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!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
We seem to say it every week, that this is the most unusual NFL season that I've ever been around, but I was again amazed at some of the games. After watching Cleveland embarrass New England a week ago, I was sure Pittsburgh would do the same. But it goes to show you you can't count out the heart of a champion. How can Dallas go into New York and beat the Giants? How does a team without a run game like Denver destroy a team because of the run game? The Jets continue to squeak by, are they lucky or good? And it looks like nobody wants to run away with the division. The final observation is that it looks like Minnesota is a tired team. They remind me of a group that's in mid-December waiting for the season to end. If we love parity, this is our season.
Gary, in all your years following the NFL, have you ever seen a team quit on their coach to the extent that the Cowboys quit on Wade Phillips?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
Based on how they played Sunday night against the Giants, you might have to come to that conclusion. What baffles me here is this is a team that seemed to like Wade Phillips. They didn't want him fired. They just didn't play real hard, but on Sunday night they looked inspired with Jason Garrett. They looked like the talented team we always thought they were. I'm baffled by it because it's not a matter of them just not liking their head coach. The difference in last night's game was pass protection for Jon Kitna. He can make all the throws if he has time. Against a usually great pass rush, he had time.
Gary, I don't understand Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf at all. Would you fire Brad Childress now if you were in his position?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I thought it would be tempting after the loss, but getting ready this week for Green Bay, a big rivalry and a win would give you and outside, outside chance of getting back into the race, I think this decision is probably put off until after this game. I've already had some people telling me that it's a two-week window for Wilf. We'll just have to see.
What do you think of my browns and colt mcoy
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think the Browns are really headed in the right direction. They play hard, they are having fun, they have confidence. I love the run game and the poise of Colt McCoy. This game is not too big for him and I believe he and Hillis can give this offense enough punch to keep them competitive. They played two good teams the last two weeks and deserved to beat both of them. They're headed in the right direction.
Gary,if the colts get some injured players back can they make a run?Also,what do you think of pat angerer and will he be a good player?thanks
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
Sure they can, because they have No. 18 at QB. He's always going to give them a chance, especially when you get to the playoffs and it's a one and done scenario. I just don't think the window is as wide as it used to be. The lack of a run game and inconsistent defensive play can hurt them in a playoff game. But they have a formula for winning, which is jump to an early lead, force the opposition to throw the ball, where they can fly on defense. That's a tough team to play in December and January, especially if they get some of their offensive players back. It amazes me that Manning can plug in guys you've never heard about and have them make plays in their system.
W Will (Minneapolis, MN)
Will the Dolphins run more Wild Cat with Tyler Thigpen at the helm or do they have faith in him to run more conventional offensive sets?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think we'll see more of the Wildcat. I was convinced that it was being phased out of the offense with Henne and even Pennington to a certain extent. It gives the defense more to prepare for each week. I think we're back to seeing it more than you think.
Ben (Baton Rouge, LA)
Is it safe to say that the Bears will lose to Miami, then turnaround and beat Philly? They look like a wild card playoff team to me, what do you think?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I'm just not sold on the Bears. I will admit that I like them more the last two weeks, because they're at least trying to show offensive balance. I do think their defense plays hard. But I just don't trust this team. I think they have too many periods of inconsistency. They will make mistakes at the wrong times. They just don't look like a playoff team to me, even though they beat the Vikings yesterday. I don't think I'm looking at a team that can dominate in a big game. But I've been expecting them for weeks to come back to the pack and they're holding their own.
5 years/$78 mil for McNabb? The same McNabb who was just benched for Rex Grossman? Are they nuts?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
The owner and the front office did the contract and I don't think it makes Shanahan look great. My guess is that it didn't take the Redskins too long to look around and realize that not only can they not get better at QB this year, but next year doesn't get better either, in terms of free agency, etc. McNabb gives them a chance to win. Giving him the stability with the new contract will improve his play and it may improve his relationship with Shanahan. When you have a lot of money in the bank, you can overlook a lot of things.
