Chat with Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton stops in to talk about the NFL season and other news from around the league.
Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Send your questions now and join Horton Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I thought yesterday was one of the strangest NFL days I've seen in a long time. From surprising finishes to blowouts. We know there are a lot of bad teams and some continue to play hard and some just lay down. It seems like every week we have upsets that make no sense.
Are the Jets for real?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think they're for real, but I think we overhyped them at the beginning of the season. They still have a lot of talent, but Mark Sanchez is playing like a rookie. I'm afraid without Kris Jenkins that really hurts their run defense. I think they'll be a competitive team, but I think they'll be inconsistent from week to week, which makes it very frustrating for the fans. I think they're on the right track.
Craig (Norwich, CT)
What kind of penalty should Dante Wesley be expecting from the NFL?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
Well, I think a substantial fine is coming. But I think there is likely to be a suspension to be involved. That was a viscious hit on a defenseless player. I can't find any reason to make excuses for him, because that's something you practice every day. To me, that looked like a dangerous cheap shot. That is exactly the kind of hit that the league wants to crack down on right now, so I think the penalties will be severe.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Brett Favre is throwing the ball as well as I've ever seen. Do you think the controlled environment of the Metrodome is helping him?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Well, he's obviously playing in perfect field conditions. He also looks so strong, because he's not having to throw the ball on every down. He's picking his spots. He looks like he's staying fresh. What really impressed me is in the second half when Brett audibled and changed plays, most of the time he was changing out of a pass play into a run play. I think he really gets this offense and their philosophy.
San Diego or Denver tonight?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I say San Diego 21, Denver, 17. But I don't have as strong a conviction about it as I would like. I really expect the Chargers, with their backs to the wall to come out and play a good game. But if we don't see it tonight, then I don't think we're going to see it. This is the game where they need to turn it around and dial up the toughness. I like what Denver is doing, but I think Phillip Rivers can be the difference.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
San Diego has also had two weeks to prepare for this.
Ryan Lenker (morrice michigan)
Why do you think that the broncos are doing so much better with KyleOrton than a pro bowler like Jay Cutler?Personally I think its the running game.
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I tend to agree with you. I think there are three things. The running game is the focus of this offense. Because they don't have a QB like a Cutler that would make you think you could win the game with his arm. The defense is miles ahead of where everyone thought it would be and they are giving the offense good field position and they are making big plays. Third, Josh McDaniels is doing an excellent job of playcalling and knowing what his offensive strengths are. When Orton does throw the ball, it's safe, low-risk passes and that leads to very few turnovers. My biggest impression with this team so far is how intelligently they play and they just don't beat themselves, which is shocking for a team with a first year head coach.
Even though the Patriots proved yesterday that their offense might be every bit as good as the 07 version, which offense would you say is better the 09 Saints or the 07 Patriots cause even the 07 Pats didn't score 45 or more points in 3 of their first 5 games?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
First, you almost have to throw away yesterday's game against Tennessee. If you're a Pats fine, you think that's a great sign. But I saw a Tennessee defense that just couldn't wait to get off the field. So, I'm a little hesitant to pronounce the Pats back on offense.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think it's a great comparison that you made between the '07 Pats and the '09 Saints. I probably like this Saints team, maybe even a little more because they can beat you in any way. They can spread the field in their pass offense. You can't get to Drew Brees because he gets the ball out so quickly, so he negates the pass rush. No one progresses his reads like Brees does. If I'm a 4th or 5th option in the pass game, I'm working to get open, because I know I can get the ball. And they've proven that they don't have to pass to win. Their run game is underrated and their playcalling has been off the charts. This is a very tough team to beat, especially if they are playing in the dome. But I also loved the 2007 Pats. Though I thought they were a little one-dimensional in relying on Brady and the passing game, which isn't a bad thing.
Who would you pick as MVP right now?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think it's almost a dead heat between Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. These guys are putting up numbers on a weekly basis that we just don't see. The numbers are amazing. They're playing with great poise. It looks like nobody can stop them. If you're a fan of good QB play, this has to be a happy time for you.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Do you think Bill Belichick ran up the score against the Titans or did he let off? New England could have scored 80 points if they wanted to.
