Chat with Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton
Send your questions now and join Gary in The Show on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
Obviously the playoff races are coming down to the wire. I'm writing a column this week, and I don't know that I've ever seen so many races decided this far out, and most of the seedings in place. All the drama goes to the six seed in both leagues, in which it looks like Minnesota and Cleveland will emerge.
Sean (Humboldt, CA.)
Can a good, offensive minded coach save Alex Smith's career with the 49ers?
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I still think he can play. Obviously his relatonship with Mike Nolan may be irreperable. He was a great player coming out of college and played well under Norv Turner. He just needs a good mentor offensive coordinator that can form a bond of trust with him. You just have to take time with him and make sure he's fundementally sound.
Greg Ashburn ,va
What's the feeling on Joe Gibbs with The washington Redskins? With All that has happened to them do you see Joe Gibbs leaving after 2007 season?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
That's an excellent question, and I don't see the Redskins becoming dramatically better in one offseason. They are a competitive football team, but I don't think this is a situation where Gibbs looks at it and says, oh boy, next year we're going to be great. You sort of get the feeling that he's getting tired of not making the progress everyone would like. I think it's his decision and he won't be pressured to be fired. I wouldn't be surprised if both he and Mike Holmgren walked away to pursue other interests.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, what do you feel are reasonable expectations for the Vikings for the rest of the 2007 season? Make the playoffs? Win a playoff game on the road?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Right now they are the odds-on favorite to be the number-6 seed and get in to the playoffs as a wild card. I believe they'll beat Chicago easily this week. Their last two weeks, they play Washington at home and away at Denver. both are winnable. I think they'll win two out of three to finish 9-7, which sets up a wild card weekend to face Seattle. I think they can win that game, and if that happens, they would probably have to go to Dallas, which is a much different deal. But they are clearly the team no one wants to play in January.
sam (new orleans)
Granted it was vs the falcons, but what did you think off the saints offense WITHOUT bush on the field?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think Aaron Stecker ran well, which is a bright spot, but any success they have the last three weeks will come down to Drew Brees making plays and hoping their own defense doesn't give up big plays. They dug a hole for themselves, and while I think they'll beat Arizona, I don't think they can beat Philly at home and Chicago on the road, which would either put them at 7-9 or 8-8. This is going to be a year that the Saints look back on and easily see all the missed opportunities that they let get away. They should be a a playoff team, and they're probably not.
Why is there such a disparity between the really good teams and the really bad teams this year? Usually it seems like there are a lot of average teams in the NFL and a few really good and a few really bad teams, but this year it seems like there are many good teams and even more terrible teams and only a few average teams.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
That's a great question. I'm not sure that I have a good answer. It really comes down to personnel, and the teams that are on top, which have done a great job of acquiring players. The teams on the bottom have not. I read a quote the other day saying the Dolphins have zero guys on their roster from the 1998 to 2003 drafts. You'd have at least three from each draft on most teams. That would be 18 players that they don't have who would be contributing. I think it comes down to the teams that do the best job with personnel.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
And, they all have outstanding quarterbacks that can carry the load.
What is it with McNabb? The team just doesnt seem to want to play for him. Has he lost his role as this teams leader? Does he stick around for another year?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think that's a tough decision for the Eagles because they have no idea what they have in Kevin Kolb, and it's very dangerous to trade a guy like McNabb before you know what your young player looks like. It's impossible to bench him now and look at Kolb, so they're in a catch-22. I think he's the leader of that football team, and they will play hard for him, but they just don't have enough weapons. You could start over and rebuild this team with the young QB, or you could keep McNabb as the best chance to win a year from now. I think Andy Reid would like to keep McNabb. I don't know that that is the sentiment of the organization.
