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 (3:53 PM)
Gary will be by at the top of the hour to take your NFL questions!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
While there were some fascinating games on Sunday, as a fan, I just hate to see so many games that are meaningless at the end of the season. You're not seeing the true product of the field. I understand all the things that go with it, but it just waters down a great product. I also find it fascinating that three of the four wild card matchups this weekend are repeats from last week. I think the mindset of these teams facing these teams twice in a row becomes a real interesting part of these games.
What are your thoughts on the idea that philly held back some of their gamep lan to save for the playoffs...
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
In theory you would say that's a possibility, because they rarely blitzed, which is their identity. They gave Romo all day to throw. However, the Eagles were a team that did have a lot to play for. The No. 2 seed was at stake, which means they would have had a first round bye and a home game. That shocks me because they played so poorly at Dallas, although they had a lot of chances early in the game. But I don't think they can use any excuse that they were vanilla and were looking ahead, because I don't think they wanted to go back to Dallas. For some teams that holds true, but not for Philadelphia. To me that's the biggest thing of the weekend, how much they had at stake and how poorly they played.
Gary, what do you see happening in the offseason for the Browns? New coach, new qb? What do they do with all those draft picks?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think Mike Holmgren is intrigued by the draft picks and that's why he took the job. I think we'll find out in the next 24-48 hours on Eric Mangini's future. Even though the Browns played well down the stretch and even though Holmgren is a coach's coach and doesn't like to fire guys, I personally think he'll make a change and start fresh. But it's 50-50. Even though this team played well down the stretch, I think they need to develop a new culture and new attitude and that starts with Holmgren. Now, having said that, the head coaching pool is not as good as it was thought to be and Holmgren might look out there and say he's not in love with a guy and may decide to wait a year. He may even in a year decide that he wants to coach. Those factors could give Mangini a one-year reprieve. The guy that would be interesting would be Bill Cowher, but I know that they wouldn't give him the power that he would like.
Did the giants just quit the last 2 games (Carolina being more suprrising bc they were still in the hunt) or were they truly whupped by better teams...
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
One of the other biggest surprises that I've seen the last couple of weeks was how noncompetitive that they were. Regardless of wins and losses, I've always looked at the Giants as a competitive team. This team is not bad by any means, but they were a bad tackling team and I don't think we've played with a passion the last couple of weeks. If I'm Tom Coughlin today, I am in shock with out this team let me down and I have to take a long look at the character of this roster for next year. This would not be a good offseason to be in New York City if you're a Giants player.
Crazy question here - will Welker's injury actually force New England to get creative again with their play calling? It seems lately they've actually used him as a crutch. Maybe they'll spread the ball around more instead of relying on just a couple of the same o'l key plays. Almost back before they got Moss and Welker. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think two things will happen. I think Edelman will jump right into the Wes Welker role and his production will match that of Welker. For example he had 10 catches yesterday and he can catch those slot routes in space. But he's not as creative as Welker and he can't adjust in the middle of the route. That will hurt the creativity of the offense. I think Randy Moss will be forced to run more crossing routes over the middle, which they do not like to do. I love Welker as a player and I think he's the most fascinating receiver in the NFL, but I think this offense is so smart that they can get by and take Edelman's production to a new level. The passing game will look similar to what it has in the past. What I am worried about are the 3-4 third down catches that they usually get from Welker to keep a drive alive.
Dean M. (Portland)
Who's the Raiders' QB on opening day 2010?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
That's an absolutely tough one. I think if Al Davis fires Tom Cable, which I think is likely, that Russell will get another shot. I have nothing to base this on other than I think Al Davis thinks that Russell can be a starting QB. They'll push him like crazy to get him to study and improve both mentally and physically in the offseason. Davis will get a coach that tells him they believe in him. I think they go into training camp force feeding Russell that they think he's their franchise QB. I think that's the direction they will go, though I have nothing to base that on.
