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)
Hello! Another week passes. Nothing seems to be happening. It really seems like time is starting to be an issue. Even with this June 3 hearing, it still won't be decided for several weeks. We could be looking at early July as the most optimistic time to get this thing done. But that is probably overstating things. Seems like we are in a hurry up and wait situation all the time. But I'm ready for your questions.
What will you most be looking forward to once we get the season going?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think the most fascinating storyline will be how quickly the rookies get up to speed with their new teams. This is usually a great teaching time for these guys as they learn the playbook and get acclimated for training camp. These guys are going to have to learn on the run while coaches are trying to get the veterans up to speed as well. The guys it really hurts are the undrafted free agents who aren't even signed yet. Secondly, how much time are they going to have to be coached? One other fascinating storyline is what teams will do with free agents. How many will they sign with so little time to get them ready? It's going to be a wild ride if this thing gets resolved.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the Worst NFL Team in 2011 after the Lockout is lifted?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think the teams that want to rely on young quarterbacks are probably in trouble. They just don't have time to get ready. Also, teams with new staffs are in a big dilemma as well. This lockout really hurts organizations like Carolina and Cleveland. Teams with new offenses and defenses will also struggle. Miami's offense, Houston's defense, etc.
Any chance that the season starts and everything is fine causing teams to re-evaluate the whole offseason routine and just how valuable, or not valuable. OTAs and other workouts really are?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I'm sure there are lots of players that feel like there are too many offseason programs but coaches feel like those are great teaching times that you don't get to do as much in training camp as people think. I get the question but I don't think they will make many adjustments. Coaches are control guys. They will always want access to their players and to spend as much time in the offseason as possible.
Pete (Rhode Island)
While it's hard for me to admit, the Patriots probably only have a handful of good years left with Tom Brady. Having said that, it takes a few years to groom young players. So, do you think the Pats have done enough over the last few years to rebuild for another Super Bowl or two for Brady?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
When they drafted Ryan Mallett that was a good indication they may have a young guy to groom and get ready for the post-Brady era. They have also addressed the offensive line. Belichick is great at finding guys to plug in at specific holes. I don't ever see this team falling apart. They will continue to rebuild and reload. I definitely think they could have another Super Bowl run left in them even this year. The OL will be better. Their pass defense really improved a year ago. I think their offensive attack will be terrific. The only weakness I see is I still wonder where that edge pass rush is coming from. This is not a team that puts enough pressure on opposing QBs and that could be a problem.
Do you think the NFL will lose fans as a result of this whole mess?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
We always say that we are afraid of losing fans and in reality we probably should because fans don't really understand how this problem can't be solved, but this is such a popular game, no matter what people say, they will in all liklihood come back once the games start. They may have some bitterness but I think they will come back as strong as ever.
Willie (San Francisco)
It seemed like Lovie Smith was on the hot seat going into last season. Taking the Bears to the conference title game certainly helped him and he got a contract extension. However, many believed the Bears weren't nearly as good as their record. So, did the Bears make a mistake in bringing Lovie backZ?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think he is really a good football coach. I think he has a very strong staff around him and is a very steady guy. But I'm in agreement that I don't think the Bears are as good as most people say. I don't know that I trust Cutler on a week-to-week basis. I don't really trust their run game and I don't trust their pass protection. Detroit is getting better, Green Bay is terrific and Minnesota still has a lot of elite players if they can solve the QB position. In my opinion, Chicago may have trouble matching last year's record.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Which team without a solid QB option do you think is the most talented?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think Jacksonville has a nice situation because they drafted Blaine Gabbert to be the guy of the future but they have a serviceable QB in Garrard who can bridge the gap for a year or two while Gabbert learns. I also think San Francisco could be in decent shape if Alex Smith comes back.
Between their inexperienced quarterback being locked out and their overall lack of talent, the Washington Redskins will have one fo the worst offenses of all time. Disagree?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I've watched all the film and I thought the Redskins had more holes and needs than any other team in the NFL. Especially on offense. I just don't see any difference-makers or big play guys in any key positions. They are not a team that has been built through the draft. So they don't have a lot of young talent to bring along. They have a chance to be OK on defense. But I agree with you on offense. I just don't see where the points are going to come from.
