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)
Like everybody else, I'm really excited about the potential of the lockout being over this week. I think it's a tribute to both sides of understanding what's at stake and not allowing it to get personal. If you're a football fan, the month of August will likely be the most exciting few weeks you've had, with a whole off season's worth of movement crammed into four weeks.
latim (Los Angeles, CA)
Gary, with the labor agreement hopefully decided soon, just how crazy will it be day one do you think? Or maybe I would ask the question...just how much prep work do you think teams have already done regarding FA's already?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
Oh, I think teams are absolutely prepared to deal quickly, because that's all they've had to do in the past two months. There are three phases in terms of personnel: 1) re-signing your own free agents; 2) re-signing free agents of other teams and 3) the part that everyone forgets, signing undrafted players. I think teams are so prepared that the top free agents will likely sign in 2-3 days, because I think the rule of thumb will be that every team that's interested in a guy send over their best offer and the player and agent looks it over. I don't think we'll see a lot of long trips for these guys.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
i get confused with teams sometimes. why would denver NOT just start Tebow? it's obvious that orton cant get it done. why not chuck tim in there and see what he can do? it's not like he's "learning" from someone like farve like rodgers did...
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
The way you and I think isn't always the way that teams think. It is my feeling that the coaches probably think that Orton gives them a better chance to win than Tebow, at least in the beginning. Every organization enters the season thinking they have a chance to win and Denver is no different, even though you and I look at them and think they have no chance. I think Orton starts the season and plays until they are out of the playoff picture, which I think could be as quick as a month. Then I think they will give Tebow every chance to win the job. As long as I've been involved with this job, I've seen veteran coaches more comfortable with veteran QBs, even if they lesser physical skills.
Would you consider Matt Forte a top 10 back? Why or why not? (admittedly a bears fan, and don't understand why one of the most consistently productive backs in football is so constantly looked over)
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think his versatility makes him a very valuable player. I don't think he's an elite runner, but I think he's a good one. What I love that sets him apart is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. That you can leave him in on third down is very appealing. He's a very good back, but I don't think you'll see him as a 1,500-yard rusher and carries your offense. In fairness to him, he has not played against the best OL in the NFL.
John (Darien, IL)
The team I think should go after Asomugha is Baltimore. I thought CB was a weakness in that D. (Besides age) Thoughts?(A Charger fan by the way)
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think he's a great fit anywhere, especially teams that play man-to-man schemes and press coverages like Baltimore. The Ravens drafted a press corner this year in Jimmy Smith and getting Asomugha would give them the ability to blitz any time they wanted to from anywhere on the field because they would have two CBs with which they could lock down opposing receivers. However, I think the Jets would be a great option for him. I do know this, Baltimore was forced to pull back some of their blitzes last year, because they were not comfortable with their coverage on the back end. That's something they would desperately like to change.
do you think mark sanchez is whats holding the jets back?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
No, because I think they're bringing him along at their own pace. I think the Jets coaches really recognize well what a players' strengths are and that's what they tailor their offense to. They have a good run game, which helps Sanchez. They love to roll him out, use some bootlegs. Sometimes he's only reading half the field. You get the feeling that they will continue to give him more of the offense and decision making, if they think he can handle it. I see him evolving into a really good QB but maybe not a guy who puts up huge stats.
Best division in Football? Gotta be the NFC south right? With 3 of the top ten twelve teams in league and possibly 2 of top 5 with Falcons and Saints?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I really like the NFC West....just kidding. You know what? I would have to agree with you, because three of the four teams (excluding Carolina) are playoff contenders. When you look at most other divisions, there are usually only 2 teams in that category. Though, you could make an argument for the NFC East.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
I know the Chiefs have a difficult schedule this year, but how good can Jamaal Charles be? Is 20 TDs and 1500 yards rushing possible? Thanks Gary!
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think he'll continue to put up excellent numbers. First of all, that's the design of their offense. They will run the ball very effectively. They also have an excellent offensive line. Keep in mind, he doesn't have to take all of the snaps. When you watch the Chiefs on film, it is really a well conceived run game, with excellent blocking principles.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, at this point are the Hall of Fame Game and the preseason week 1 matchups in jeopardy because of the lockout not being resolved yet?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
A week ago, I worried about the Hall of Fame game, but not necessarily about the preseason. But now, I don't think we'll miss any games. It's likely the Hall of Fame teams will only have a few days to practice, but that's happened before. There have been coaches in the past that didn't come to camp much earlier before that game. They might just play a lot of different players and not ask their veterans to do too much. I think the league is so concerned about not losing money in the preseason that they will play the Hall of Fame game, even if it's not great football.
Matt R (San Diego, CA)
Do you think Matt Ryan has the potential and the makings to be a HOF QB? Is he the best young QB in your eyes? Whats a brief scouting report on him?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I hesitate when we talk about hall of fame, but the book on Matt Ryan is his ceiling for success is very high. He has tremendous physical skills to play the position, but a lot of guys do. What separates him is the intangibles. He has excellent intelligence, great work ethic, high character. That brings on great leadership and faith in him and for him by his teammates and coaches. The Falcons are building a great foundation around him. He just doesn't seem like a guy that would have a lot of bad games in off years.
What makes Ted Thompson sucha good evaluator of talent? Being willing to log 1,000's of miles on the road, visit schools, etc or just an innate ability to spot talent?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Ted Thompson, first of all, watches a lot of film himself, which is usually characteristic of teams that draft well. He's not relying on other peoples' opinions. However, he also has a great reputation for valuing others opinions and listening to scouts and coaches and coming up with a consensus feeling on a player. They also have a very clear picture of what they want in a player in terms of skill sets. I am reminded on how good Bill Belichick was at that when I was with him in Cleveland. As scouts, we spent three days when he first took the job just going through each position and him telling us what he wanted specifically at each position. When you went out to look at players, you knew exactly what he wanted at each position. Probably as important as anything is that Ted Thompson doesn't have a huge ego. He's just trying to put the best players out there.
what do you expect this season from chad henne?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think it's a defining year for Henne. We continue to like his physical skills and we see glimpses of really good play, but he's just too inconsistent and he just doesn't make good decisions. The problem for the Dolphins is that they've been able to hide him in the past, because their running game is so good. But that might not be the case this season. He might not be able to carry them with his arm. I think if he's not able to play well, this will be his last year as a starter for Miami.
tony winston sallem NC [via mobile]
Super Bowl favorite this year?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
For me, it's an easy early choice and it's Green Bay. For the simple reason that we've talked about before in this chat. They had 15 players on injured reserve when they won the Super Bowl and now they get those players back. That's a huge advantage when our free agency timeline is so compact on getting players ready. These guys all know the system. They have functioned well in it and I just don't think they'll miss a beat. I believe the team that they will put on the field this season will be better than the one they put on the field a year ago.
Jim (Kansas City)
What are your impressions of Matt Cassel. Do you think he can continue to grow or do you think last year was as good as we are going to see?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I'm a little bit of a Matt Cassel fan. I think he can get better and especially in the KC system where the run is most important. It gives him a good playaction package. I like the way coaches protect him with a lot of short throws and don't ask him to make a lot of complicated reads. I think he can get to the point where he will not throw a lot of interceptions, he'll put up nice numbers with the check downs and short passes. I think it can be an efficient offense.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
If everything happens as we hope it does next week, maybe next Monday we'll be talking about free agency a little bit. Won't that be nice? It will be an exciting time for football fans, even if it has been a couple of tough months.