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)
We've got Gary!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I don't know if I'm right or wrong, but I felt like on Sunday that for the first time this season I was getting a handle on NFL teams and was starting to get a feel for which directions teams were headed. Maybe it just takes that long. But it seems like teams are separating themselves for the last month of the season. For me, it's more fun to watch these teams if I know who they are. That hasn't always been the case, even though I watch film all week.
Do you think the Bears are for real?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I did not think they were for real until yesterday. But the more I see this defense, the more I like it. I thought they had a wonderful game plan versus Michael Vick with their Cover 2 scheme and they played it to perfection. The other thing that amazes me is that for the last four weeks during this run, Mike Martz has shown great offensive balance and has run the football. This is a good team that will be tough to beat at home in January, if they can secure those home playoff games. And I don't think we've seen the best yet of what Cutler can be.
GARY!!! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. After the Falcons won against GB, Is there any doubt that they are in the right path towards clinching home-field and making a Super Bowl run???
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I would say this about Atlanta: they might be the most underrated team in the NFL because they're simply not that exciting, but they're extremely efficient. What I like about them is they don't hurt themselves. They play extremely smart football and they will be a tough out in the playoffs. I think it's critical for them to play at home in January instead of going to some place like Green Bay or Chicago to play. Right now, you have to say they're the best team in the NFC.
Cameron Hulkkonen (Houghton MI)
Hi, What actions do you think the NFL should take over the fight between Finnegan and Andre J.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think because both helmets came off and they continued to fight, I think there are probably suspensions involved here. The problem I have is I think it was Finnegan's fault to provoke this fight. I've been told by multiple sources that he's a ridiculous trash talker and takes pride in being a dirty player, while Andre Johnson is a very mild mannered guy. But you can not dismiss Johnson's actions in this game and you can't give him a free pass even if you want to. I think they'll both be suspended for a game with heavy fines.
What do you think of Belichick's decision to give the players four days off before what is arguably their biggest game of the regular season?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
You have 11 days before the next game. If you give them four days off, you still have 7 days to prepare. At this stage of the season, rest is very important. Players are tired both mentally and physically. You also have two teams who know each other already very well, so it's not like you haven't prepared for these guys before. It also gives Belichick four days to put together a game plan for a group that will come back fresh and ready to go. It's almost like having another bye. That has to help at this stage of the season. I think it's smart.
Gary -For weeks now I've heard the Bears are just a product of thier schedule but after yesterday I'm not so sure...how about you?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
We've already talked about the Bears, but I think they're a legitimate team and I think they're starting to develop an identity. They've been a pretty good defense all season, but they're playing this Cover 2 scheme almost to perfection. Their biggest improvement has come on offense, where they have offensive balance. Defenses haven't been able to load up on the pass rush and come after Cutler. The Bears are a little bit like Atlanta in that they grow on you and the more you see them, the better you like them. I have to credit the coaches for tweaking their philosophy a month ago, demanding that better balance on offense and I think that's been their key for success.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I also think it doesn't hurt that Green Bay has so many injuries and Minnesota has played so poorly. At the beginning of the season, we expected the NFC North to be a much stronger division.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, one of the biggest surprises for me in the 2010 NFL season is the disappointing performance of the Cincinnati Bengals. How much of that team's underperformance is due to the play of Carson Palmer? Are there other reasons for this poor play?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think a lot of it is due to Palmer's inconsistency. I'm a lot like you. I expected them to be a very well balanced team. I have watched a lot of film in the last few weeks and something is wrong with Palmer. He has been inconsistent with his decisions and he just doesn't have a flow with his receivers. In all honesty, this was a good defense a year ago, but this year they have no pass rush pressure and I don't think the corners aren't playing as well as a year ago, probably because they're not as protected up front.
Ryan (San Diego)
Who wants to play the Chargers? If the defense can shut down the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning like that, they are nearly impossible to beat
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think they're playing really good football right now, especially in defense. Ron Rivera had a wonderful game plan for Manning, disguising looks and coverages and he's a tough guy to confuse. Offensively, I don't understand how they continue to get it done with all of the injured weapons that Rivers has. This is a team that will continue to play well. They'll get healthier and will become even more dangerous. They must win their remaining game with KC in a couple of weeks to get themselves really back into the playoffs. If they get in, they will be a tough team to beat. Their margin of error right now is not very big.
Chad (Cascade, MD)
Who wins sunday night ravens or steelers?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
That's a tough game to predict, because both teams are so similar in their styles. I don't think either team played well this week, but they both got a win to make this game even more important. I probably like Baltimore a little better at home, because I think they have really good versatility. But if we went down the line and matched each one of the units on both teams, I bet we'd come close to a push in almost all areas. They maybe be the most two evenly matched elite teams in the NFL with almost the same personality.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I would probably prefer Baltimore slightly.
What team right now do you think has super bowl written on them? Afc, nfc champions as of today?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think anybody right now that has Super Bowl written on them has it written in pencil rather than ink so you can erase it. I think the good teams are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, but I'm in all honesty starting to look at homefield advantage in January as the key to getting to the Super Bowl. In the AFC, everything still goes through New England. Someone's going to have to beat them in Foxborough to advance and I don't think that's going to happen. In the NFC, I would have to think everything goes through Atlanta. If teams like Green Bay or Chicago get on a roll and forces a team to come to them to play in January, that becomes intriguing. And you can't count out the defending champion Saints. I don't think anyone has a lock right now, but I think the Patriots are the best team in the NFL.
Do you the think the Dolphins are underrated?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
No, I really don't, because I think they change from week to week. They looked terrific at Oakland, but they can also look bad on any given week. There is inconsistency at the QB position and they're only as good as their running game takes them. They're tough and they play hard, but I don't see them as the team that gets on a roll and dominates.
Is there any chance Singletary can save his job? Bernie from A weekend at Bernie's can adjust as well as Singletary. Yes, a dead corpse. Good luck Sings. Again, Good Luck.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
If you believe what you read, he's in big trouble and the chances are strong that he'll be gone. But I happen to believe in Singletary and I would offer to give him another year. I think there are some good pieces in place. He has good leadership qualities. I don't think they're being outcoached each week. But having said that, they may be the most disappointing team in the league, because I thought they would run away with the NFC West before the season started. I would love to see Singletary get another year.
Are my Jets an actual playoff threat or a team getting lucky that will be derailed by New England next week?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think they're a legit team. This is a veteran outfit with marquee players at a lot of positions. I think they play down to the level of their competition in several games. They're much more talented than we have seen. But those close games also make them resilient. They can go on a huge playoff run, if Mark Sanchez plays well like he did a year ago. Everything else will be fine. He just has to play smart, efficient football down the stretch and in the playoffs. This team doesn't have major flaws. But I don't know if they can go into New England next Monday and beat them. If they lose it, I think there's a good chance they'll meet the Pats again in January. The Jets need to blow somebody out and play one game up to the level of their ability.
Ryan (Germantown, MD)
What about the Giants? I thought they showed guts to pull out a win like that in the 4th quarter.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I would probably temper that a little bit saying that I don't think Jacksonville is a great team. So, to scramble to win that game at home, I don't think that's a show of strength. They can run the football and they can play good defense. If they can cut down on their mistakes and not turn the ball over and give it away, I think they can be very effective down the streets. These guys have been there before and know how to win. They're another surprising team to me, because of their inconsistencies from week to week.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think there are some terrific matchups heading into next weekend. The playoff picture is really starting to form. These last four weeks of the season are really the favorite to me. Each week has so much meaning and it clarifies the picture so quickly.