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 (4:00 PM)
We're getting Gary!
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
I thought the division games over the weekend didn't disappoint. What surprised me was that almost all of the teams in the playoffs were good defensive teams, yet we saw some high scores. As we look ahead to the conference championships, I think all four of these teams are worthy to be in the Super Bowl and not one doesn't deserve to be there.
Omar (Baltimore, Maryland)
Now that Rex Ryan has provided somewhat of a blue print to defeat Brady and Manning- careful blitzing and more defensive backs in coverage, would you say that since this is an ever evolving league, that Polian and Belichick might need to switch their offensive schemes to provide more of a power running attack, considering that will be necessary to lure more defenses into base coverage to free up passing lanes?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think the Patriots have always wanted to run the ball more effectively, but they just don't have the personnel to get it done. This is not a pass happy offense by nature. They did it because they had to. I still think that offense can be very effective, even against these coverage schemes, because guys like Brady and Manning will adjust and if they have time to throw, which you get with a 3-4 man pass rush, they'll eventually find matchups they like Good coaches adjust to their opponents and the Pats are no different. I still think against elite QBs, you have to mix things up. In my opinion, the Jets did a nice job against Brady, but a lot of their mistakes were just bad passes, where he was off the mark and that doesn't happen very often.
Rich (New Jersey)
With Aaron Rodgers calling a near perfect game & the defense stopping Matt Ryan
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
Close to being perfect. But I think we have thought that way for the last several weeks. This guy gets in a zone that few QBs do and he has a great receiving corps to go along with it. Can you imagine how much better he might be if he had a dependable run game every week? He has great accuracy, he makes outstanding decisions and I think one thing that he does really good and people don't give him enough credit for is his ability to roll out and throw on the run or tuck the ball and scramble. This guy is not just a pocket QB.
Your thoughts on Sanchez? Actually good, or a product of his circumstances.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think he's a good young QB, but still has periods of inconsistency. I don't always understand why he seems to start out slow in games and get better as the game goes on. I am really starting to like his composure and ability to handle the big moments. I know he can make all of the throws necessary. His confidence really seems to be building. I think that he must get into a groove where he's not on such a roller coaster in terms of his production. But his teammates are really starting to believe in him and that's half of the battle.
keith new haven connecticut [via mobile]
What do you think was the most important key to the jets beating the pats?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think it was them changing their coverages and keeping Brady off balance. What a lot of people didn't realize is they didn't have an all of a sudden great pass rush. Most of the time they rushed with 3 or 4, dropping into coverages that were so good that Brady couldn't hit his first target. He would be forced to re-load, waiting for someone to get open and that would allow the pass rush get there. We're not used to seeing Brady have to double pump. Also, Brian Schottenheimer called an excellent game with creativity. And his best play calling probably came in Week 15 when the Jets beat the Steelers. That will be a big deal this week.
Sean (East Lansing)
Do you think that Green Bay will walk through the bears just as they walked through Atlanta at home?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I don't think they can walk through the Bears at all. They're a good defensive football team. At times they look like an outstanding offensive team. They are playing at home. I think Green Bay is the hottest team left in the playoffs, but they are not playing in a dome and the Chicago defense is a little better than Atlanta's defense. If he's on his game, Rodgers can move the ball against anybody. But Cutler has the same capabilities.
What do you think will be the keys to the bears pulling off an "upset" this weekend against GB?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think they will have to run the football and hopefully limit the possessions that Rodgers gets, by eating up the clock a little bit. I also think that Cutler has to avoid game-changing mistakes, which he's capable of making. Keep in mind this is a very aggressive Green Bay defense that will give you a lot of confusing looks. Then, I think also that the Bears defense will have to play that bend-but-don't-break Cover 2, keeping things in front of them and forcing Rodgers to be patient. They can not give him good matchups that he can exploit. I don't think the Bears can win this game if they get sloppy with turnovers. But I think Green Bay could overcome a couple of mistakes because of their explosiveness. As up and down as we tend to think Cutler is, when he's on, he can make any throw that any elite QB in this league can make.
