Chat with 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 (4:01 PM)
Starting with Gary Horton shortly!
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Hello! Week 4 was shocking to me in terms of parity in the league. I've never seen so many teams I thought was mediocre play so well or play such great teams so close. You can be bad right now and still be right in the race. If you are a fan of parity, you've got it! Let's get to the questions!
Josh S. (Philly)
What did you make of Kevin Kolbs performance in sundays game?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
When I saw him in the preseason and right at the beginning of the season, I thought he at least looked for the vertical pass even though the coaches always had a check down for him, like with Celek. He looked for the check down first against Washington and seemed hesitant to throw the deep ball or take any chances. I talked to a couple scouts last night and it was their strong feeling as soon as he came in the game, Shanahan basically shut down the offense and said we can win this game with defense. They knew he wouldn't stretch the field and they were right.
Watching the end of that Colts/Jags game I had a question. Can you "goaltend" a field goal? As in jump up and swat away a kick that barely clears the posts. If you can, can you touch the posts? Can you reach thru the posts from the other side, or would you have to be in front of it? I'm sure someone like Calvin or Andre Johnson could do this.
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
That's a very good question. I've never seen it happen. I don't think you can do it but I will absolutely check. But I don't think so.
Chris (Ann Arbor, MI)
With Ben's return, how will Steelers gameplans change? Obviously we should expect more points, but will games look more like 2009 (when they lost)?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I don't think the gameplan will change drastically. I think they really like the formula of running the ball with great defense. After their start, they are not going to immediately go to a wide open passing game. Ben can help 2 ways ... he can make good play-action throws ... and he can extend plays with his feet. He is very good at creating on his own, which is something this team hasn't had much of in their first four games. Expect a fairly conservative offense, allowing Ben to improvise when he needs to.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
Based on the first four weeks, who would you say was the best team in a seemingly weak NFC?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I thought it was Green Bay a few weeks ago. I still think New Orleans is a team with some issues, all of which can be fixed. The Giants played great last night but I'm not sure they are that good. And the Cowboys should be the best team in the East but they aren't yet. So yeah, the NFC is kind of a mess right now. Just when you think you see an elite team, they lay an egg. For example, we all wondered if the Bears were one of the best and they looked like they couldn't beat anybody last night.
Donovan McNabb won a big game last night. However, all I hear is how poorly he played. He lead the Redskins to three straight scoring drives and they sat on the lead. Isn't this league about winning and not compiling stats?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
As I mentioned earlier, I think when Kolb came in, the Redskins changed their gameplan. They felt they didn't have to lean on Donovan to score a lot of points. All they needed from him was to move the chains and let the defense dominate the game. They did not fear the Eagles in terms of scoring a lot of points. Donovan made plays when he had to. He played under control and while it wasn't great, it was good enough to win.
Flacco's performance against the Steelers: Pivital moment in his career or just another win? The final drive was impressive but overall I thought the Ravens moved the ball pretty well throughout the game.
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I do believe this was a big moment for Flacco. Even though he didn't have a gigantic game, he basically put this team on his back when they had no run game because of a banged up Ray Rice. He made the plays necessary. I came away from that thinking we may be at a time when he can win a game with his arm if he has to. I don't think we felt that way until yesterday.
No Falcons mention in your answer to the top team in the NFC question...care to elaborate as to why?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I put the Falcons in that category of a good team that I think is getting better. But I also see them as a team that won't play with consistency on a weekly basis. The 49ers are a good example ... they are struggling but it took everything Atlanta had to beat them. But Ryan is getting better, the run game is good and I am intrigued by the Ryan to Roddie White combination. I see the Falcons as a 10-6 type team that will fight deep into the season to get in the playoffs.
Crying in (SF)
What is going on in SF? It's like watching last nights Bears performance on repeat. They are HORRIBLE!
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
They obviously had to adjust to a coaching change of offense and I thought they did play hard. I thought new OC Mike Johnson did a nice job getting Gore involved and getting the ball to his two best pass catching weapons, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. This was a game they could have won but they just don't seem to know how to finish right now. As bad as they look in a watered down NFC, I think they could climb back into things. I'd be surprised if they continue to play badly for Mike Singletary. I think the light will come on for this team.
Russell W. (New Haven)
What are your thoughts so far on Sam Bradford, and do you think given the Rams relatively easy schedule, that winning the NFC West may be in play?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think Bradford is really starting to come around. He doesn't have great offensive weapons but he is making timely throws. He plays with good composure and I think we are looking at a guy that gets better each week. This Rams team is kind of fun to watch. They play so hard and will only continue to get better.
Shouldn't the Bears go out and try to trade for Mankins or McNeil? I'm afraid their line isn't going to get much better throughout the season.
