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)
Gary is here!
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
It sounds to me like the two sides are getting closer to an agreement. I think there's a committment to getting this thing done and us having a season. I think there is a real optimism by everybody that we will have a full regular season and, obviously, I hope that's the case. But it finally seems to me that the two sides are really developing some trust. That's the key factor in negotiations.
Gary, what is the word around the leaguea bout thsi being solved not by the court?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think that's very important to both sides. If it goes to the courts, whoever loses really is hurt in terms of leverage. The winning side in courts can really put down the hammer and play hardball. I don't think either side wants that to happen. The owners certainly don't want the players to end the lockout, because then they would be in a power situation. The players certainly don't want to lose paychecks, which will start happening in September. The smart thing is for them to realize that they have to do it themselves and not have it linger.
Why do i keep seeing stuff that says the bears will be worse than last year. I understand that the lions made some moves but untill stafford stays healthy, the bears are still the 2nd best team in that division and should be a 11 win team
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Well, I think they're a good team, but I don't think they're as talented as their record indicated a year ago. I think they have some question marks on defense with a little bit of age. I'm not wild about their secondary and I don't trust Jay Cutler for 16 games. They're a better team when they run the ball and have play action. I do agree with you that they're the second best team in the NFC North, even though Detroit is getting better. But I see them as an 8-8, 9-7 team. This team just doesn't excite me.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Would you rather start a franchise around a dominant edge rusher (i.e. Clay Matthews) or a dominant left tackle (i.e. Jake Long)? I guess I would go with the edge rusher but it is a close call right?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
It's a very close call, because both positions have a tremendous impact on the game. However, I would go with you. I think an edge rusher like Matthews who plays with explosiveness can turn a game around with big plays, sacks, fumbles, etc. A LT is certainly important, but the only way he effects the outcome of the game is if he allows edge rushers to beat him and get to the QB. Both positions are hard to find, but I would have to say the outside rusher has a bigger impact on game-changing plays. And, offenses can make adjustments if they are hurting at LT, by rolling out the QB away from pressure.
Are the Chargers moving forward or taking a step back this year?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I was a little concerned about that early in the offseason. But I think they had a good draft and they are still the team to beat in the AFC West. Phillip Rivers can control a game. I think their window is starting to close, but they stillh ave 2-3 years where they can stay on top. I think they can be better than they were a year ago.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Rivers said in a newspaper that everyone is saying the quality of play won't be good early in the season, but he said he thinks players will be healthy and hungry and the quality of play early will actually be excellent because the players will be fresh. If that's the case, we might see teams adjust their offseason workouts a little bit. The key will be what kind of physical shape these players are in when they come to camp. I'm a firm believer that you can work out all you want, but it's not the same when you're training alone as it is to a training camp environment.
Hey Gary, do you think the Packers who did not practice like alot of the other teams, will have a difficult time getting their team ready to play this season.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think the Packers are a team that practice really well and are really well coached and have all of these players coming back that know the playbook that they'll adjust quickly to being back. I think some of these lockout workouts are mostly for team chemistry and timing. Those workouts aren't close to the same as training camp workouts, though they are still good to have. I'm still surprised that the Packers didn't make a splash and have a workout when they convened to get their rings. That would have been a good time of 3-4 days of getting together. I know Aaron Rodgers lives in California. Maybe they're a team that feels they'll be ready once training camp starts. I still feel they're far and away the best team.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
One other thought on the Packers. A lot of scouts tell me that they're one of the most detailed coaching staffs in the NFL. Every year they start over with his footwork, drops, everything, almost like he's a rookie. They do that for every position. Re-training everyone. They may not have the time for with a shortened camp.
lewis (flint michigan)
Will most free agents atleast defensive backs wait until Nmandi signs his deal before they make any moves to see what the market dictates?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
No, I think there will be a mad scramble the day teams are allowed to go after free agents. I don't think teams will wait for a market to be set. It will be so competitive. Players can leverage one team against another. Teams will probably have to find free agents in 2-3 weeks, plus the draft picks and college free agents. The one question I have is because new players have no idea of the playbook or the team that they'll sign with is will teams not sign as many free agents this year because they feel they won't have as much time to get these guys ready? That will be interesting to watch.
Jake (Richmond, VA)
Hey Gary. Any chance the 'Skins can "package" Haynesworth and McNabb for a 4th rounder somewhere? Would be nice to get rid of both in one swoop!
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I agree that they're both gone, but I don't think there's any package deal. I'm not sure how much they'll be offered for either guy. I think some teams still value McNabb, especially if you need to bridge a gap. I could see him in Arizona. I really don't know the market for Haynesworth. As talented as he is, I think teams just don't know if he's worth the hassle. I could see the Skins releasing him rather than trading him.
Sean (Iowa) [via mobile]
Gary, do you think Bryant McKinnie will be a Viking next season or will they trade him and possibly bring in a Matt Light to block for whomever the QB is?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
One of the big surprises, and disappointments, to me in the 2010 season was the play of the Vikings OL. I thought they were an elite group and I am shocked how quickly they've gone down hill. I'm not good with his footwork, quickness. Agreed that he had to block last year for an immobile QB. The play of their OL has to be addressed. I don't know if they can find a LT immediately. The Vikings' offense this year will be much more run oriented. This line may get by because they're run blocking more than pass protecting.
Gary -did you like NE's selection of Shane Vereen? Will he beat out Green Ellis and will the Pats look to run the ball more? Thanks
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think that they want to have a little more offensive balance. They'll never be a run oriented team. They've shown in the past that they can win with RB by committee. I think Green Ellis has the job, but the draft adds depth. While Brady will look to pass a lot, I think that will really open up better run lanes. I suspect their run game will be significantly improved that it was a year ago.
Because the free agency period will be so short, do you see some players signing 1 year deals with their old teams and waiting till next year to test the waters?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
That's an interesting question. It certainly seems logical. I would think from a team standpoint, you might try to sign your own guys to a one-year deal, because they know your system and you don't have as much team upheavel. From a players' standpoint, they might not want a one-year deal. If a team wants a player, I think they'll spend. One thing during the lockout, I've been told, teams are very prepared for the financials. I think good players will get good offers, but I think it's the fringe players that might suffer.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
If a team retains a player, for continuity sake, a one-year deal makes a lot of sense for both parties. But if a player is going to a new team, I don't think there's any way the player wants to go with a one-year deal.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
We've always said that we hoped there'd be a deal in place by early July. But that's coming up. I think we could see the parameters of a deal in the next 10 days, but then it might take several weeks on the fringe of the deal that need to be addressed: retired players, rookie salary cap, 18-game schedule, etc. That could delay free agency maybe until the middle of July. Hopefully we'll still have almost a full training camp and preseason.