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 (4:02 PM)
We've got Gary!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
It was really a strange Week 1. It seemed like so many of these games you were left with the idea of was one of the teams that good or was one that bad. It was hard because you're really confused to get a sense of where teams are. There are some great new storylines developing.
What team surprised you most this weekend so far?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I would say Buffalo shocked me, because they were so explosive and efficient on offense. On the reverse side, I was really surprised that KC was that bad. Houston looked really good, but the other side is that Indy is horrible right now.
Gary, How 'Bout Them Bears!!!
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Yeah, the thing I liked was that they showed offensively balance so that Atlanta couldn't tee off on Cutler. The Atlanta pass protection was good early, but it got better. The thing that I liked best was they played pretty good Cover 2 defense and they just didn't give Matt Ryan much of anything. They kept everything in front of them and frustrated Ryan. And let's keep in mind, they did win their division last year.
Did the Panthers impress you even though they lost? Maybe 5 wins this year?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Oh, I think Cam Newton did not look like a rookie in his first game. He looks relaxed. He made all of the throws. I think he's developing a good chemistry with Steve Smith. Something I really like but not a lot of people talk about is the coaches said in the preseason that they were going to get the TEs involved. Olsen and Shockey caught 7 passes. When your TEs are good targets, it makes it better for the QB, especially on third down.
With the blowout yesterday against the Chiefs, are the Buffalo Bills going to be a team that at least goes .500 this season? Or was the 41-7 win in Kansas City just a fluke?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I don't think it was a fluke. I really like Ryan Fitzpatrick. I think he may be one of the most underrated QBs in the league. I don't think they're really that good. I think KC played a really poor game. Buffalo is going to be one of those teams that will be really up and down. I don't think they have enough playmakers to sustain it. I was really happy to see them get a win like this. That will really boost their confidence, but they're still in a tough division.
I know the X-Rays came back negative on Bradford but what are the chances he starts next Monday, and if he does will he help or hurt his team more by not being 100%?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
If he can grip the ball and throw it, he's by far the best option. It's just about the velocity he can get on his passes. As poorly as the Giants are playing, the one thing they can do is rush the QB. This is probably not the time you want Bradford to take a lot of hits. What is even probably worse is if Steven Jackson is out then he doesn't have a run game he can depend on. This is not a very hopeful week if your a St. Louis fan.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Why was Romo forcing the ball to a clearly hurt Dez Bryant? Does this show why he's not a top tier QB?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Well, it was a baffling throw and if you're a Romo apologist, you probably assumed that Bryant was supposed to make a sight adjustment and run a different route. When a safety broke over the top, I immediately thought to myself that Revis can now gamble and undercut the route because he knows he has help and that's exactly what he did. I can't imagine that was the route that Bryant was suspposed to run and Romo was trying to stick the ball into a hole that wasn't there. When you saw it live, it was just the most ill conceived throw ever.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
It's my guess that Bryant was supposed to probably change his route and go over the middle. But then why did Romo throw the ball right on to the sideline? Maybe he thought that Revis would turn and run. Or maybe it was designed to be a back shoulder throw and Revis jumped it. That might have been what it was.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Is Ray Rice just that good, or was it a bad day for Pitt's defense?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I thought Pittsburgh's defense looked slower than they looked in the past. But Ray Rice is that good. His coaches in the preseason made a more concerted effort to get him the ball in space in the passing game. He can really hurt you. One of the most positive things I saw from Baltimore is the fact that Joe Flacco read all of his progressions and did a good job of checking down if the throw wasn't there. If you have Ray Rice as your check down, you still have a chance of making plays.
Are you still thinking skins 5-11?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I actually liked the Redskins the more that I watched them in the preseason. Before that, I thought they were the worst team in the NFL in terms of talent and playmakers. However, it appears to me that they have really done a nice job of putting in their zone blocking and run package. Tim Hightower is running better than I thought he would. Rex Grossman has a really good safety valve target in Fred Davis. This defense without Haynesworth seems to be on the same page. While I don't think they're an elite team, I get the feeling that they'll give you a competitive game each week. I don't think Rex Grossman can win you the game if you ask him to, but he can manage it. If they can keep games close, they can be OK. Not great, but OK.
Even though the Cowboys lost I thought there was a lot of positive to take away from this game. Do you give the Cowboys a good chance of reaching the postseason this year?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think they're still an elite team. They have playmakers on both sides of the ball. I thought their defense played pretty well, even though they have some problems in the secondary. I am bothered by the fact that as good as Tony Romo can look, he can make the one play a game that just has you scratching their head. They'll have to clean that up. I thought this was a game that they probably should have won fairly easily and yet they let the Jets get back in it.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
But I think they'll be around at the end of the season. I think one team will win this division and one will be the wild card between Philly and Dallas.
Who do u have winning Den Vs. Oak, and who will b the top Running Back and Receiver at the end of the night?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think you have to pick Oakland, just because their run game can be so dominant. If they play like they're capable of, they'll control the trenches. They'll control the time of possession. They can wear down the Denver defense. I do think that the Broncos are playing better than they thought they would. Kyle Orton is a pretty efficient guy. The one thing from the preseason is I thought their man to man type pass coverage was not very good, especially against sub packages. Orton can get hot against this defense. I just don't know if their run game is quite ready.
Jed Clampett (VA)
Eagles looked good and bad yesterday, Rams started out running through them like water though a collander. No run defense, or is it just the scheme they are using. And, also, why does Andy Reid never have any timeouts when he needs them.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I took a lot more positives from the Eagles than negatives. I will say that Williams ran hard for the Rams. I think the Eagles will get their run defense squared away. I like the pressure they produced on defense. They hit Sam Bradford a lot. We know they can match up in the secondary. Even when Vick has a bad passing day, he can cover it up with a good run day. It's the first time in a while that I noticed St. Louis didn't have great gap integrity. They were seceptible to backside plays and misdirection. Those are usually things that they excel at. But Philly can make you look bad.
Are you worried about the packers d at all? It seems like each year they have a game or two where they look bad. Otherwise, they're a fairly stingy group.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I don't worry about them at all because I think that Drew Brees can make you look bad. That's what I would attribute it too. New Orleans has a ton of weapons and Brees is one of the most accurate QBs in the game. I love the Packers' schemes and how they change up their looks. I would not worry about their defense at all.
Should the Jets be concerned after last nights game? At times they looked dominent while other times they just couldn't get it going. The defense will probably tighten up as the season progresses, but with questions at QB, RT, depth at WR and depth at RB - will the offense come around?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
This is a pressure defense. When you're that aggressive, you're going to give up some big plays and you'll have to learn to live with it. If I'm a Jets fan, I'd be a little more concerned with that offense. We talk about Tony Romo, but Mark Sanchez can do the same thing. He'll make the throws but then he'll have something that is a head scratcher. When you're playing an elite opponent, you can't make those mistakes. I do like the way they're using LT as a receiver. But I didn't think either team last night had a dominant run game. That should be the Jets mentality, pound the ball, play good defense and have Sanchez make some plays. I do think that as the season progresses that Sanchez will run more of a no huddle offense. It makes the defenses not substitute and allows a young guy like Sanchez to make his reads simple.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I thought the quality of play in Week 1 was good. I was really surprised by the amount of big returns we had in the kicking game. That might be because of the young players on kicking teams that aren't up to speed. I think we had some exciting games. It certainly didn't seem to me that the lockout hurt the quality of the game.