Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton stops in to talk about the upcoming 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)
Gary will be here in minutes to take your questions!
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Usually in Week 3 of the preseason, we all know the starters usually play into the second half and then they basically do not play in Week 4 as they start preparing for the rest of the season. After Week 3, most teams know who's on their roster, they know the make up of their team and there is not much to do. I have never seen a year when I've seen more elite teams, like I do now, that are not comfortable with where they are and they do not know their identity. They're actually talking about their veterans in Week 4 to get into some kind of groove, even though that's highly unusual. We can look at teams like the Jets, the Giants, Cowboys, Pittsburgh, to name a few that just don't seem ready to play. That's scary as we hit September. What will be interesting to see if the coaches can resist playing their guys in Week 4 and assuming that once the regular season starts it will work out.
Andy (Erie, PA)
Hey Gary, I am a Detroit Lions fan! I've stuck with them through there ups and downs over the years. How many games do you think they will win this year? How long until they are actually contenders in the NFC?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think they're improved. I think there's a good structure in place. I like their young QBs and I think they have a chance for a run game. But I don't think that will translate into a lot of wins in 2010. They're dealing with Minnesota and Green Bay who are both Super Bowl contenders. That makes it a very tough division. I could see them with 4-6 wins but I think progress will come slow in Detroit. They're on the right track.
Who do you think wins the AFC East? I am confident the Patriots win take the division with the over-hyped Jets hopin for the wildcard
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think three teams could win this division. Not only the Patiots, but Miami or the Jets. But I think this late in the preseason, this is the perfect example of all of these teams having holes. I don't think any of them are heading into the regular season hitting on all cylinders. I just don't trust any of them, including the Jets, even though on paper they look like the most talented team in the division. But I think they talk so much that if they have any adversity, it will be hard for them to deal with it. But I also think the Patriots have OL problems. They have pass rush issues. I don't see a true Super Bowl contender in this division. But that can certainly change.
Gary, have you ever seen a team like the JEts get so much hype, yet have so many holes?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Well, I think they follow their coaches lead and I think they actually do believe in themselves. I didn't see a lot of holes in this team heading into the season. I thought they did a nice job in filling needs. But I think this Hard Knocks TV thing has put them in a situation of talking too much and I just don't know when they get smacked in the face how they'll react. As long as Revis is out, that totally changes the makeup of this defense. Also, keep in mind that even though their offseason acquisitions look glamorous, almost every one of their veterans is a roll of the dice, including LT, Santonio Holmes, Cromartie. Even Edwards, who they got a year ago. A lot of times these big names look good on paper, but it just doesn't all come together. I really liked this team before training camp and I still think they're really good, but something is knawing at me that maybe they're not as good as the hype. Maybe it's nothing more than Mark Sanchez not being as good as we expect.
Quietly a good preseason for the Panther defense, particularly Hardy and Brown. Are you, like me, a little surprised? If Moore or Clausen turns out decent, is this a playoff team?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
No, I think they're far from a playoff team. Although I think they will play hard and play physical, I don't think they can mount a serious pass rush consistently in 2010. That exposes the back end that is not an elite cover unit, though they're not bad. The whole key for this football team will be to run the ball, eat up the clock, not ask their defense to be on the field the whole time and hope their QBs don't make mistakes. You're not going to see a lot of exciting plays and probably more than any other team in the NFL, this team needs to play mistake free football on both sides to have a chance to win.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I just don't think that's going to happen.
Can the Steelers go 3-1 or 4-2 without Big Ben
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I don't know if they can go 3-1 after watching them last night. I really liked Dennis Dixon in the preseason and I can not understand why the coaches like Leftwich more than him. If I'm the Steelers' coaches, I'm not sure what I have and I'm heading into Week 4. I'm not sure the running game and this OL is good enough to be an offense that runs the football and asks the QB to just manage the game. While their defense is really good, I don't know if this is a team that can win 10-7 or 14-10. I think they're a good football team, but if I were a Steelers fan, I would be really nervous heading into the season. It might even take Big Ben more time than we think to get into a groove when he comes back, especially behind that OL.
andyz fort wayne, indiana [via mobile]
considering his age and health, how dominate will brett farve be this year and will it be his last?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I don't think there is any question that this will be it. I don't think there is any drama beyond this season. I truly think this is a one year victory lap. I personally think that the Vikings may take a step back from how they played a year ago, especially Favre. I do not expect him to put up the numbers he put up in 2009, especially without Rice and an iffy Percy Harvin. For them to be elite in 2010, AP has to take the bull by the horns and run the ball effectively and let Favre make plays out of play action and good down and distance situations. I think he's still an elite player, but I just think that he will make more mistakes than he did a year ago. It will be very interesting to me to see if he gets careless if they start to struggle on offense. This is a very good team, but a year ago, everything seemed to gel until they played New Orleans. I'm not sure that Brett Favre can beat the Packers twice like he did a year ago, as the Packers are an elite team.