Dalton (Sonoma, CA)
Give me your take on Alex Smith?? Can he be a successful quarterback in the NFL? How many more chances can the 49ers give him?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I'll admit I have been wrong on Alex Smith. I thought he would be much better at this point. But in all fairness, he seems to have a different coach and coordinator every year. He has had no consistency in the NFL. I hope he stays in San Fran because I would love to see Harbaugh coach him. I am somewhat optimistic that with some stability he could be a servicable NFL QB if not a great one.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
In a QB needy market, I dont hear a whole lot of talk about Vince Young. Where do you see him fitting as a starter?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Great question. I haven't heard much about him lately either. His name just doesn't come up when talking to all the NFL insiders. There are some issues off the field that I think concern teams. If and when he goes to another team it will probably be as a backup but is that a role he will accept? It could get interesting for teams that lose out to Kevin Kolb if he is traded, to make a move for Young. But you are right, for a guy who has won in this league, and is easy to obtain, there is very little buzz about him.
chris (West Palm Beach)
Big Jets fan but not a big believer that Sanchez will take the next step up to elite. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I disagree a little. I think he is going to be just fine because he has a lot of confidence and he has an excellent surrounding cast. And a very stable coaching situation. He works at his craft and I really think he is getting better even if we don't see Peyton Manning or Tom Brady type numbers. Under Rex Ryan, this will still be an offense that likes to run and play great defense with the passing game as an added bonus. That means Sanchez doesn't have to carry the team on this back every week. The Jets will be a very good team. Better than a year ago.
Sean (Iowa) [via mobile]
When it's all said and done do you believe the Vikings stay in Minnesota?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I do think they will stay because it looks like they are going to get a stadium deal done. That's what people have told me. They are more optimistic than in the past. My big fear, because I live in San Diego in the offseason, is that the Chargers could wind up moving to L.A. There just doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency to get a stadium deal done here.
How seriously do you think the NFL is considering moving a team to Los Angeles?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I don't think the NFL is overly serious about it until they have a real stadium construction under way. But I think the individual teams that are struggling like to use L.A. as a bargaining chip to move or get a better deal done in their hometown. That certainly includes Minnesota, San Diego and Jacksonville. You always wonder about Buffalo but that is probably unlikely.
Brent (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Do you think Aaron Rodgers has the confidence to win back-to-back Super Bowls?
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
We know that is very difficult but if anyone can do it, it would be the Packers. As good as they were in the Super Bowl, they will be considerably stronger this season as they get all their players back from injury. Rodgers just seems to be playing at a level that is really rare. This is a very well coached team that pays a lot of attention to detail. You are not going to see them get sloppy in any area.
How seriously do you consider Ryan Mallet the future of the Patriots?
Gary Horton (4:36 PM)
I think it is probably all up to him and how he handles it. He has terrific talent and probably the best upside of the young QBs if he studies and approaches the game the right way. There is no better system to be in and if he stays in line and does it the right way, he has a chance to be a terrific QB. But his wait may be fairly long as I think Brady is going to play for several more years. Mallett may end up being more of a trade luxury for the Pats.
Gary, I'm sure you're hearing fans getting tired of all of these negotiations. What are you hearing from around the league? Are players or owners as tired of it as well? Or do you think both sides are steadfast in their stance?
Gary Horton (4:39 PM)
I think both sides are dug in pretty hard right now in their positions. As we always worried, we are now letting the court decide things. We don't yet have that sense of urgency. Nobody is losing money. The players aren't losing paychecks. We haven't even really impacted training camp yet. But I think both sides are going to wait and let the courts make some decisions. That's why this June 3 hearing is so important. It could trigger serious negotiations depending on what they decide. Keep in mind, that may not happen until the first of July.
Gary Horton (4:42 PM)
Thanks for the questions! May is usually an interesting time in the NFL with these young players getting acclimated to their new cities and now we don't have that. As bad as we feel, how would you like to be a coach and not be able to have that contact? Everybody is suffering from this. I'll be back next week for more of your questions!