Ask the experts: Tim & Jerry

by Gary Shelton on February 1, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

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.

Thursday, 4 a.m.

We all know about the greatness of Tom Brady. But I wrote a piece this week wondering who has been the best No. 2 player for the Patriots over the years? Wes Welker? Tedy Bruschi? Rob Gronkowski? Someone else?

Jerry: I would have to go with Bruschi. He was such an emotional leader for so many of their great teams over his tenure. They played exceptional on defense and were less reliant on the arm and magic Tom Brady brought to their offense.

Tim: All of them are No. 2 and were made better than they would have been on any other team by # 1A…Bill Belichick.  Belichick’s genius is

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in figuring out what each and every player does best and then exploiting that talent via his role while limiting his exposure in the areas in which he is vulnerable.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he was concerned about the catch rule and wants it clearer. Do you agree with him?

Tim: Sure, but that has been the goal ever since the implementation of the "Bert Emanuel Rule” -- or the Buc-killer rule, as I like to call it.  If he makes it simpler there will be an uproar every time a WR makes a non-simple catch via replay.  In my opinion the league’s concentration needs to be on obtaining quicker rulings to speed the pace of the game.

Jerry: I don’t know what more the competition committee can do, other than let the officials make the calls and be less reliant on instant replay. It is a very grey area and the ruling usually goes with the call on the field. What more can be tweaked or revised is hard to imagine. The only thing I could think of is to simplify a ruling of what a catch is or isn’t; if the ball touches the ground at any time during the catch, it's an incomplete pass. Yet, isn’t that where we were prior to the rule being changed in the first place?

Former Jets’ center Kevin Mawae says that former Bears’ linebacker Brian Urlacher was a better player than Ray Lewis. Do you guys see it that way?

Jerry: You’re never going to get me to say a negative thing about Urlacher in comparison to the great Ray Lewis. I thought both were absolutely sensational. Both had  great talent, were great competitors and great teammates. I’m glad Mawae said that, because Ray Lewis,  in the eyes of many, was thought to be the greatest middle linebacker ever. Brian Urlachler was on another level as a defensive player, too. He could have started and been a Pro Bowler at four positions i.e. safety, which he was in college, outside linebacker, tight end, designated pass rusher

Tim: Lewis was a ferocious impacting type player who could single handedly take over games.  Urlacher was a more  well-rounded, steady against the run and pass defender who played at a good, even-keeled level throughout his career.  Given the historical rankings of the two defenses along with the Super Bowl appearances, I’d give the edge to Lewis.

Marcus Davenport, a defensive end for Texas-San Antonio, is moving up the draft boards even though he’s only 259 pounds. Are you aware of athletes who climb so late in the off-season?

Tim: This is actually early in the off-season.  It’s harder for the small college players to make a climb until they have been seen in person by the decision-makers via an all-star appearance or workout.  This happens all the time with some maintaining their new lofty status all the way up to the draft while others fall by the wayside.  There are also numerous examples of players from big schools who did not have the production to be a high pick post season but killed it in their workouts and got pushed way up in the draft.  The other area where this happens quite a bit is with the quarterbacks where 3rd and 4th round projected QB’s get pushed up into the 1st round due to a blatant need at the position.  These QB inflation picks usually end up poorly.  See…Dilfer-McKown-Ponder-Locker etc.

Okay. Lets’ throw the old Packers, the old Steelers, the old 49ers and the Patriots into a tournament. Who wins?

Jerry: The Steelers had the greatest collection of talent on both sides of the ball. They totally dominated in their era on offense and defense. No one came close to beating them during their prime. They not only won, they pounded their opponents. How many Super Bowls would the great Dallas Cowboys or Houston Oilers teams have won if not for the Steelers.

Tim: As the injuries add up to these aging has-beens ,the numbers on each dwindle to the point where the whole thing is called off.  In a fantasy recreation I’ll go with the Pats if I can have Belichick running the show because, well…you know he’s alive!

Do you think that Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia will be better head coaches than Charlie Weiss and Romeo Crennel?

Tim: That’s an extremely low bar so I will say a resounding…..maybe!

In your mind, has Tom Brady’s legacy outshone even that of Michael Jordan?

Jerry: Why not? Brady did as much. The catalyst to most all their great successes and certainly to their championships. Who knows another ring people may be saying…..Michael who?

Tim: I’d say yes for the simple fact that football is the more popular game and his greatness has stretched out over a longer period of time, at least nationally.  He will not, however replace Jordan as the greatest athlete of all time.  In terms of the whole world Jordan would rank higher, I believe, after Ali and Pele.  Brady would be down a bit on that list.

Hard question: Which man has contributed more to the Patriots’ dynasty. Tom Brady or Bill Belichick?

Tim: I’d have to go with Belichick for times he has made his teams and players of Super Bowl caliber despite all the personnel changes over the years.  I say Belichick would have won some Super Bowls without Brady.  Would Brady have won Super Bowls no matter which coach or team he played for?  Now that’s a tough one.

Jerry: I love great players, but it takes a great coach to create the opportunities and the development of his players. The Patriots can and  have won without Brady. I’m not saying they could have done what they did without Brady. I’m saying that without Belichick as their coach, winning and their ability to sustain winning as they have, wouldn’t have happened.

I saw a survey this week that had Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Walter Payton ranked as the top three running backs of all time. Your thoughts?

Jerry:  Jim Brown was the greatest running back ever. What he did and the way he did   it,  during an era where everybody on defense had to tackle, was amazing.. The game was different back then, because teams ran it more than they threw it. The Browns won more with Jim Brown than the Bears or the Lions did with their great runners. Brown was never taken out around the goal-line like Sanders was and Brown's size and speed was superior to Payton’s. All were tremendous, but Jim Brown was the best.

 

Tim: That’s a quality list.  I’d have Emmitt Smith ahead of Payton and neck and neck with Sanders.  OJ and Sayers were just as talented or more than that group but come with asterisks.

Former Eagles’ assistant coach Steve Spagnoloa suggests that the Patriots might have had their signals in their last Super Bowl. Is that crying over spilled milk, or do you think bending the rules  (Spygate, Deflategate, etc.) will affect the way the Patriots’ dynasty is remembered?

Tim: The Pats look to exploit every advantage and edge they can get to win football games.  They’ve been doing it for a long time.  At times they’ve gotten caught but most of the time they do not.  It won’t tarnish their legacy or how their own fans feel about them.  Let it go, Louie!

Jerry: It may have tarnished them had they not won so many. But to think  the only way they could have won is to cheat may be a bit of a stretch. When you’ve w0n five or six championship rings, it’s not because you out-cheated teams.

Prediction

New England vs. Philadelphia

Jerry: New England. You're not going to  beat the Patriots with a backup quarterback.

Tim: New England. With Wentz, I would have stuck my neck out and said the Eagles.  I see the Pats rattling Foles and creating turnovers to help them win late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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