally like the Seahawks. They crawled and scraped all season. They showed a lot of grit and competitive spirt. The Falcons look better on paper, than they play on most Sundays.

Dez Bryant has struggled for the Cowboys this year. Is he back with Dallas next year?

Jerry: Good question. He is making a lot of money and requires a lot of maintenance, for a player, who didn’t meet expectations. I think the Cowboys are better off without him. He puts too much pressure on his coaches and teammates for him not to perform like an elite player. When a player’s baggage outweighs his contributions,  it’s time to cut him loose before he drowns himself and others.

Tim: If they had half a brain as an organization he would be gone and asked to never return. However, with Jones as Owner and GM there is a strong chance he returns.

Who is your league MVP? Todd Gurley, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz or Cam Newton?

Tim: No clear cut choice due to injuries to some of the top QBs, but I would buck tradition and go with Gurley. He has been phenomenal. If Wentz had stayed healthy he would have been my choice.

Jerry: From what I saw of Carson Wentz this year, I would go with him. His injury may take him out of it, but when he was on the field the Eagles were as good as any team in football. Largely because of his play.

How about Rookie of the year? Should it go to Alvin, Kamara, TJ Watt, Leonard Fournette or Marshon Lattimore?

Jerry: I really like what Lattimore did for an anemic Saints defense. It was the Saints defense that made the difference this year with their team. Lattimore made a big difference to that defense.

Tim: All have been great but what Lattimore has done has been something to behold for a rookie DB. Kamara has been great but in a somewhat supportive role. Fournette was my early choice but he has been banged up way too much in the 2nd half of the season.

The Predictions

New Orleans at Tampa Bay​​

Tim: New Orleans. Let’s just leave it at that.

Jerry: Saints need to wrap it up, while the Bucs are packing it up.

Browns at Steelers​​​

Jerry: Steelers. I can’t bash the Browns any more. They have nothing left to bash.

Tim: Steelers. The Browns are a team of destiny and infamy.

Jags at Titans​​​​

Tim: Titans. The Jags are better but have wrapped up the division. Titans want to show ownership that this season was not a hiccup over being a descent into mediocrity.

Jerry:  Jags. Jacksonville will finish on a good note after that embarrassing lose on the coast. It may be Mularkey’s last game.

Panthers at Falcons​​​

Jerry: Atlanta. The Falcons have to win to get in. The Panthers are in.

Tim: Atlanta. Close one but Falcons want it and need it more.

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