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 (4:01 PM)
We're getting Gary!
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I was really surprised in Week 1 at how many teams that we thought were elite didn't look ready to play. I don't know how that happens, but I look at teams like Dallas, Cincinnati, San Francisco, just to name a few teams that just didn't look ready to play. I don't know how that happens.
Clay D NY [via mobile]
It's looking like last year for Jason Campbell early. Oakland's offensive line looks horrible. Can they get it fixed, or was it more of a good Titans defensive front?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I think the Titans are really an improved team. They are physical. They play hard. But I think that they want to throw the deep ball with Campbell and that takes time to develop. His OL hasn't shown the ability to hold those pass blocks on 7 step drops. You don't think of the Raiders as a dump off offense. I think it will continue to be a problem. They are another team that I thought would be dramatically improved. They're another example.
Clay Defayette NY [via mobile]
I'm not saying Matt Ryan's rookie year was a fluke, but doesn't he need a good running game to be effective? Michael Turner hasn't been the same since two years ago. Yesterday against the Steelers it didn't look like he was attacking the line of scrimmage hard. Is that only my tihnking, and can Ryan succeed in a pass first offense?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
Well, not really. That's another example of a team that we expected a lot more out of. The Falcons are at their best when they run the football and slow the game down and allow Ryan to use playaction to get one on one matchups because defenses are putting 8 in the box. Until people respect the run game, they're going to sit back and play the pass scehemes and he won't get the one on one matchups that he wants. I think they'll get better, but they're not going anywhere unless they get the good running game. This is not an offense that will outscore you week in and week out in a shoot out.
joe (cubicle hell)
Hi Gary... what is your take on the Johnson incomplete pass. It sure looks like he has possession and is getting up to celebrate when he lets go of the ball. I would be willing the bet his next TD he carries the ball to Coach Schwartz.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I agree with most of the experts who have weighed in on this. I think the call was probably right, but the rule was wrong. As a fan, I would say he held on to it long enough and they should have given him the touchdown. I can't imagine losing a game in that manner. But if you adhere to the letter of the law with the ruling, it wasn't a TD. But it will obviously be changed in the offseason and hopefully it won't happen again.
Gary great to have someone of your expertise working these chats! What's your take on Ryan Mathews for the outlook of the season? SD obviously loves him, but can he put up numbers anywhere near LT's rookie season?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think he's going to have a terrific season, because they're going to give him the ball a lot. He is their run game. He allows Sproles to be a third down back, which is what he is. The only problem that Mathews might have is he really struggles with pass protection and blitz pickup, which all rookies tend to have a hard time with. But he's explosive and he runs hard. He can help set up Rivers in the passing game. Keep in mind that Rivers and the WRs are so good on those vertical routes, it's almost impossible to put 8 in the box for run support. That should give Mathews much better run lanes.
McNabb beats the Cowboys and the Eagles still can't solve their short yardage problems. Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I thought Washington beat a superior team because they played a very smart and efficient football game and Dallas didn't. I think the Giants won a game that they shouldn't have won. I don't think you can draw a lot from it yet. There were things that I liked about Philadelphia, including a much more aggressive blitz package, at least in the first half. That made Rodgers uncomfortable. But they don't know what they have at QB. I'm a little worried about Philadelphia taking advantage of the vertical passing game, part because Kolb has trouble with the deep ball and part because the OL has a hard time in pass protection. I don't know about the NFC East, because there doesn't seem to be an elite team.
Kevin (Warrenton, VA)
As a former scout, what are your thoughts on Jamaal Charles?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think he's a really good back. He runs hard and I think KC wants to win this game by being very physical. I think it comes down to how the Chargers will play inside versus the run. If they can force Charles to have to run east and west, rather than hit holes between the tackles, it allows the persuit to catch up. KC to this point has proven that they can't win if they can't run.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Is their any excuse why Cleveland is not depending/using J. Harrison moore? I cant understand how he only got 9 carries at over 5yds a carry!
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
It looked like at least in Week 1 with Mike Holmgren's West Coast offense influence. I thought that Cleveland was so limited that they would run the ball and be physical. But instead, they threw the ball. I think their best way to win is to get the ball to Cribbs. It's an interesting game plan for Cleveland. I think they can be a fairly effective running team.