How did Barber all of a sudden become so effective vs. Philly after having some poor games...especially with Eagles not blitzing all day
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
Well, the Eagles aren't a very physical defense and Dallas can spread you out with all of their weapons. This is a very talented Dallas run game that has become more finesse than power. I was happy to see Barber run hard on Sunday. But I also expect the Eagles to come back and blitz hard this weekend including the run blitz to close the run gaps that they had on Sunday.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, what's your read on the Vikings? During the past 5 games, they had 2 games where they played really well and blew out Cincinnati and the N.Y. Giants. But, they lost the other 3 games at Arizona, Carolina, and Chicago. Do you think that yesterday's victory will be a sign that the Vikings could get a deep playoff run? Or, are they in trouble in the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Well, I was really concerned about them until Sunday. I think they were fighting for their identity and we know about all of the personalities involved. The reality is setting in in Minnesota that even though Brett Favre came to this team as a caretaker, but they will live and die with the pass and it will set up the run. Everybody knows that whether they like it or not. Favre will be the riverboat gambler that he's always been. That opens up the great run game for AP and Chester Taylor. It's sometimes tough to look in the mirror and change who you are. They were trying to force feed themselves into being that team runs first and passes second.
Would it be more helpful or detrimental for Cutler to fire Turner? Lovie?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Well, I think they're going to fire Turner. I think that's inevitable. There's a good chance Lovie will save his job. What amazes me in Chicago is that it appears that Cutler actually has input into who the coordinator is in Chicago and if he gets along with him. Based on Cutler's performance, it amazes me that he has that perceived input. It's obvious he's not comfortable in Turner's system. Somebody has to go. I'm not saying it's right.
Is Brett Farve going to continue his career in the NFL or resign again after this season. Does it matter on how his team does in the playoffs or not.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think that's a fascinating question, because 3-4 weeks ago, I would have said I absolutely believe this is a 2 year project. But I think the controversy, perceived or not, with Favre and Childress, probably left a bad taste in his mouth and there is probably a power struggle there. For that reason, I think it could be a one year deal where Favre says he doesn't want to deal with it again. I don't think winning the Super Bowl changes anything. That means that we had fun in the playoffs so let's do it again, because Favre has already done that. It comes down to does Favre want to have a power struggle again during the season? If the philosophy of pass first, run second continues in the playoffs, I think Favre could stay another year. He's played well. His skills are not declining, they're winning ball games. And he still has a tremendous run game at his fingers. It all comes down to the relationship with Favre and Childress.
do you see the packers making it to the nfc championship game. after all aaron rodgers and the team in general has gone through the last few years, i think it would be great if we had one more shot at favre
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Oh, I think they're a very dangerous team. I think they have an excellent chance of beating Arizona again this weekend on the road. Rodgers is playing mistake free football. He has a lot of weapons at his disposal and they have a defense making plays. This is a team that can play with anybody and they can score a lot of points. The biggest change has been improved pass protection for Rodgers. I think they're entering the playoffs with a lot of confidence and momentum. I think they would love to get another shot at Minnesota.
Can you see the Cowboys going to the Super Bowl?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
Yes. Ironically, the teams we said a month ago that were Super Bowl teams, New Orleans and Indianapolis both look vulnerable. Dallas is a hot team. They have tremendous weapons on offense and they're playing well on defense. I believe that their confidence will carry them again past Philadelphia this week. I think they can go into Minnesota or New Orleans and win. I'm not saying they will, but I don't think they're intimidated by anybody. If Romo continues to play like this, then they'll be tough to beat. Ironically, I like the wild card teams in the NFC, Green Bay and Dallas, maybe as well or better than the divisional winners. I think you could almost say the same thing in the AFC with Baltimore and the Jets.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I think even though 3 of the 4 games this week are repeats from Week 17, I don't think there are any gaurantees that the results will be the same. I think the teams coming in at the end are hot and I'm not sure there are any favorites right now that you can feel great about. I think it's wide open, with maybe San Diego maybe playing the best football down the stretch. I look at these 12 teams and it wouldn't shock me if any of those teams made it through January.
Buzzmaster (4:31 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!