Ask the experts: Tim & Jerry

by Gary Shelton on December 8, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

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.

The NFL firing season started this week when the Giants released Ben McAdoo. Except for the basic answer of winning enough, what are the main qualities that a good coach has that a failing coach lacks? Is it luck? Is it time to replace the right personnel? Is it momentum? Is it simply having the right quarterback in today’s game?

Jerry: All of what you said has some truth to it. A good coach coaches the whole team, not just his side of the ball because of his expertise. A good coach can lead his team when they need him the most, when things aren’t going well and/or according to plan. He can keep his players focused and on point. He doesn’t let panic set in while the media is doing a number on his team. He knows how to lead.

Tim: The best head coaches are consumed by the sport and highly passionate about coaching and teaching.  These are high energy,

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tireless workers with extremely high football IQs and a freakish competitive nature.  The truly great ones are keenly aware of how best to use and motivate their players to play up to and even beyond their capabilities.  They will find a way to win games even with mediocre talent and will produce great results with better talent.  Most of these men are insanely driven and to quote Gruden “absolute football junkies”.  As far as the QB goes there is some luck involved but they tend to know what they are looking for at the position based on their schemes and will motivate that guy to play at his very best.  All of these qualities earn the players respect and make them want to play for these coaches.  The bad ones?  Not so much.

Rob Gronkowski has been suspended a game for a late hit. Do you think of him as a cheap shot artist or was it a heat of the moment thing?

Tim: I felt like he was incensed at the DB for what he saw as blatant interference and he snapped into revenge mode.  I have not seen that out of him before.

Jerry: I don’t think of him as a cheap-shot artist, but I do believe what he did was premeditated and certainly a cheap shot. He had too much time to think about what he did and could have easily pulled off if he chose to. What he did was wrong because it was dirty. A one-game suspension was more than appropriate.

Besides McAdoo, the Giants also released general manager Jerry Reese. Again, what qualities separate the good ones from the bad ones as far as general managers? Luck? Circumstance? Momentum? The right coach?

Jerry: You have to have experience. To me looking back on it, that’s vital. Too many things are at your door. Some are planned, some are not, yet you have to act on most of the them. You may or may not have ever dealt with these situations. So, your experiences with other situations matter, because that’s what you’re going to draw from in making decisions. Too many general managers and head coaches don’t have enough experiences to deal with all that is thrown at them. One thing for sure, there is little time for any type of learning curve. You either get it right or suffer the consequences.

Tim: Not as easily defined as the head coach deal.  Smarts along with a high football acumen helps.  He has to be able to make tough decisions that are in the best long term interest of the team and not get caught up in the media perception.  He too has to earn the respect of the players by being firm but fair.  Also has to be firm with the head coach on the tough decisions and he has to keep ownership aware and in the loop at all times.  Having said all that there is a great deal of luck involved and I guarantee your tenure will end poorly.  Being a GM in the NFL is like riding a bull in the rodeo and every second is another season.  So 5 to 6 seconds is a good ride and you’re going to end up on your ass.

What are you most disappointed in? The Bucs defense folding in the clutch, or Jameis Winston’s continued knack of making a simply awful play?

Tim: All of the above plus the lack of leadership from the head coach.  I just do not see good chemistry with this team or a belief that they can win.

Jerry: I'm most disappointed in Winston's play and development. He should have taken a big step this season in the right direction. There is a disconnect somewhere between what his coaches are telling him and what he is doing on his own when things break down. I thought his instincts were good coming out of college. But that’s not the case now that he is the pros. He has some growing up to do. That antic in New Orleans bothered me and this latest off-field accusation is concerning. In life there comes a point where you get it or you don’t. I like Jameis and have always supported him. He’s been a great teammate and a stand-up guy. I’m pulling for him, but the one word that describes all quality quarterbacks: trust.

If you were the interim coach of the Giants,would you return to Eli Manning as the starter? Or now that the plug is pulled, would you leave him on the bench?

Jerry: If there was someone in the wings that I thought could be a possibility for the future, I’d be playing him. But in the Giants' case ,I don’t sense they have anyone they feel that way about. So, I would play Eli. Let the season play out and then do what needs to be done in the off-season. The one thing the Giants can’t afford is any more negative publicity. Losing is hard enough on an organization, storied or not. But to be made to look foolish and disorganized is plain embarrassing.

Tim: Let him start the rest of the season to end his career the right way and then make your move in the off season.

If you’re starting a franchise today, and you can pick any quarterback, who would it be?

Tim: Tough one.  Keenum right?  Okay, Wentz looks like a long-term answer with leadership potential.  Wilson, Goff, Prescott and even Mariota would be in the conversation.  Watson has a chance to crack that group as well.

Jerry: Rodgers.

How about a non-quarterback?

Jerry: J. J. Watt

Tim: Julio if he could stay healthy.  Donald, Foster and Bosa come to mind on defense but none of these guys can touch the potential impact of a young top flight quarterback.

I know the world loves to get silly when dumping praise on a new guy. But after a one-point win against Chicago, 49ers back Carlos Hyde compared Jimmy Garoppolo to Tom Brady. It’s better than being compared to Marcia Brady, but aren’t we kind of ahead of ourselves?

Tim: For sure, but they so desperately want to find the next Montana in SF that the leap of faith is understandable.  It was a good start for Jimmy and a masterful plan on Shanahan's part to keep it simple and keep him out of harm's way.  I can’t crown him just yet.

Jerry: That shows you how delirious people can get when they haven’t won for a long time.

Through 12 weeks, NFL ratings are down 7.9 percent. What does the game need? A tap-dancing Tim Ruskell? A magic show with Jerry Angelo? Better prices at the concession stand?

Jerry: They don’t need anything you suggested. To me, they need to play better. This is the worst I’ve ever seen in the AFC in terms of the number of quality teams. There are two good ones and sixteen poor ones. The NFC fares better, but it's still not what I’m used to seeing. The games simply aren’t that good this season. Let’s hope it’s not a sign of things to come.

Tim: It's complicated.  Here is what we know. It’s still a great game and our nation’s No. 1 sport but it is over-hyped and over-analyzed.  The public is oversaturated by the coverage of the sport.  The game itself is at its best when played as a true team sport by tough passionate players.  More and more it has become a sport dominated by individuals and their stats and achievements which makes for some good highlights and fantasy football moments but bad football at times.  Even more ominous than that is the shrinking interest in football at the youth level fueled largely by concerned parents over the inherent dangers of the sport.  The concussion issue won't go away, and there is no easy fix coming. Changing or correcting all of those issues is no small task and may not be doable.  Soccer anyone?

Now, Jon Gruden is being mentioned for the Giants job? Is he a guy who just wants to be asked the prom but never wants to dance?

Tim: That's probably a true story for Jon, except he never wanted to go the prom.  He got his friends together and they watched his high school games with their gowns and tuxedos on sipping Nehi and eating moon pies.  The Chucky stare wasn't a big hit with the ladies.  Otherwise I have no idea what he wants to do or why.

The Predictions

Detroit at Tampa Bay

Jerry: The Bucs. The Lions aren’t for real and the cover of the dome is gone.

Tim: Tampa Bay. I don’t have a good reason.

Packers at Browns

Tim: Green Bay.  I do have a good reason.

Jerry: The Browns are going to win one, this may be it!

Eagles at Rams

Jerry: The Rams will take care of business and show they are for real.

Tim. Los Angeles. Tough one to call. Eagles did not handle adversity well vs Hawks. Rams are for real.

Vikings at Panthers

Tim: Minnesota.  They crushed adversity in Atlanta and showed their mettle as a team.

Jerry: The Panthers will win this one.

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