Kevin (Warrenton, VA)
Even though the Ravens have a stellar Run D, the Jets should stick to their guns and try to grind it out the Greene/LT right? The Jets win if they have success running the ball?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
To this point in the season, I have not seen anything to feel that Mark Sanchez can beat the Ravens throwing the football. Having said that, I think Baltimore will load up to stop the run game. They will give Sanchez one one one matchups on the outside and almost dare him to throw the football. I think you're right, it becomes a battle of wills. I would try to pound the ball and then take some play action shots with Sanchez, especially in the middle of the field, where the Ravens are missing Ed Reed. If they can run the ball well early, they might bring the safties up. You obviously need to pick your spots. But this is not a time to spread the field and give the ball to Sanchez.
Clay Defayette NY [via mobile]
The Eagles have some nice names on the offensive line, but aren't they terrible? Vick did better than Kolb in part because of his mobility or no?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think this is a line that's in a little trouble. I know going into the season, they showed a lot more three and five step drops for Kolb where he got the ball out quickly. That sometimes negated the pass rush. Of course with Vick he can scramble and run his way out of trouble. The problem is that you have some nice vertical weapons in this offense, but I don't know if this line can hold up in seven step drops. I think that can eventually become a problem. You also don't have a great playaction packages, which helps get you the vertical matchups.
Is there a cause for concern in Niner Land after their deflating defeat yesterday?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think the answer is yes. Not that they lost, but how they lost. This should be a very disciplined and focused team under Mike Singletary, and yet guys like Crabtree drop passes, run the wrong routes. They gave up too many plays. They were a horrible 1-15 on third downs. They had to abandon the run game early and they had too many penalties. This team is not good enough to win each week if they play sloppy. I was very surprised at how lethargic they looked on Sunday against a Seattle team that looked very beatable. Now they have to face New Orleans coming to town, who could really embarrass them if they put it together. We may have, including myself, just overrated the 49ers. Right now, I don't know if Alex Smith can carry this offense if they're not going well.
Mike (Chicago, IL)
Will the Chargers keep Gates in to protect Rivers on the left side of the line, or let him loose down the field?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
The last thing they want to do is help out their LT, but he's facing the Chiefs best pass rusher in Hali. Because Arrowhead is so loud, Dombrowski will probably have to work from a silent count which is even tougher. The Chargers don't want to have to use Mathews or Gates in pass protection and they will try to get away from it. A big part of this game is how Dombrowski holds up. I guess Gates could chip Hali on his way out. But this is a vertical passing game and that takes time.
Even with 4 preseason games, there were some ridiculously sloppy games this week. I can't imagine watching week 1 with only 2 preseason games...
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think that's certainly something you have to look at now. The reality is that games 1 and 2, you're looking at the rookies and fringe players. The only game you take seriously and use your entire squad is game 3 in the preseason and game 4 you rest your starters. So, it's not so shocking that the teams look sloppy because there has only been one game that teams take seriously. I think if we only have 2 preseason games, we'll see more scrimmages and teams working against each other and more organized practices. But I agree, some of these teams look like they're still in the first or second week of practice.
Any cause for concern in Indianapolis or more of a case of shoddy execution combined with good play by the Texans?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
No, I think there is huge cause for concern, because of the way that Houston walked all over them. We know this is a small Colts defense and Houston outphysicalled them. It's not a matter of limiting Peyton's possessions, because you know he scores so quickly. But I think other teams will look at this and say you can wear down this defense. I also think the Colts are in big trouble until they figure out a way to run the football, to not make Peyton win every game by a shootout. I know the Colts don't take the preseason that seriously, but I came away from Week 1 alarmed at how they were manhandled by Houston.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Mr. Horton, Week 1 is hard to judge teams because you never really know which winning teams are truly that good and which losing teams are that bad. That being said, in your opinion, which week 1 game was the most telling for the teams involved?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
It might have been Dallas and Washington, because I watched the Cowboys throughout the preseason and I thought they were a mini version of the Jets and the fact that everyone talked about their talent level. One week they're in San Antonio practice and California and then back in Dallas. They seemed like a PR machine but I never saw them click while playing football. Against Washington, they looked lethargic, they didn't make adjustments, they were outcoached. I really hate to use the term outcoached, but there really seemed to be some decisions that didn't make sense. I didn't see a flow to this team. They looked like the same team we saw in the preseason. Wade Phillips is a good coach and they have a lot of players, but something is missing.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I think we have two really interesting games tonight. I'm fascinated by the Jets and Baltimore. To me these are two bullies. I'm really intrigued to see which one gets smacked in the mouth first and backs down, if either one does. There's a lot at stake in this game.
Buzzmaster (4:32 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!