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think the problem that you see there is the fact that you had your backup QB in the game, but you also need to get him legitimate work. So you need to throw the ball and call the plays you would normally call. That's what they did. I know Bill Belichick has great admiration and respect for Jeff Fisher and he would not ever try to embarrass him. But I think people make way too much out of that.
Brian (Folsom, CA)
With a week off, do you think the 49ers can regroup and get their offense on track?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Yes, I do. I'm confused right now why they played so poorly a week ago. I think they'll be a little closer to getting Crabtree into the mix. Hopefully Gore is getting healthier. Mike Singletary is such a perfectionist that he will identify the mistakes quickly and may have used this time to really work on their weaknesses. I think this is a team that probably takes full advantage of a bye week to correct some problems.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Did the Falcons win or the Bears choke?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think the Falcons won it. It was two good teams that fought down to the end. It's two teams that will be in the mix for the playoffs. I love the way Matt Ryan runs this offense. He has tremendous composure. Having said that, I think the Bears played hard. It was a very competitive game that someone was going to lose.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, with the Packers now facing an easier spot in their schedule, do you feel they may be poised to make a "run" toward the top of the NFC North? Or, do you feel they will be held back by the quality of their offensive line?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
The OL is still a problem. If I'm not mistaken, Aaron Rodgers got sacked five more times yesterday and that's 25 times for the season. Part of the problem is the OL and part is that he's holding on to it too long. I think they're a good team. But I wouldn't get too excited about the win over Detroit yesterday. You're supposed to beat the teams you're better than. I'm still confused about their defense. I loved them in the preseason and early regular season, but it's been a little inconsistent since then. I think Minnesota may come back to the pack a little bit. The key to the Packers will be to beat Minnesota when they come to Green Bay.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
But Aaron Rodgers honestly gives them a chance every week to win, if he can stay healthy.
Did the Giants defense finally start to miss the four starters that are out, or are the Saints just that good. If they meet again in the playoffs with a healthy Ross, Canty and Boley, will that make any difference to the outcome?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think it's a combination of both. Drew Brees is a very tough QB to attack because he gets the ball out so quickly and he can spread you out. It's almost impossible to get pressure. He can make you look back and also be very frustrated. The thing that's bothering me about this Giants defense right now, is I've seen some weaknesses in their ability to stop the run. That would be cause for alarm to me. I think the pass rush will be fine. The secondary has holes. To be successful, that pass rush must force QBs to get the ball out early to protect the DBs in coverage. If that doesn't happen, then they could have some problems.
RE Pats running up the score - Brady came out in the 2nd half. If you truly were not trying to run up the score he would not have played a snap. And they would have stopped throwing the ball once they were up 40 points in the 1st half.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Well, it's really dramatic to bench your starting QB at halftime. I understand what you're saying. But in the NFL, I'm not sure running up the score is legitimate. These guys are paid a lot of money. This offense has struggled recently that they were probably excited that they were starting to look in sync and their chemistry was improving, even though it may have been Tennessee's ineptness that made them look that good. I didn't feel like Belichick was trying to run up the score as much as it was trying to get his guys some work. If I were in New England today, I would be happy about the number of quality snaps my backup got, not just handing it off, but running the offense. I don't think it was an issue. Tennessee had a 11 guys on the field too. They could have chosen to stop them if they wanted to.
Stephen (New Smyrna Beach,FL)
Who dserves mor blame in Washington:the coach or the owner?
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
Oh, I think it's Daniel Snyder. What happened today is a total embarrassment. You hire Jim Zorn as an offensive coordinator, then you promote him to head coach. All along you thought his best attribute was his playcalling. Now you've taken that away and given it to a guy who doesn't even know the personnel. Zorn is a deadman walking in that lockerroom. And your owner has the GM deliver the news. I would have felt better if Zorn would have resigned today instead of staying in this role where he is passing on plays to the QB that were not called by himself. This is a great franchise, but the way they've handled this situation and a few others ia an embarrassment. I know they want to win, but something's not right in Washington.
Gary Horton (4:36 PM)
I'm really looking forward to tonight's game - Denver at San Diego. The Broncos still have people that aren't sure they're this good. And there's another crowd that can't understand why the Chargers underachieve. I think tonight is the defining game for San Diego. This is when they have to turn things around and play with toughness. This is also a turn around game for LT. He's had two weeks to get healthy. The Chargers are a group of talented players that don't play together like a team. There's a lot of drama tonight.