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 (4:04 PM)
I am still encouraged at what is perceived to be progress. I think we'll get a much better feel in the next couple of days with the owners meetings, at what their mindset is. I know we are hearing that there are some owners that aren't very happy with some of the proposals. But there appears that there is enough to support to get something done. It seems like both sides are trying to work through these issues now. If we have an agreement by early July, which is sometimes a slow month as training camps are just starting, it will be fascinating as everything gets going. It could be a hectic few weeks.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
One other thought, I wonder how many teams will be as active in free agency this year than in the past, because they could be signing players that just don't have enough time to learn their system before the end of the season. Could they back off for a year?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
A lot of interesting topics to talk about.
I think 99.9% of the players are hoping that training camp is canceled. Agree?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
Not necessarily. I think the players are OK with not having to go through the offseason program and OTAs in general, especially the older players. But I think they value training camp. While they might be OK with a game or two less in preseason, training camps have vastly changed in the last few years, because players stay in shape year round and the teams just don't need as much time to get ready. But this year, players realize that no matter what they've been doing, they won't be in optimum shape, they haven't been running plays. So I think they will value a full training camp.
aaron vanburen (covington va)
is matthew stafford 100% or is he going to be hurt all of this season?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
So far, it seems like his injuries are kind of freak in nature. I'm not sure yet that we can call him injury prone. This is an improving team and as the offensive line gets better and the run game improves, it will take some of the pressure and hits off of him. I think they'll have something special in Detroit.
Will Jason Campbell ever find the consistency he needs if he can play in the same offense for more than 2 consecutive years?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think he has a chance to have a solid year coming up, because he's going to be mentored by two excellent QB gurus in head coach Hue Jackson and OC Al Saunders. Campbell has excellent physical tools. I think Saunders will work on his fundamentals and decisions. Jackson is an excellent playcaller. With a really good running game, the Raiders should fill up a nice play action package. This will be the same offense he ran a year ago.
Gabe Hauari (Richmond, VA)
What are some areas Chad Henne needs to work on for him to have success? I'm a Dolphins fan with some hope that he can still turn it around. Thank you!
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think his whole success revolves around consistency. He just doesn't put a string of games and plays together to make you feel good enough. Now with the running game that's looked so good in recent years having some issues, that will put more pressure on the passing game.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Every year a team finishes the previous season well but misses the playoffs only to make the playoffs the following year. Everyone is clamoring for the Detroit Lions to be that team next year but I still think the Lions are too thin in the secondary to make the playoffs. I say the Texans are the surprise playoff team in 2011, who do you see being the surprise playoff team next year?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I agree with you that Detroit is maybe not that team yet. I think they will be dramatically improved and they will be competitive, but I just don't see them as a team that jumps into the playoffs. I think they could be an 8-8 team. To be honest, I've given up on Houston. We think they'll be an elite team year after year, but they disappoint despite having good talent. They have an offense that can play with anybody. I might pick the St. Louis Rams as a sleeper team this year, partly because they are improving and maybe more so that they are in a weaker division.
MattC (Manteo, NC)
Does Crabtree ever live up to his potential? over/under 800yds 9td's this season?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Well, he has a world of talent and he should be able to put up those numbers, especially with a tight end in Vernon Davis that really stretches defenses and draws a lot of attention. That should give him some good looks. But I have this nagging feeling that Crabtree doesn't do enough in preparation to be an elite guy. There are times you get the feeling that he's cruising. Although, I think Jim Harbaugh will make or break him this season. If the concentration and effort are there, I think he could post double digit TD catches.
Ray, austin [via mobile]
Wut will happen to tony romo will he still play for the cowboys
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I still really believe in Tony Romo. He is an elite QB when he is on his game. He just needs to be able to finish games and be great in the playoffs to establish his legacy. There is no question in my mind that the Cowboys are a Super Bowl contender with him. His ability to get himself out of trouble is a big part of his game. I still like all of the weapons he has. I think he's matured as a guy who studies and knows he has to lead this team.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think him getting married in the offseason could really settle him down too
What can Mark Sanchez do to improve his game?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think he's just got to become more consistent. I think he can make all of the plays necessary. I think he's improving his ability to read defenses every year. I see a guy that's really starting to mature into a playmaker. Remember, this is a team that wants to run the football and play good defense. Their QB doesn't have to win every game, he just can't make a lot of dumb mistakes and lose games. That's where Sanchez has to continue to get better, manage the game, make big plays when he needs to and don't force the issue. Limiting mistakes at the QB position really make this offense go.
Ian from Iowa [via mobile]
Are the Eagles legitimate superbowl contenders
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Oh I think there's no doubt they are. They obviously have a great passing game, with the ability to really spread a defense out. They have an improved running game with LeSean McCoy. We know Michael Vick can really change a game around. I think it all comes down to defense. Their secondary is not as good as in the past. I sense with new coordinator Castillo that they want to blitz less and play more combo schemes. But that requires more pressure without having to blitz. They have a great new coach in Jim Washburn from Carolina and he should be a huge upgrade to the pressure that they can provide. If this defense can create turnovers and give the offense some field position, they'll be right in the mix. However, I still have a nagging concern that Vick may either not last for a full season or did he have a one-year magical season in 2010 that he can not repeat? That's why I think it's a tricky proposition to let Kevin Kolb go. I think the Eagles in a perfect world would like to keep Kolb and trade him after the season to make sure Vick was back, but they may not have that luxury.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Are you surporised the Pats have not addressed their glaring need for a pass rusher, or do you expect them to make a run at Manny Lawson or somebody in FA?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think that must be their plan exactly, because it was such a huge need heading into the draft. Bill Belichick has a nice history of plugging veterans in as an edge rusher in that 3-4 defense. I think he'll do that again. He could easily have the attitude that it's asking a rookie too much with this veteran group to make an impact. Remember, they're winning with Banta-Cain as their leading rusher. You don't need a star player. In my mind, the glaring weakness in this team is the outside rush. If they don't get it solved, then they're just an average defense.
chris [via mobile]
Is it ok to have a man crush on Josh Freeman?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
That's probably between you and Josh and non of my business. I don't like to get involved in man crushes.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I do think that he is really playing well and I love his ability to thrive in tough situations such as comebacks, etc. When you can do that and win games late, you gain the confidence of all of your players and coaches, including yourself. I think he's really building a reputation as a clutch guy. There is a real element of consistency in that offense, which will let him to go.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
The Patriots and Packers still seem like the class of the AFC and NFC respectively, do you agree?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think the Packers are odds-on favorites to run the table again. We have talked about it a lot that the team we saw win the Super Bowl was actually missing double digit guys on injured reserve. Now all of those guys come back, unless free agency takes some of them. Those are all guys that can come back and get ready quickly. I just don't see one weakness on this team, especially if their running game improves as I think they will.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
New England will be outstanding, but as we mentioned, their pass rush pressure and an improved run game will be their keys to stay on top. They have a lot of competition in the AFC. Teams like the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, etc. aren't going away.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I think I hope this week's owners meetings can provide some clarity and they can all get on the same page. It appears to be another week to be some interesting things to look at.