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 (4:03 PM)
Week 3 in the preseason is supposed to be the closest thing to a regular season game as most places like to rest their veterans for Week 4 to get ready for the opener. But what I think is very interesting right now is there are several teams that should be good but played so poorlyin Week 3 that we may see a different approach in Week 4 as they try to get some sort of rhythm before the start of the season.
Who wins the Roy Williams/Johnny Knox job? Roy has looked awful so why do they continue to start him.
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
It's fairly simply. The Bears WR as a group are not very big or physical. Williams gives them that type of receiver, if he's playing well. Plus, he knows the Mike Martz system having played with him in Detroit. However, I have been told that he's not in great shape and he's just not making very many plays. I think Johnny Knox is clearly the go to guy in this passing game. There are some people that think the Bears could actually cut Williams.
Did you see the Lions DESTROY the Patriots? Wow! Lions are for real.
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
That game really got my attention. I think if I'm a Lions fan, I'm really excited about the direction that we're going. Matthew Stafford has been almost perfect in the preseason. Their defensive front is the best in the NFL. However, they took a little bit of a different approach than the Patriots in Week 3. They played it almost like a regular season game, which makes sense because they're a young team trying to establish some confidence. The Patriots didn't look like they were ready to face that kind of effort. Having said that, I think Detroit may be the most improved team in the NFL this season. It will all come down to Stafford staying healthy.
Gary, how impressive did Dez Bryant look to you saturday night?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think he's making good progress. Probably the most important thing is that Tony Romo appears to believe in him. I think he'll try to get him the ball and make him his big play guy. That bodes well for Bryant, if off the field problems don't become an issue.
Have you had the time to watch much Bears pre-season? What do you think of the progress of their offensive line?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
They played much better in Week 3, but they're still a work in progress. A week ago, they were scary because they looked like the Bears of last year and that does not bode well for Jay Cutler. Keep in mind, this unit has only one starter, LG Chris Williams who played the same position in the NFC championship a year ago. The other four guys are playing a different position or new this season. You have to like the progress they're making. I think that Mike Tice is an excellent coach. Give Cutler a little credit. He's lost some weight. He looks a little quicker. You get the feeling that he's avoiding pressure a little bit better than a year ago.
Phil (San Diego)
What's opinion of the Chargers going into the season?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think as always their pass offense will be terrific and Phillip Rivers will put up big numbers. I like their defense a lot better than a year ago. I think they have a lot more depth in the secondary. They really feel like they matchup well at CB vs. spread passing games. Special teams have to be better than a year ago, and they will. I think that their success comes down to a couple of things. Ryan Mathews needs to be productive at RB to give them balance and a play action package, they need to develop another outside rusher besides Shaun Phillips and in my mind they need to keep two guys healthy: TE Antonio Gates and S Bob Sanders. They're the class of the AFC West and I don't think we'll see the slow start by them in the recent years.
Shawn (Lakeland, Florida)
What do you think about the Buffalo Bills this year? Playoffs? The Defense looks ready to roll. And the Offense getting better. Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I don't think they're close to being a playoff team, because they still have a lot of holes, but I think they are better. I think Fitzpatrick is a servicable QB. They have a talented WR corps, but young. Their OL is a huge problem. Their running game right now is questionable. Their pass rush has been terrific, that's why everyone is so excited. It looks like they have a chance to create a lot of sacks. They are already pretty good on the back end, in terms of coverage. They could be a much improved team, but I don't know if it will reflect itself in that division.
Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)
If Peyton Manning has to miss a few games, does that put the Colts out of playoff contention?
Do you think that Browns second year DB Joe Haden is poised to be a top 5 corner in the league? He started only about half the season as a rookie and finished tied for 5th in interceptions and passes defended overall. He also had a lot of tackles. Thoughts on his potential?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think he has a chance to be a real good cover corner. I know the coaches really like his upside. He seems to have a natural feel for the game. He really breaks on the ball well. his instincts are excellent. I expect him to get better with experience.