Do you think that the Bears Packers game will be the most viewed game in the history of NFC championship games?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
First of all Matteo, I'm a little depressed that you're in Italy and chatting with us. There has got to be more exciting things to do! But, having said that, this is the matchup of all matchups between two teams that have played each other more, I think, than any other two teams in the NFL. This is the kind of football that we love: cold weather, physical teams that know everything about each other. Yet, neither one of these teams are boring at all. I think even people not living in the region love this kind of football, with so much history and so many storylines. I've got to think that both of these games will be off the charts, in terms of ratings.
Todd(PA) [via mobile]
Is Rob Ryan that good of a hire for the Boys I mean look what Rex is doing but Rob didn't exactly have a Doomsday D in Cleveland or Oakland.But they are twins I'm hoping he will turn their D around.thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think he'll do a great job, because his players really like playing for him. He's an emotional guy with a lot of enthusiasm and I believe they need that in Dallas. I think they'll develop a swagger and aggressive attitude that will make them better than they have been. I think his style will really fit well. It's my guess that he'll become a favorite coach among fans.
Aaron Rodgers' performance can only go down from this past Sunday...Thanks Aaron for exerting all your energy on the Falcons, Signed DA Bears!!!
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I don't think there's such a thing as exerting too much energy at this stage in the playoffs. Every game is a tough one. Every week is a challenge. I actually think that they'll be encouraged by how they played in Atlanta and how they played in Week 17 against the Bears when they had to win. I think both teams go into this game with confidence.
Would it be fair to say that the only bug difference between Rodgers and Cutler is that Rodgers won't make the same poor throws that Cutler makes.
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think that's exactly the difference between the two, is the consistency. Rodgers rarely makes a bad decision. While Cutler has gotten better, he will still make some bad throws. Part of that is due to inconsistent pass protection, where he's forced to get the ball out or take a big hit. But if we get a chance to see both guys on top of their game on Sunday and bad weather is not a factor, this could be a great game to watch.
Are 3-4 defenses obviously superior than 4-3? Seems like the way to go nowadays.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think everything is cyclical. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think we've seen more 3-4 defenses in recent years because colleges aren't producing a lot of 4-3 pass rushing DEs. There just aren't enough guys with that size to play that position. But there are an abundance of undersized LB types that are pass rushers that fit the 3-4. Name an elite 4-3 DE pass rusher that's come out after Mario Williams. I think the 3-4 can cover up deficiencies at certain positions and allow good players to be productive without asking them to do things that they are uncapable of doing.
Gary, thoughts on the Rivera hire and Charlotte going with another defensive head coach with the worst offense in the league?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Well, Ron Rivera has a great reputation as an innovative defensive guy. I think he'll bring some emotion to the organization. But I'll admit I was surprised because John Fox is very well respected defensively and it seemed like they were trading for the same philosophy. This team was awful on offense. I would have thought that they would have been looking for a really innovative offensive guy to jump start this team. There are a lot of questions on this offensive unit, including the QB. But maybe Rivera will surround himself with strong offensive guys.
Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, FL)
Gary are the Patriots the favorites to win their fourth Super Bowl next February in Indianapolis considering they went 14-2 this season with so many young and talented players on the roster?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I don't think there's any question that they will make adjustments to what just happened. Belichick does a great job of taking the players that he has and putting them in situations where they can be successful. Keep in mind how young this team is right now, with two rookie TEs and a lot of other young players, especially on defense. Now, they are loaded with draft choices that give them tremendous flexibility to add to this roster. Their biggest problem this year was how young they were on defense. A year from now, they'll be older and wiser and better. They will continue to be an elite team.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I think we're going to be very excited with any two of these four teams that wind up going to Dallas. These playoffs seem to me like the best we have seen in years. It will be fun to watch.