Ask the Experts: Tim & Jerry

by Gary Shelton on February 9, 2018 · 2 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.

I’m sure you were as entertained by the Super Bowl as I was. What impressed you the most about the Eagles’ victory?

Tim: Their toughness and resiliency and their overall poise.  They never got discouraged despite the Patriots ability to  move up and down the field at will.  You can’t say enough about the “attack mode” Coach Pederson stayed in the whole game.  Other head coaches should take note.  Foles was phenomenal and nearly perfect the whole game ... and he needed to be.  The two TD calls that went their way surely helped.  I thought they were wrong calls on both occasions.  It’s like they changed the rule on a legal catch without consulting the league.

Jerry: The play of their quarterback, Nick Foles. He played four quarters of winning football. They never played around him. They put

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the ball in his hands and he delivered. I've never seen a back-up have a performance like his in a championship game. He was absolutely sensational, as was his head coach who called an ingenious game and never took his foot off the pedal. They were the catalyst to their win Sunday night.

A lot of teams have made it to the Super Bowl lately and have suffered from a hangover the next year. Do you think the Eagles will be able to avoid that?

Jerry: I don’t think anybody can answer that one. They are a young team. Most of their starters are going to return and most importantly their franchise quarterback will be healthy and more experienced. No reason to think anything but good things for the Birds. But history tells us that the curse of success is complacency. We’ll see.

Tim: They have a good chance to break the curse because the guy who is going to put them into contention for many Super Bowls to come didn’t get to play in this one, so he remains highly motivated.  Their defense was good this year but not very good in the playoffs or the Super Bowl.  They’ll be hungry to prove they are a great D.  The running game and OL had their moments this year but injuries and so-so play from the backs will motivate them to get better this off season.  No resting on their laurels for these Eagles.

How do you think the Alex-Smith-to-the-Redskins, Kirk Cousins-to-the-market will work out?

Tim: Alex will be a ho-hum quarterback for a ho-hum team.  Jacksonville was the better spot for him.  With a team like Minnesota, Cousins could flourish and win.  With just an average team, I don’t believe he is good enough to carry them to the Bowl as he has just shown with the Redskins.

Jerry: I think Alex Smith was the best available quarterback on the marketplace. What happens to Cousins will be interesting. Some team will probably pay him the money he’s looking for, but I wouldn’t. Cousins is an 8-8 quarterback. He’s average and average is defined as the best of the worse. If you have nothing at the position, you’ll look at him and overpay him. In reality that team will see, as the Redskins saw, he’s not good enough. Yet, you sunk so much money in him, you’ll be back in the same hole you thought you were getting out of.

In your minds, is there any chance that the Patriots will open the 2018 season without Brady or Belichick?

Jerry: No chance. They are too driven and will never go out as a loser. They are legends in the minds of many, including theirs. Again, no way!

Tim: No for Brady.  For Belichick, I’d say no but he does have a little Parcells to him and would love to show the Krafts he is the reason for all this greatness over all these years.  What better way to do that than to take a team without Kraft or Brady to the big dance?

ESPN predicts six more head coaches will be replaced after this season, including Tampa Bay's Dirk Koetter. It also predicts that Pete Carroll will retire after another season. Does any of that sound right to you?

Jerry: That’s people throwing things out there for effect. I promise you the people they are talking about have no more clue what they are going to do than they do. Do you think Pete Carroll fired both his coordinators, his top offensive line coach, so he can retire next after the season? Right now, Dirk Kotter is an easy target for any naysayer. It’s easy to say that, but we all know that at any time teams can turn themselves around. Why not the Bucs?

Tim: Yes! That is the new norm for the league.  Money is not an object when paying for these coaches and many owners are impatient to win now…they aren’t getting any younger, you know.  Time to work on their legacies.

Do you think Foles returns to the Eagles as Wentz rehabs, or will he move while the iron is hot?

Tim: This guy beats to a different drum and has a very spiritual and sensitive side to him (like Angelo).  He will be consulting a higher power.  So yes….he’s gone.

