Ask the experts: Tim & Jerry

by Gary Shelton on January 18, 2018 · 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.

Thursday, 4 a.m.

I would assume that most non-playoff teams are looking at the post-season field and trying to figure out what they don’t have. If you ran the Bucs, there are a lot of things, but what strikes you as the biggest need?

Jerry: Easy! Pass rushers and quality offensive linemen. The same needs they had last year.

Tim: Leadership across the board.  Players and coaches.  I think the Glazers had a real chance to find a better fit at the head coach

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position and they punted.  They need better talent to be elite, but they have enough as they are to be a winning team.  They lack discipline and accountability in all areas.  Specifically, the O-line play must improve especially in pass protection.  On the D-Line they need a rusher you fear and adjust for.  In the secondary they could improve across the board.  Still no shut down corner or safety you fear.  Offensively, Winston has to mature and become more poised and disciplined and become the true leader of the team, not just a cheerleader.  It’s time to find a number one back to be the workhorse and carry the load.  I like the core of receivers but Evans scares me for his inconsistency, lack of poise and lack of discipline.  I guess what I am saying is that I don’t see next year being the year of the Bucs.  Aren’t you sorry you asked?

As we know, the decision to bring back a coach is a big one. But how do you explain Cleveland bringing back a coach who has one win in two seasons and Tennessee parting with a guy who took them to the divisional round in Mike Mularkey? Do you think Mularkey got a raw deal from the Titans, or did the franchise need to move on?

Tim: Cleveland can’t be explained.  As far as Malarkey goes.  I believe that they made a decision some time during the season that he and his staff were not going to be able to get them to the Super Bowl.  Once they strung some wins together at the end of the season, including the playoff win,  they may have felt it necessary to offer him a deal on their terms that they probably thought he would not accept…and he didn’t.  That deal may have included less years and less money than his people would have wanted and it probably had some provisions that included the partial overhaul of his coaching staff which Mike would have most likely struggled with.  Just pure speculation on my part.

Jerry: The Browns owner is a moron when it comes to making football decisions. It’s a joke to keep a coach who has gone 1-31. What could he have possibly shown you to make you feel good going forward. He’s made so many bad decisions we're tired of laughing. The Titans obviously felt they just needed to move on. It’s tough after the coach gets you to the playoffs, wins a playoff game on the road and then you fire him. On the surface it wouldn’t make sense, but sometimes you as a general manager and-or owner decide that there is no longer hope with your coach and it’s just time. This happens over a period of time, not in a moment.

Has the Super Bowl window closed for the Steelers in the Roethlisberger era?

Jerry: No, the Steelers have a very good roster. The testament to that is the amount of players they sent to the pro bowl. They have some things to address internally. Sometimes it deals with coaching, sometimes players, but whatever the reason, they underachieved this year.

Tim: I’d say that is probably the case, but this organization always seems to find a way to keep winning even when it involves changing the head coach or the quarterback.  I do see Ben as being on the decline.

How do you see the end of days coming for Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger? Will their teams stick with them one season too long to squeeze everything they have or, like Joe Montana and Joe Namath, do you see them in other uniforms?

Tim: All three of those guys have a better than 50-50 chance of playing it out with their present teams.  Brees would be the most likely candidate to go elsewhere because, unlike the other two, he is not an original with his present team.  None of these teams has an heir apparent waiting in the wings so sticking it out looks like the only option.  The Pats had that all set up with Garoppolo and Brissett….then poof! It was gone.  That could be the source of some of the chemistry problems they are having in management right now.

Jerry: Absolutely their teams will stick with them, primarily because they still are the "Team." Can you imagine any of those teams playing without them? As long as they can take a snap and find an open receiver. They will play as long as they can and go out on their terms.

They’ll remember the “Minnesota Miracle” for a long time in Minneapolis. They’ll remember the missed tackle for a long time in New Orleans. Does that rank with The Catch, with The Drive, with the other great plays we’ll remember in the playoffs? What was your favorite?

Jerry: Probably "The Catch." Unfortunately, at the time, I was working for the Cowboys. So that one really stuck with me in more ways than one!

Tim: Yes, that one goes down in the history books.  My favorite was the “Hail Mary” catch in the Cowboys vs. the Vikings playoff game circa 1975.  Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson.  I grew up a huge Cowboys fan and that was one sweet moment.

How would you handle Marcus Williams, the safety who whiffed on tackling Diggs?

Tim: You tie his hands and feet together.  You dip him in maple syrup and leave him next to a beehive for a day.

Jerry: I really feel bad for the kid. You just tell him to forget and move on. Nothing more can be said. No one will ever forget the play and-or the consequences, but you can try to be better in the future. He just panicked, plain and simple. I think he’ll come out of it and the fans will forgive him. Just a bad luck play. Move on; if he can’t he’ll have a short career. Skeletons only die if you don’t remember them as a player.

Vikings’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will supposedly take the Detroit job over that of the New York Giants? Do you understand his reasoning?

Jerry: Yeah. Stafford over Manning. Patricia has familiarity with the Lions GM, given they worked in the same building for a number of years. The Lions are in much better shape to compete for the division championship, than the Giants. I don’t know one good reason you’d take the job in New York over Detroit. Times have really changed, who would ever think someone would be saying it or doing it!

Tim: Yes and no.  They feel they can win with the quarterback and surrounding talent, but they also feel the defense underachieved.  Teams typically go for the head coach who can fix their biggest area of need and, less we forget,  he is on the Patriots staff just like the new general manager was.

Tom Brady now finds himself in a Final Four that includes Blake Bortles, Nick Foles and Case Keenum. Can anyone stop him?

Tim: Yes, but it won’t be easy.  If Sacksonville can find a way to pressure him and hit him consistently they could limit the damage he could do.  New England isn’t set up to be beat just running the football.

Jerry: I think you have to say, at this point, the Patriots are the favorites. If the Vikings win Sunday and are playing at home, that may be a game changer. All these teams are about the same personnel wise. They are well coached. They should all be good games.

Former Bucs’ quarterback Chris Simms said last week that Blake Bortles was the 70th-highest ranked quarterback in the NFL. Seriously, now that Bortles is in the AFC title game, where would you rank him?

Jerry: Close to the bottom. But you know what: He hasn’t lost games for the Jags. The way their team is built, they are going to win because of their defense. What Bortles has been able to do is not turn the ball over and make some key plays, particularly with his feet, to keep the chains moving.

Tim: That’s too harsh.  He reminds me of Dilfer in a lot of ways.  You can win with the guy with a strong defense and a strong run game.  If he just doesn’t turn the ball over you can win.  Last week was as good as he can play and it was surely good enough.

Which of the four remaining coaches have done the best job to get here?

Tim: All have been excellent and receive A+ for their efforts.  Envelop please….drum roll……the winner is:

Zimmer. He has overcome:

The loss of his starting QB. The loss of his back-up QB. He won big with his 3rd QB. He transitioned to a new stable of RBs post-Peterson. He had five eye surgeries. He expertly managed this team with poise and strength. He is a good human being

Any questions?

Jerry: I would go with Marrone. He is in his first year as a head coach in Jacksonville with a team that has basically done little up until this year.

The Predictions

Jags at Patriots

Jerry: The Pats by a couple of touchdowns.

Tim: Pats. I wanted to go Jags to change the dynamic but it is unlikely

Vikings at Eagles

Tim: Vikings. They're a team of destiny!  It’s the Cast-Off bowl and the Vikings have the better one

Jerry: Vikings. They look like the team of destiny.











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