Aaron ((South Dakota))
Is Turner going to have a major impact this season? Or is it going to be a lot of Ryan through the air?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Well, philosophically, Atlanta wants to run the football, control the clock and set up playaction. They are not going to become a pass happy team, unless they are forced to play from behind. The thing that I really like about them this year, with the addition of Julio Jones at WR, you have to really honor Jones, White and Gonzalez. That really makes it difficult to put 8 defenders in the box to stop the run. They can spread the field and if you play coverage schemes, they can run the ball. If you're stubborn and stack it against the run, then someone will have a good 1 on 1 matchup. They are going to have a good offense.
Hi Gary, who has the better season this year..Tampa or Detroit? I think they are both in similar situations..up and coming teams, but playing in solid divisions. I think Tampa had an easy schedule last year and see them taking a step back record wise.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Their similarities are almost scary. They may have the best two defensive fronts in the NFL. They both have rising QBs that can be elite. I probably give the edge to Tampa Bay right now because they've won more big games, especially late in games. Right now, they just know how to win a little more. I think their running game is probably ahead of Detroit's. But these are two good football teams that are young enough to really get better in the next year or two. My only worry about Tampa Bay is that division with Atlanta and New Orleans is really tough. Although, Detroit having to play Green Bay, Chicago and Minnesota is not really a cakewalk.
Does Philly walk away with the NFC East this season?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I don't know why anybody would feel that way. I think with the exception of Washington, who I don't see as a competitive team in terms of winning the division, Dallas and the Giants are both good teams with good personnel. I think all three will battle for two playoff spots. I'll be totally honest, I don't like what I see from Philadelphia so far. I'm not sure that I like the way that Michael Vick is playing. He seems much more careless than he was a year ago. For an elite team, they're making more than their share of mistakes. I think Dallas can be excellent. I'm not as optimistic about the Giants because they have OL issues.
What has happened to Miami's O-line? I thought that was Sparano's specialty... Thanks for the chat!
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
They've had some ups and downs. I think that one thing will really help them is the rookie Pouncey. He can solidify that unit. The problem is they're blocking for Reggie Bush, who wants to be a between the tackles guy, but he's shown no ability to do that.
What do you think is the final outcome for Chris Johnson? Is this going to get done before the season starts?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Like every other negotiation, it will get done. But it may last a little longer than we think. I think Johnson is unrealistic. I've heard they will pay him as the top RB in the league, but he thinks he's the top playmaker and he's looking for QB money. You have an owner there who is stubborn. Now that we're talking about it, I think it might take a while. He's not worth Tom Brady/Peyton Manning type money.
Will The Chiefs win the West? Also, will they have Baldwin back for the start of the season?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think San Diego will win the AFC West. But I think the Chiefs are an ascending team. I love their run game and improving defense. I think San Diego is too explosive. I just look at the Chiefs as a team that will give away a couple of games that they shouldn't. I think San Diego, who has done that a lot in the past will surprise us this year with making less mistakes.
Alex (Baltimore, Maryland)
Is this the year for the Ravens that they beat Big Ben, win the division, and go all the way?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Well, they'll be a tough team to beat, because they have everything. It will come down to Joe Flacco and can he take his game to the next level. They need to use Anquan Boldin. They need to use their two-TE sets. They need to use their OL that is in a little bit of flux. Defensively, I think they'll be fine, but I have questions about their CBs. They'll be a tough team and they'll have some big battles with the Steelers. Cincinnati and Cleveland, neither look like an elite team, which means it's probably a two-team race.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
Like we said at the beginning of the chat, this could be a Week 4 that you might want to look at a little closer, because of the lost time by teams and how uneven the teams were in Week 3. We could see veterans playing into the third quarter. But the good part is that most of the teams play on Thursday and Friday, so you still have 9-10 days before Week 1.
Buzzmaster (4:33 PM)