Gary, you probably already know this but it will be a long season in Chicago with Cutler, as it was last year, it will be again this year with a worse W/L record. It was the worst trade I believe the Bears have ever made and he even got an extension. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Having watched them in the preseason, I would be very alarmed because there is no flow to this team on either side of the ball right now. Offensively, it takes a while to get into a groove in a Mike Martz offense. But their biggest problem is that Martz is so intent on putting up big numbers that he will sacrifice his QB in terms of pass protection with so many 7 step drops and routes that take time to develop. You almost get the feeling that he's willing to trade his QB getting hit for completing a pass that he likes. I think the Achilles heel for this team may be the fact that Cutler gets beat up so much that he's running scared or making decisions that he shouldn't and that in turn could lead to maybe him questioning this offense and that in turn could lead to friction. I hope that doesn't happen but right now this is another one of those teams that I'm heading into the last week of the season and I would be scared to death what I'm seeing on the field, especially on offense.
Just one tiny question, why, why are the Raiders getting hyped up like they are? This organization hasn't had a winning season in 8 years, in fact they have won as many games as the Lions and yet they are supposed to win the west. Unbelivable
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Well, I think in the last couple of years, they've played very hard and they've been almost competitive except at the QB position. I agree with you a little bit. They're so happy to have a guy like Jason Campbell that they like and have a legit NFL QB that they overrate their team. As much as I like him, I don't think he's a guy that can carry the offense. If they're young WRs develop, they can run and catch and have a good offense. There's a feeling that they finally have a legit team.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
In terms of the division, I think they're a little bit excited because no one expects much from Denver and KC. And while San Diego is a strong team, because of their holdouts, they're a little bit vulnerable. I think they think they can play with any of these teams.
Could the Ravens very, very quietly be the best team in the AFC? They are the best team in the AFC North in my judgement.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I'm not sure they're not the best team in the AFC right now. They're an absolute Super Bowl contender. We know they can run the ball. We know they can play defense. Now, we're hoping that they can have a passing game to complement the running game. The best offseason acquisition might be Boldin. He is a chain mover and can get you those yards after the catch. With all of those positives, my biggest concern is in the secondary. They're a team that wants to blitz. They want to get after you. To do that, you have to play some straight man coverages. Right now, I don't like their depth at CB. I worry about Ed Reed's health in the middle. If the front seven don't get there with the pass rush, either offenses will burn their secondary or the Ravens will have to sit back and play softer schemes to protect themselves on the back end. That's not in their nature. If they get healthy in the secondary, this will be a tough team to beat.
what do you make of this QB situation in Arizona?
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
You've had so long to look at this guy. He's not an unknown. You've been around Matt Leinart for 3-4 years now. The reasons that we think he was benched was his demeanor, body language, command of the huddle, etc. These are all things that the coaches have been around for years. So, why now? Even though he had a statistically strong game this weekend. Whisenhunt said he doesn't judge a QB by stats. This might just be a clash of personalities. You have a coach that comes from the Pittsburgh mentality and a QB from L.A. and Hollywood. That might be oversimplifying, but I don't know how you can turn this thing upside down two weeks from the opener. If I'm in Arizona right now, I have no idea what to do at the QB position. I don't believe in Derek Anderson over the long term. But I get the feeling that the coaches aren't sold on Leinart. They better hope to run the football and not ask the QB to win the game right now. I will say one last time, if you weren't comfortable with Leinart, why didn't you make that determination a long time ago?
Gary Horton (4:36 PM)
As we said at the beginning of the chat, this is a week that we already know most of the rosters, now we're just trying to keep everybody healthy. I think we're heading into Week 1 with more question marks to what teams really are than we've had in a long time. The only team that I really think could care less how they play in the preseason are the Indianapolis Colts, because they seem to know who they are better than anybody. I can't say that for every team. That makes it very interesting to watch Week 4 on how these coaches approach the games and if they can resist putting their veterans into the mix.
Buzzmaster (4:36 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!