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
It's not all the line's fault. I don't think trading for one guy right now will give you the answers you need. A lot of their problems are the philosphy of the Mike Martz offense with deep routes and slow developing plays. It makes the QB have to hold the ball longer. Jay Cutler, for some reason, stays away from the short pass or check down and always seems to be looking for the deep play. He makes some throws that absolutely puzzle me. This is not a good OL but until Sunday night, Martz had done a pretty good job changing the gameplan during the game if needed, going to more 3 and 5 step drops. That just didn't happen last night. And the thing that would bother me as a Bears fan, it wasn't a horrible game because of exotic blitzes, this was just getting beat in onee-on-one blocks.
Did LT pull a "Manny" to get out of SD or was he really that bad the last 2 years? Looks like he has made a deal with the devil so far this year.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think LT would have loved to stay in San Diego but the Chargers thought he was finished. I live in San Diego in the offseason and I watched a ton of film on him and I thought he had significantly slowed down from earlier in his career. I am really surprised by his explosiveness right now. I thought his main contribution would be pass catching on third down. But he obviously still has his legs. Keep this in mind ... he may be running behind the best OL in football. San Diego was good but not as good as the Jets.
Do you think Arizona regrets letting Leinart go?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I don't think they regret it. They are a stubborn organization and I don't believe Leinart was ever their guy. But in terms of the talent they have at QB, I think it was crazy to let him go. Anderson is not and was not the answer. This team thinks they are headed to the playoffs and Max Hall is going to take the snaps? The run game is not good enough to cover up the QB problems and they can't get Fitzgerald the ball enough. In my opinion, this team totally mismanaged the QB position and now they are in a world of hurt. This can't be fixed overnight.
Jon (Charlottesville, VA)
How many points can the Chiefs put on the Colts next week? Colts D has looked terrible (at Houston and at Jax) but also has looked dominating (at home with the Giants after a loss)?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
The Colts defense is small, fast and athletic. They are built to play with a lead where opossing teams can't run the ball and control the clock. They will tell you their philosophy is to play the run on the way to the QB. However, opposing QBs know that and run right at them and wear them down. They try to play them more physical than they want to play. They also limit the posessions of Peyton Manning. Time of possession is not as big a concern for the Colts as opossing teams giving them fewer offensive posessions to work with. For the Colts to win right now, Manning has to be almost perfect on offense and the defense has to be at least average.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
As for K.C., they are fast and young and confident and they are the type of offense that could actually run the ball on the Colts and wear them down. It will be a very interesting matchup.
Who do you like tonight Gary?
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
To be honest I kind of like the Dolphins. They are playing very well on defense. Henne to Marshall combo is getting better. I just don't like what I see from the Pats defense, esp. on the back end. They don't have much of a pass rush and that really puts pressure on coverages. I think that will be a big problem for them. It will be a competitive game, but I think Miami will win.
Are the Bronco's really as good as they appear to be ? With Orton leading the NFL in passing is there any chance that they could take the AFC West this year ?
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
I think they now know who they are. A one-dimensional team on offense with a really evolving passing game. I don't think they can run the ball and I think Orton, under McDaniels, will continue to put up big numbers but it won't be enough. It's so unlike the Broncos to not have a run game, but that is the reality. Most of the games they win will be shootouts.
Ryan (San Diego)
The Chargers have the potential to be very very good when they aren't giving up return touchdowns or fumbling. Dont you think they need to be talked about as elite even without Vjax?
Gary Horton (4:37 PM)
What is so frustrating watching the Chargers is when they play a "clean game" without turnovers or silly mistakes, they are a scary team. They are a great matchup offense, have an elite QB and have variety in the run game that gives them flexiblity. Their defense also had a complete game. They can look great one week and terrible the next. But hopefully they are past their September swoon and now they will start to get on a roll. This is a very winnable division for San Diego but it is time to be more than a playoff team. In my opinion the key will be how much the run game improves over the season which I think could be substantial.
Dominic (the office)
Any sort of prediction on how the Lions will finish the season? They seem to be playing well with a backup QB but just cant seem to get the wins.
Gary Horton (4:40 PM)
They remind me a little of St. Louis in that they are young and playing hard. They have been competitive but they just don't have the difference makers. Jhavid Best and Calvin Johnson will be special but the defense is probably behind the offense in terms of playmakers. That DL isn't bad, though. I know it is not much consolation but I think they are headed in the right direction. It's not going to be long before they are a tough team to play. I get the feeling the players believe in what they are doing which is half the battle.
Gary Horton (4:43 PM)
Thanks for all the questions! Sunday might have been one of the most confusing days for me in the NFL. So many teams I thought didn't have a chance to win played well. And maybe it shows you something about the character of players who continue to play hard, despite the fact their teams don't appear to be going anywhere. It is entertaining to say the least. Talk to you again next week!