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!
Buzzmaster (4:00 PM)
We're getting Gary right now!
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Besides the obvious things that everyone's talking about today, like the Patriots-Colts game, what struck me about Sunday was how many good teams played sloppy games and for the most part, still won. On the positive side that's what they are supposed to do. But on the negative side, you can't mail in games in the NFL. As we have said before, this is the time of year where good teams lose their concentration and upsets are more common. I look at New Orleans, Minnesota, both superior teams that managed to win. I look at Dallas who played a sloppy game and lost as examples. This is when coaches earn their money, trying to get teams to play harder every week.
Rodd Jackson,MS [via mobile]
What do you think of the Bellichick decision last night?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
It's really hard to second guess Belichick, because he is so prepared for every situation and knows exactly what he wants to do. The thing that bothered me in that decision is the message it sent to his defensive players. Basically, I don't trust you enough to punt the ball and keep Peyton Manning from going 80 yards, especially since Manning wasn't playing his best game. My opinion is that something like that could have long term repercussions in terms of your players' attitudes. On the other hand, if the play would have worked, the offensive players would have said, it's great, our coach believes in us and we're the gutsiest offense in football. I understand the decision -- there were 2 minutes left and there was plenty of time for Manning to go 80 yards. But giving him 28 yards to go with 2 minutes, that's handing him the victory. I will be very interested to see how this plays out in the lockerroom, because one of Belichick's strengths is that his players absolutely believe in everything he tells them.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Mr. Horton, are the Jags the best team no one is talking about right now? They have very quietly built a 5-4 record and looking at the AFC right now, they are very much in the thick of the wildcard race.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think they're flying under the radar, but I think that can also be said of Tennessee and Houston in the AFC. I think MJD gives them a chance to be competitive every week, but I don't know if they have enough other weapons to get it done. I think the wild card will be an interesting race in the AFC. They certainly have a chance.
stroudsburg, pa [via mobile]
Where do you see the Cowboys from here?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
That's a great question, because every time I think I have a handle on the Cowboys, I get surprised. I thought before yesterday they had really cleaned up all of their mistakes and were ready to go on a run. I thought they would beat a Packers team that really struggled. I am starting to think this is a front running team that just doesn't deal with success. When they have it, they seem to mail it in. I don't see the toughness and gritiness. Their pass protection stunk against a usually mediocre pass rush. It's not all Tony Romo. They don't run the ball enough. How can you only have 14 rushing plays and 39 passing plays when you're sitting there with your stable of backs? I just don't get it.
After a win by the Vikes at home against the lions, is the NFC North all over or do Green Bay and Chicago have a chance to win the division?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
What Sunday's win for Minnesota tells you is that they are by far the superior team in the NFC North and they can even win when they play a sloppy game. Neither Green Bay or Chicago have that luxury. Hopefully the Vikings got a wakeup call on Sunday and know they can't mail it in against inferior opponents. I don't see Green Bay or Chicago having the players or the consistency to make a run at them. I don't see a wild card coming out of the North. I see the Packers as a .500 team, maybe a little better. And I think the Bears are fading fast.
Andy (Cincy, OH)
What are your thoughts on the Bengals signing Larry Johnson?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I understand it, because of the injury to Cedric Benson, but I'm not a Larry Johnson fan, off the field or on the field. I don't think he has anything left in the tank when I watch him on tape. I just hope he doesn't upset the chemistry of this lockerroom. Although, Cedric Benson had a reputation when he came to the Bengals and he's been great. I didn't think that Larry Johnson would get a job this quickly, but maybe, like Benson, he realizes this is his last stop and maybe that wakeup call will make him productive.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Gary, which team or two are the most confusing to you with their inconsistent play? Titans, Jets, Panthers maybe?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I would say the Jets really come to mind. I really liked them early in the season. I love Sanchez. I thought they had a swagger on defense. They've just fallen apart. Now they're having to eat their words. We saw weaknesses even in the preseason with Carolina and Tennessee. Though I thought once the regular season started they'd turn it around. I'm disappointed in the Giants, the Cowboys, because I don't know who they are.
Whats your take on the Panthers? They began the season playing miserable, now Delhomme is playing smart and both Williams and Stewart are the old smash and dash? Can they get a wildcard and make some noise this year?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think they have a chance. It's an uphill climb, but they have the ingredients to play in a lot of close games. What you mention is their key. I love their run game. I don't think they have enough weapons in the passing game, beyond Steve Smith. Their success totally comes down to Jake Delhomme not turning the ball over. If I'm not mistaken, he's mistake free in the last three games. When they play that way, they have a chance. But their margin of error is slim, because they're not going to blow anybody out.
Why does Andy Reid seem to abandon the run as soon as his team falls behind by 10 points? I can see it late in a game but he does it sometimes before the half.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I know exactly what you're saying and I'm baffled by it. It continues to be their philosophy. I know Brian Westbrook got hurt, but how can you only have 13 rushes and 56 passes against a Chargers defense that's without its nose tackle and very vulnerable up the middle. How can your lead back McCoy have only 3 carries when he's shown big play ability. It seems like the passing game gets away from them every game. Andy Reid is a good coach. Maybe he just feels that's the best way for him to win with his personnel.
Matthew (New Orleans, LA)
If both the Saints and the Colts make it to Miami in Feburary, who would you give the edge too?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Ooooh. I love them both. I just don't know how you can go against Peyton Manning. To me, he's magical. Having said that, he doesn't have a run game and the Saints do. I believe that the New Orleans defense is playing better right now than the Indy defense. This is probably a game that if you were giving position-by-position checks, New Orleans would probalby have more checkmarks until you got to QB and intangibles. That's when Manning comes to play. I would probably pick the Colts over the Saints, but that's a heckuva battle.
Will the loss of RT Marc Columbo be major problem for Dallas the remainder of the year? They have 0 depth on the O-Line.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Well, it's a problem and it's not a problem, because I'm not a big fan of the Dallas OL. They're big guys with marginal move skills. They can not matchup with quick defensive lines, especially on the pass rush. With that said, Columbo is steady and like you said, with no depth that could be a problem. I think they'll have to go to max protection schemes and get the ball out quicker. Romo was running for his life yesterday.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think we're at an exciting time now in the season where there are several teams that we thought out of it are now back in the race for the wildcard. That at least makes things interesting for several cities as we head into November who thought they were out of it. That's a good thing.