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 (4:03 PM)
I'm headed back to Bristol from San Diego. I'm excited for a great football season.
Who do u think will end up with the starting job in Denver. McGahee or Moreno
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think this is Moreno's job. McGahee is a solid insurance backup as a veteran. He's also an outstanding goal line runner. That's where his value can be to the Broncos. I think they look for Moreno to be their fulltime back.
Steven Macias Santa Barbara, CA [via mobile]
How far do you see the San diego Chargers going this year?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
As usual, they are the most talented team in the AFC West and I think they'll have a solid offseason. The key for them is to not start slowly and not climb out of a hole. I know we say that every year, but they must play respectable football in the first month of the season. I think they'll be better on defense than a year ago. I know that they will be better on special teams. The real key to this team in my mind comes down to Ryan Mathews and the run game and if Phillip Rivers has enough healthy targets. You know he'll be great, but it would be nice to have some consistency with the pass catchers. This is a better division with KC and Oakland than it has in the past.
Shaun Dooley (Nashua, NH)
Hey Gary, thanks for taking my question. Over the past couple years there has been an increasing number of teams shifting from the 4-3 to the 3-4. The Patriots on the other hand seem to be moving more towards a 4-3 alignment. Do you think this is a strategic shift to capitalize on now undervalued 4-3 players or do you think it is simply a function of their current roster structure (or a combination of both)?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think we see more teams switching to 3-4 schemes right now because that's what the colleges are producing. There are a lot of undersized pass rushers coming to the NFL that fit much better as a 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 DE, so teams adapt to what they draft. However, in the Patriots case, I think they see that their personnel is more suited to a 4-3 so they make those adjustemnts. We may still see some 3-4 schemes, but with the additions of Gregg Ellis and Haynesworth, nobody is more suited to fitting schemes to players than Bill Belichick.
Lou (New York)
do you think peyton mannings glory days are done
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I don't think so. I think the Colts are being very careful with him right now. We know he's one of the most versatile QBs in NFL history. I can't imagine that he won't return to a high level. He knows right now it's better to be safe. Although you know he's frustrated because timing is so key to Manning in terms of working with his receivers and he hasn't been able to have that. I think he'll be ready on Opening Day. There will be some rust. I think we'll see Peyton out there producing big numbers for several years to come.
EO3 (Bay Area, California)
Gary,Last Saturday game Bears against Buffalo Bills. Do you think the Bills Defense looks pretty good in the first half of last Saturday game.EO3Bay Area, California
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think their pass rush is dramatically improved, which has been a real problem for Buffalo. That's a good sign. However, keep in mind two things, the Bears really struggled a year ago on pass protection and that appears to still be a problem. And secondly, defenses are so far ahead of offenses right now that it's almost unfair to judge either side of the ball. I think the Bills pass rush will be improved, but I also think the Bears have some serious problems on protecting Cutler.
What are your thoughts about the Panthers performance on Saturday? Newton?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I thought he looked like he had good composure. We know he's a great athlete. We know that physically he can make all of the throws and use his feet to get out of trouble. But keep in mind, this is an offense that's not very complex right now when he's in the lineup. With his limited college background, my fear is that as we get closer to the regular season, things like changing plays and audiblizing on defenses that are trying to confuse him will be a problem. Even with his great athleticism, if you cut back the playbook, good defenses can jump all over that. If I were Carolina right now, I would feel great, probably as much because of his mental approach as his physical play.
EO3 (Bay Area, California)
Hi Gary,Do you think Dante Culpepper can start/make the team (49ers) this season?Bay Area,Earnest III.
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
He's a veteran guy with a lot of starting experience. I think the 49ers are at least exploring the possibility. Maybe they're not totally happy with Alex Smith. I think Culpepper at this stage is a viable option. He could be backup insurance for a team that's not quite sure about QB. But keep in mind, a lot of teams bring guys in to take a look and keep him in mind in case of injuries.
In jail_no bail [via mobile]
This might be early but what is your superbowl prediction?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think Green Bay will represent the NFC. They were the best team a year ago and they have all of those guys back from injured reserve, which means they shouldn't get off to a slow start. They have guys that know the playbook and should step right in. On the AFC side, I love the Patriots. I also like the Jets and the Steelers, they're both intriguing and could make a run. I think the Jets in particular must be at home in the playoffs to have a chance at the Super Bowl. They can't continue to go to the playoffs as a wild card.
Lou (New York)
do you think mark sanchez will air it out more this season
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
That's an interesting question. On one hand, they want to loosen things up for Sanchez and let him create plays and let him go downfield more. That's probably more Schottenheimer's philosophy that Ryan's. In my mind, Ryan would want to run the ball, by physical and play tough defense. However, I think they know Sanchez knows the offense more and will allow him more freedom to change plays. If that's the case, I think they could be more exciting. However, keep in mind he has new targets that he hasn't worked with.
Josh S. (Philly)
Over/Under 20 combined sacks for Trent Cole and Jason Babin this season?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think their pass rush will be outstanding this year. This team loves to blitz. They love to play a deep DL rotation, which they couldn't do a year ago because they didn't trust their CBs. I think now you'll see that the Eagles will play man on the back end and use twists and stunts. So, I think that could lead to more than 20 sacks for these guys as they could face some single blocks.
MDJ (Queens, NY)
Do you think the NY Giants will win 10 or more games this year?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I would have to pick less than 10 games for them this year. The division is better with Philadelphia and Dallas. I don't trust their offense. Their passing game has been hurt by their losses. The back end of their defense doesn't excite me. I don't see this team as dynamic. I might be totally wrong, but there just seems to be something missing. I think they're solid, but they're just not great. I might think about a 9-7 season or 8-8. I might be totally wrong.
Rich (New Jersey)
Saw a few games over the weekend and the Patriots looked good. Which teams or players looked like they'll be ready by opening day?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I don't think you can make any real observations after most Week 1's in the preseason and especially this one. These teams haven't had much time to practice. The defenses are miles ahead of the offenses. And the QBs will look much better by the start of the season. And, what surprised me is that most veterans didn't play much. You can see some individuals that you like, and we saw taht in the skill positions, but I don't think you can say much about any team at this stage.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think it was interesting about the kickoff rule. Chicago moved the ball back so they could kick it off so they could get some returns so they could evaluate their cover teams. But it brings up a very interesting situations, how can you work on your special teams if all of the kicks go into the end zones. I find it interesting because there are decisions to be made about the guys on the kicking teams that fill the back end of your roster, but you can't see them play. It will make for some interesting decisions. Just a thought.
how much will the panthers use their TE's?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I think even before they traded for Olsen, the TE was going to be a much bigger part of this offense. Rivera saw how effective Gates was at San Diego and his philosophy is to really utilize the TE in the passing game. Olsen is an excellent target for any QB, but especially in the red zone. I was shocked that the Bears gave him away. I think he'll post great numbers for an offense that hasn't used the TE in years.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
And they even added Shockey, which gives them two TEs that can catch.
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
As we head into Week 2, we will have a much better feel for where things are and the level of play we will see this coming weekend will be better than Week 1. The best thing that we can say for right now is we are not having all of the major injuries that we thought we might see due to guys not being in shape.