Kris (Greenfield MN)
Considering the steelers poor pass protection recentley will they look to re-sign Faneca and draft a center? look for help in free agency?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I don't think they can keep Faneca. That's a bad relationship, and he is a very principled guy. I don't think there's any way he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, because there is a trust issue. Most of the problems are on the right side of the line, and they will have to be addressed. This is a unit that needs two or three new players, and I don't know that they can accomplish that in one offseason. Rebuilding this line is a bigger deal than most people realize, and it's a key to their success.
Gary, Jets question please. I know they need alot of help but while Vilma has struggled is cutting or trading him the answer? Seems like that shoule be the least of their problems?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think he's a good player but I've been told he's unhappy or uncomfortable in their 3-4 scheme. The best answer may be to trade the player. The Jets are smart and will not just give him away. It could be an interesting offseason for Vilma. I don't think he'll be in a Jets uniform a year from now.
If Harrison is back for the playoffs full force are the Colts the only team that can match New England score for score?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Probably that's the case in the AFC. Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and San Diego are all teams that you would not predict could score in the 30's against the Patriots, which it would probably take to beat them, so I would have to agree that the Colts match up better than anybody else. You're right; to beat this team you've gotta outscore them. Indy is not afraid of going to Foxboro and playing that type of game.
PT (Franklin, NC)
What is the main thing the Raiders need to do to be able to compete for the playoffs next season?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Change their name to the Patriots or Colts. They're not close to being a playoff team although there are positive signs. They could be a fairly successful running team a year from now, and their defense is at least innovative if not always great. You're heading into a 2008 season where you don't knwo if your QB can play, where you lack depth, and lack explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball. They're not close to solving those problems.
Is NT the hardest position to fill? Wilfork was the last dominant player drafted, and that was five years ago.
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
It's a special position because you need a big, physical guy that can hold his own at the point of attack, but is athletic enough to penetrate. Finding big guys is easy enough, but those with good feet and athleticism is a different story. I don't know it's the hardest to fill. A 4-3 DE pass rusher is a tough guy to find, and there are other positions you could argue about. A big, physical nose tackle like Wilfork, Jamaal Williams or Casey Hampton can solidify the interior of your defense.
What are your thoughts on the Bills-Browns game this weekend... You think the Bills defense can slow down the Browns offense enough to steal this one?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think it's great that these two franchises have a meaningful game in december, and that the Bills are still competitive with their injuries. I watched a lot of film on Cleveland, and they are balanced on offense, explosive, and great in the red zone. They can score in the high 20s, and I'm not sure that the Bills can match that, even with Trent Edwards playing better. I expect them to win this game at home because of that red zone offense.
David: (Sheboygan WI)
Can a healthy Packer team go into Dallas and win if they meet in the NFC championship game. I keep hearing Dallas in the best team in the NFC because they beat Green Bay I think it will be a better game with a healthy Packer team. Your comments
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Yes, I believe they can. It would be harder for Dallas to go into Green Bay, but the Packers team I saw last week showed me something with the run game, and I believe they can be more physical than most people realize. Brett Favre can have good production vs. a Dallas secondary that is vulnerable. If these teams met in Dallas, the game might come down to the success of the Cowboys' run game to control the flow, and also the pass protection of the Packers' o-line vs. an underrated Cowboys pass rush. It should be a classic wherever it is played.
James (Corona, CA)
Your in charge of the Lions next year...what area do you focus your attention the most on? O-line, D-line, secondary, coaching?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Not a wide receiver. I would look at the offensive line, although as long as Mike Martz is there, it may not matter because he won't protect his QB anyway. They need impact players on defense--athletes that can change a game around. When you analyze the Lions, they have pretty good personnel, they're just not consistent or disciplined. They will have to look at the QB position soon because Kitna is close to the end. This is not a team that has as many glaring needs as you'd think.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
This will be a great week of football, probably headed by the Jets and Pats, but I'm very intrigued by the Browns and Bills, a little bit intrigued by the Cardinals and Saints. Baltimore and Miami, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh--these should be interesting games. It's always interesting to see which teams fold their tents and which play hard. This will be the first week that we'll see that.