Jerry: Players careers are often referred to as windows. They open and they close. Foles' window is wide open and he needs to take advantage of the leverage he has based on his performance with the Eagles. He will never wear that Eagles uniform again. Personally, I’d retire his number based on what he did for the Birds. He will be starting next year, but not because of any injury. He earned that right and will take advantage of his window.

The Patriots benched Malcolm Butler, supposedly for a “minor rules violation.” Is Butler to be remembered with Stanley Wilson, Barrett Robbins and Eugene Robinson as players who missed a losing team’s efforts?

Jerry: I don’t know what to make of the Butler benching. There still hasn’t been any confirmation why he was benched other than a coach's decision. Neither Butler, nor Belichick, have come out with anything other than what we heard commentators saying during the telecast. Obviously, something bothered Belichick to do what he did. So, I guess we have to go with a 'coach’s decision.'

Tim: I don’t have the full story.  You’d think that if there was indeed a gross violation of the rules, it would be out there like the aforementioned dudes.  They knew he’d be a free agent post-season and maybe wanted to check out the back up to see if he was up to the task.  He wasn’t.

Rob Gronkowski will wait before deciding if he’ll play in 2018? After all of his injuries, is that understandable? Or is this a play for more money?

Tim: I talked to Stephen Hawking about this and he was sure that this was indeed a play for more cash.  Who am I to dispute that?

Jerry: No, I think he wants to reflect and see if he still has the passion to endure the injuries and pain he has to go through to play. It’s a legitimate concern and I can understand his mindset. In the end, I think he’ll be back because the game is in his blood, not in his wallet.

The Sporting News ranks the Jaguars as the team closest to winning its first Super Bowl, followed by Atlanta, Minnesota, the Chargers and the Texans. Sound right to you guys?

Jerry: I can go with it, but not in that order. I think the Texans are in the best shape, then the Falcons. The Vikings may have peaked and the Chargers will always have a glitch to keep them from being real contenders.

Tim: I’d put Atlanta over the Jags due to the stability at QB position.  Minnesota next then it’s the Texans over the Chargers.

Obviously, it’s early. But who are the five teams most likely to make the playoffs who didn’t make it this year?

Tim: Packers:  Rodgers returns.

Seattle: Carroll’s swan song.  Get their D back from injuries.

Cowboys: Ezekial stays out of trouble?

Raiders: Gruden’s magic.

Ravens: No more flack for Flacco.

Jerry: Green Bay, San Francisco, Oakland, Houston, Dallas.

What did the Super Bowl say about the Patriots’ defense? They gave up 41 points to a backup quarterback.

Jerry: The Eagles' quarterback played exceptionally well. He would have played that way against anyone. The Patriots are a bend, but don’t break defense. Opponents move the ball on them, but struggle to score once they’re in the red zone. The Eagles found away to figure them out and score without relying on their field goal kicker, as most teams do when they get down inside the twenty yard line.

Tim: It says that they weren’t good enough and need to be retooled.  Belichick did a masterful job of cobbling them back together after a very poor start to the season, but they never got to the dominant stage and they were exposed in the Championship game and of course the Super Bowl.  They lost they strength up the middle and that hurt them all year long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil DeBald February 9, 2018 at 8:42 am

Seems to me anyone but Belichick would be hammered by the sports press and talking heads for not playing Butler and for giving no reason – in a Superbowl loss. Maybe I’m out of the loop but I haven’t heard any of that at all, just acceptance that it was a coaching decision. Have to admit I don’t listen to the talking heads much…

Cecil

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Gary Shelton February 9, 2018 at 12:27 pm

There was a bunch of stuff written early. That it was a minor rules violation, and then it wasn’t. Dan O’Shaunessy of the Boston Globe rippled Belichick over it. The entire NFL has taken on the attitude of “this is really no one’s business” in recent years, largely following Belichick’s footsteps I think fans have a right to know.

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