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 (4:05 PM)
We finally see in Week 2 that we're starting to get a real feel for teams, both good and bad as players start to get into better shape and get more playing time. I think this upcoming weekend becomes the most important weekend this season. It's probably the last time we'll see the marquee players play a lot.
Luke (south bend)
If the bears offensive line turns out to be decent how good do you think they can be? They were a couple Caleb hanie passes away from the super bowl last year.
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
Well, I'm probably the wrong guy to talk to, because I thought the Bears were overrated last year and weren't as good as their record indicated. They have significant protection problems, partly because of blocking and partly because Cutler holds on to the ball too long. Though I will give Mike Martz credit for going to more of a run game which helped. Cutler last year. The key for the Bears this year will be if Cutler can stay upright and give him time to throw.
Dr. H. Doofenschmirtz (Tri-State Area)
T. Pryor=smart move by the Raiders? 3rd round pick too high?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Well, I thought he would go in the 5-6 round. It certainly seems high. But he's a big, physical athlete. He ran a great time at his pro day. The Raiders are so enamored with the measurables, that I could see them falling in love with him. It will be very interesting to see how they try to develop him.
Al Czervik (Nebraska)
What's the deal with Colt McCoy? I read that he dropped in the draft because of height/weight/arm strength but then see his vitals are consistent with many successful QBs and that his MPH was fine too? What's your opinion?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think McCoy is just one of those guys that he's a football player. He doesn't dazzle you with any of the physical skills, but it's not necessarily a detriment. He's just one of those guys that knows how to make plays. I don't think size or lack of arm strength, etc. will ever be something that holds him back.
MattC (Dallas )
Gary, as a former scout, do you think Josh Freeman will have a breakout year, or was last season a fluke?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think he'll only get better. Not only does he have the physical skills, and he's very gifted in that area, but he's also a guy that has excellent leadership. He studies hard and he wants to be good. He is on a young team that will continue to surround him with better weapons. The sky is the limit on him.
Gary, are the colts lookin for a better backup qp.....
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I'm afraid their hands are tied right now, because I don't know that they could bring in a guy that could learn their system quickly enough even though there's probably more talented guys out there than the guys they have behind Manning. I've always found it interesting that the Colts have never really drafted a guy to be the heir apparent or at least a quality No. 2, behind Peyton. I think we've become so comfortable with his durability that it has not been a big issue. In my opinion, if Manning misses any time, this Colts team is a .500 team at best.
Why isn't there a bigger deal being made of the fact that the eagles don't have a "real" defensive coordinator?....i think this is going to be a big disadvantage for them...all the talent in the world won't help if your scheme is sorry....on the other hand i think the cowboys D might start slow but will be a beast at the end of the year....what is your opinion on this?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Even though Juan Castillo has always been on the other side of the ball, he is a good football coach and he was around Jim Johnson for a number of years. The Eagles have a philosophy, which he will run. Keep in mind that they have an outstanding defensive line coach in Jim Washburn, who will also help. It may take a couple of weeks for the players to get comfortable with the system, but I don't think that's a problem.
Has the "win now" attitude in the NFL made scouting QBs even more difficult in that QBs have a smaller window to achieve success? For instance, Terry Bradshaw had touchdown to interception ratio was 6-24 in his first year, yet he is a hall-of-famer!
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think that most teams still understand it's better to sit a rookie and go with a veteran if you have one, at least for a year. But I think the problem we have right now is there just aren't enough quality veteran backups and so teams are forced to think in terms of using these rookies right away, because they just don't have a guy they can count on behind him. Remember, none of these rookies had any OTAs or offseason work with their coaches. But some still may be forced to play early, so don't expect much if they are thrown into the fire.
How do you feel about Cedric Benson this year? Overall good numbers, just poor ratios? Or worse?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
The cynic in me thinks he could have a very big year simply because they are so baad at QB. You would think they would try to avoid a pass first attack. Also, new coordinator Jay Gruden is a believer in a physical run game and he really wants to run first and throw second, so I believe that Benson would get all of the carries that he can handle.
Bill (Cedar Rapids)
Any chance you see the Denver Broncos as a possible sleeper team to make the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I don't see that at all. They've looked pretty good in the preseason, but I think they are a team with a lot of holes, especially on defense. I think they'll play hard and with John Fox, they'll run the ball better and eliminate some turnovers. In my opinion, they simply don't have the talent level right now of the other teams in the AFC West. I think they're at least a couple of years away from contending.
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
That is why I think we will see Tim Tebow by midseason, because they will be out of the playoffs and that is the perfect time to evaluate him.
Trying to get a handle on Henne, what should I be looking for in terms of improvement this year? Making good reads, not taking sacks, touch on the deep ball? Thanks for the chat!
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
He has good physical skills. I think it comes down to his decision making. Quicker reads will take away some of those sacks that he gets by holding on to the ball too long. He really needs to be definitive when he makes his throw. There can't be any hesitation. He has to commit to a pass and then finish it. He will have a new outlet option in Reggie Bush, but does he have a physical power run game that has helped the Dolphins have offensive balance? That's a big question.
do you think larry fitzgerald is worth that much $?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
Right now, I do think that, because he's one of the best 3-4 WRs in the NFL. He's the face of the franchise. If the Cardinals did not pay him, then they wasted their time in getting QB Kevin Kolb. Fitzgerald is a guy you can build around and I think that 1-2 punch gives the Cardinals a chance to be competitive in a lot of games. It's a lot of money, but they knew they were going to have to pay it.
Hey Gary. I have been trying to find analysis on how Fitz's new deal will affect the Eagles negotiations with Jacksons. Has this and Santonio's deal ruined any chance of them extending him without breaking the bank?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
Well, I'm sure DeSean Jackson will try to use it to get some leverage. But I don't think anyone thinks he's quite in the class of Fitzgerald, though he's a talented player. I think the Eagles front office will separate the two. The problem for Philadelphia is that they have more stars and the money doesn't spread that far. Jackson knows that. But Philly is a fair organization and they will pay him. Fitzgerald's contract probably seems excessive to a lot of people, but I understand why they did it.
Still negative on the skins overall?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I don't expect much from Washington. When I evaluated them on film in the offseason, I saw major holes at almost every position. I just don't know where the big plays are going to come from on offense or defense and I don't truse their QB. I think they'll play hard and they'll try to be competitive. They are in a very good division. I think their lack of depth and difference makers put them way at the back of the pack. I might be wrong, but I just think they're 2-3 years away from being a respectable team.
After 2 weeks of touchbacks, the JEts decision to let Bard Smith walk doesn't look too bad, does it?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Well, one of the big ramifications of this new kickoff rule is that both return specialists are almost taken out of the game. They're not the impact guys they've been in the past. I happen to be a huge fan of Brad Smith, but partly because of the other things he does, such as Wildcat, etc. I think his loss is bigger than a lot of people think, maybe in other areas than kickoff returns.
Slouch (Bay Area)
When will the League intervene and make the Yorks and Al Davis sell the franchises, these owners are becoming an embarrassment to the league and the Bay Area.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I don't think the league will ever get involved in trying to change ownership with the two franchises. I do think that they are going to bring the hammer down on how the fans are acting and some of what looks like is gang related problems in the stands. I'm not sure what the league can do, but I would be shocked if they don't deal with this swiftly and put a lot of resources behind it. I do know this, when going to a game for a family becomes a less great experience, the NFL takes it very seriously and they will not stand for it.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I look forward to tonight's game and probably if you really zero in on it, it's Chicago's pass protection against the Giants' pass rush. After one more game for each of these teams we'll have a better idea of where they are.