Ask the experts: Tim & Jerry

by Gary Shelton on November 23, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Here at, 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 with "ask the expert" in the subject line. The most interesting questions will be selected.

Thursday, 4 a.m.

The Bucs continue to defend their offensive line, but Doug Martin hasn’t seen daylight for weeks. Yet that line protects the quarterback fairly well. How different are run-blocking skills to pass-blocking ones?

Jerry: The line coaches I’ve been around have always told me it’s easier to teach linemen to pass protect than to run block. Neither are easy to do. It’s takes more repetition to develop a run blocker. There is something to be said about a talented running back. A good running back can  make an average line look good.

Tim: Overall, I'd say the Bucs' line is playing poorly in both

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areas. Too much pressure and too many hits on the quarterbacks in the passing game and nowhere to run in the ground game.   Teams know if you stop the Bucs run game you'll probably win the game.  Part of that is poor-inconsistent  play from the quarterback-wide receiver positions as well as injuries and suspensions to the RBs.  I'll let Coach Angelo address the subtle nuances of the various O-Line blocks.

The Seahawks have fallen to 6-5. Is their run over?

Tim: No.  They're still a good team with a top quarterback and defense.  They've been hit hard with injuries this season which has taken a toll. They still have a solid shot to win the division with a home game vs Rams coming up. They've already beaten them once.  Additionally, the Rams have a brutal schedule down the stretch.  The 'Hawks are still breathing!

Jerry: I think so, their injuries on defense have certainly diminished their chances this year. Their defense is and was the strength of their team. Their offensive line is a real weak spot and an area most all good teams recognize as one of their strengths. In terms of play-makers, they don’t have any player on offense that makes a defense adjust what they do. I really am  growing to like Russell Wilson again. He truly is a fine player and worth the money they paid him, but he can’t do it alone. There are just a few Bradys and Rodgers.

The Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. But the inside whispers say that it is John Elway’s drafts that are the problem. How do you evaluate the mess that the Broncos have become?

Jerry: Anytime you have a coaching change, like the Broncos had in the off-season, they’re usually going to be some type of growing pains. Unfortunately for Denver, it came on the offensive side of the ball. Their quarterback situation is a real mess. They have made their share of mistakes with personnel, but that happens. They need to assess where they are and how they are going to move forward. Right now is when you measure how good an organization is. Everybody loses, that’s a fact. It’s how you adjust -- evaluate your coaches, schemes and players -- that is the litmus test for all club leaders.

Tim: They've made some bad decisions at the quarterback position and that is the main reason they are where they are.  Elway is finding out that being a great quarterback doesn't automatically make you a great quarterback evaluator or head coach selector.  A moral victory for true ex-general managers everywhere.

Titans’ coach Mike Malarkey has called on the NFL to hold officials publicly accountable. What are your feelings?

Tim: Silly.  He needs to be careful here, because public accountability might just bite him in the butt soon if the Titans don't turn this season around.  In other words….stay in your lane Mike.

Jerry: I don’t see anything wrong with that. Everyone else in the league is in the fishbowl when things go wrong. Why not them? They can have as much influence on a win or a loss as any player or coach. We recognize the good officials. Why not call out the other ones. But I think we do call them out when they screw it up. The media does a good job of it. I know that officials are evaluated each week and at the end of the year. If they aren’t cutting it, they’re gone. You can’t undo a bad call, a bad play or a poor game-day decision. Everyone makes mistakes at crucial times of a game. It’s part of the game. To say they go unnoticed is incorrect. No one gets a free pass. There are too many sharks in the water.

At a time the league was throwing big money at quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Brian Hoyer, Case Keenum was picked up for a small contract. But he’s led the Vikings to an 8-2 record. How hard is it to evaluate a quarterback, especially a backup?

Jerry: Almost impossible. Backups are like wine. They age differently, some don’t age at all, but no one can say for sure what’s going on inside those barrels, so to speak.

Tim: It's hard due to so many variables and moving parts.  In many cases, it's all about the fit for these quarterbacks.  Too many are cast aside before they are given the chance to play, grow and mature at the position.  Additionally, it can be the circumstances and surrounding cast. Case is with a team that has a top defense, a fine coaching staff, very good skill position talent and a solid plus run game.  That's a good situation to thrive in. Others were not so fortunate or they just stink.

A story on says that as many as 11 NFL coaches could be fired. Where are all the replacements going to come from?

Tim: Which is why 11 probably won't get fired.  The pool is weak and full of untried and untested candidates who will be replacing the last crop of untried and untested candidates.  The league is such a pressure-cooker that some of these guys aren't getting enough time to build and develop as coaches for their teams.  However, and unfortunately so...most of them just aren't up to the task.

Jerry: Your guess is as good as mine. Where do you find them? Most are found within the professional ranks; usually the coordinators head the list. There always a few college head coaches that will draw attention. But to say for sure is impossible, as history tells us. That’s why it has to start at the top with an organization. There has to be a plan in place and  that plan has to be able to endure attrition while assuring that the ship doesn’t hit bottom. Every organization will take on water, but the key is they can’t sink. When you fire a coach, you’re saying your ship has hit bottom. My feelings are it has just as much to do with ownership as it does the coach.

The Dallas Cowboys are 5-5. The Seattle Seahawks are 6-5. The Broncos are 3-7. Which is the most surprising?

Jerry: None and all. Every year we know that there are going to be misses (teams they played well the year before, but aren’t now). The hardest thing for teams to do is sustain success.

Tim: The Raiders. Weren't they supposed to be great this year?  The Broncos didn't properly address their quarterback situation and that has come back to haunt them.  Injuries and suspensions have hamstrung the other two.  I think the Seahawks still have a shot to make some noise.  The Cowboys have the additional burden of overcoming their owner.

How would you handicap the AFC South race? Jacksonville or Tennessee?

Tim: You'd have to say the momentum is with the Jags.  Their defense is playing lights-out and their offense is protecting the ball and the clock better.  The Titans are too inconsistent and Mariota has not taken that next step we all thought he least not yet.  Jags at Titans awaits.

Jerry: The Jags, they have the better defense and coach.

Bill Belichick didn’t sound impressed with playing in Mexico City. Should the NFL just concentrate on Europe for now?

Tim: Ha! Way to be a team player Bill.  His comments were well-received by the White House.  Less so by the Commissioner's office.  Let's see what he says about playing in China.  Nothing is going to stop the NFL from spanning the globe in search of cash.

Who are the NFL's top five running backs?

Tim: 1. Bell; 2. Elliott; 3. Howard; 4. Gurley; 5. Fournette

The Predictions

Tampa Bay at Atlanta

Jerry: Atlanta. The Bucs are done. In more ways than this Sunday.

Tim: Atlanta. Although I am a Fitzliever

Saints at Rams

Tim: Rams: They bounce back vs a very resourceful (lucky) Saints team

Jerry: Los Angeles: Rams need this one to distance themselves from the Seahawks and will get it.


Jaguars at Cardinals 

Jerry: Jacksonville. The Cardinals are in serious disarray. The coach doesn’t like his team and teams that aren’t liked by their coach usually tank.

Tim: Jacksonville: These guys are starting to believe in themselves.

Broncos at Raiders:

Tim: Oakland: Battle of the bads, so you have to go home field advantage. Which is also in question.

Jerry: Oakland: The Bronco has been broken. You can put a bit in his mouth.





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