After our dramatic win against the Ravens, what is your thoughts about the Atlanta Falcons??
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think they're good. They have all of the things in place that you need. I think they have a winner at QB. I think they have a dynamic runner and maybe the top WR in the league right now in White. What really impresses me about Atlanta is that they're a well-coached team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes and they don't beat themselves. That keeps you in a lot of games in this league. I'm not sure they're dynamic, but I think they're a hard team to put away.
If the Steelers and Patriots meet again in the postseason are we likely to see the same result that we saw last night? Is this just a real bad matchup for the Steelers or can the Steelers make adjustments to stop Tom Brady?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I thought it was an excellent matchup for the Steelers based on the run defense we saw last week when the Browns beat the Pats. However, one brilliant thing the Pats did was throw a lot of underneath passes and forced the Steelers to use their LBs in coverage. The result is the Steelers had zero sacks. When you have their LBs out in coverage, it gives Tom Brady time to throw and that's a perfect game plan to beat the Steelers.
How about this...Raheem Morris as the leading candidate for the coach of the year so far?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Well, I think he's certainly in the discussion. This is a team that none of us believed had a lot of talent, even though we knew they had a young QB. The key is to sustain this for the rest of the season. You're asking a lot of young players to keep playing like this for 7 more games. But I think he's done a very good job to get the players to play in their system's philosophy.
Anthony (New Orleans)
The Saints's seem to be gain thier "mojo" back but a game back of a strong looking Atlanta team can they still have a decent shot at winning the division???
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Absolutely I think they can. They have what everybody wants and that's a great QB. I think the problem for New Orleans is they need Reggie Bush back. Not just to give them a better run game, but he also requires coverages that opens things up for the other offensive weapons. On defense, their stats aren't very good, but they're starting to create turnovers. Those big game-changing plays are the key to this team. I think the return of Sharper will help in that area. This is a team with excellent veteran leadership who are well-coached and I think they can make in-game adjustments and their gameplan as well as any team in football. That gives them a chance to be special.
Which AFC teams match up the best with the Patriots should they meet in the postseason? I would say the Ravens and Jets would be tough outs for the Patriots.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I thought Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Indy were elite teams. I still think they're all good, but I also see flaws in all of them. I think that the toughest matchup for New England in the playoffs could be Baltimore, because they are so physical on defense and they can also run the ball effectively. I don't think they'll be intimidated at all by the Patriots. My guess is that would be a great matchup.
Ryan (San Diego)
The Chargers now control their own destiny in the AFC West thanks to yesterday's Chiefs loss. They have to be the favorites right?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I like the direction the Chargers are headed. They had their bye in the last week of byes, which now I think is important because they have a lot of players with nagging injuries. They're getting a lot of those key guys back for the stretch run. Right now Rivers is playing so well that the rest of the team around him just has to be adequate, not great. They've become a better running team. Getting Vincent Jackson back should help. I'm not sure we're ready to crown them the AFC West champs, but this is a team that nobody would want to play right now.
Ty (Wilmington, NC)
Mike Vick is my MVP frontrunner so far. Who is yours and why?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Ooooh. Good question. Vick is an interesting choice, if he continues to play as well as he can. Mine right now would be Rivers. He's done a fabulous job without the weapons of the other QBs. We don't even know half of the guys he's throwing the ball to. Certainly you can make a case for Brady and Peyton Manning. I don't know if Rivers would be the choice if the Chargers don't make the playoffs. I don't know if he gets it, but he's my vote right now. Vick is an interesting pick. I like it.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think what's interesting is with all of the turmoil in Washington, the reality is if they win this game tonight and with the Giants losing yesterday, Washington is right back in the race and the NFC East is back up for grabs. This is an important game for the Redskins. Important for both teams, really.
Buzzmaster (4:30 PM)
Thanks for chatting!