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 (4:04 PM)
I was so impressed with Detroit and Buffalo yesterday. These are really fun teams to watch. While they might not be headed to the Super Bowl, they're headed in the right direction. I think they're here to stay. On the other hand, I'm really bothered by some teams we're thinking are elite. There's just something missing. Like a car not hitting on all cylinders. They're just not right. I look to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Philadelphia Eagles. Even the Patriots. Atlanta. Those are elite teams that are not playing like it. But I do think that some of those problems are fixable. As usual, I think we'll have a great NFL season and it will be fun watching these teams that haven't been used to winning in the past.
do you think that cam newton has the skills to be an nfl superstar
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I don't think there's any question that he's headed in that direction. Even though his numbers weren't nearly as good Sunday as the first two weeks, he actually played a pretty good game. He showed he can produce when everything's not working for him. As we said last week, the coaches are doing a great job of giving him some easy reads, only having to look at half the field at a time. That allows his great athletic skills to take over.
Who wins tonight Gary?Score?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I actually wrote this matchup for ESPN.com and I took the Redskins. Part of it is how many injuries Dallas has. I just don't know how Tony Romo can play that effective. I really like the Washington run game. I like the way they use their passing game as a supplement. I think they can attack the back end of the Dallas defense with the pass, because they just don't have the depth. The other thing I like about Washington is their two edge rushers Orakpo and Kerrigan. They're like Buffalo and Detroit in the sense that they are having fun and playing loose. I think I picked them 17-13.
Rich (New Jersey)
With the recent injuries to Michael Vick, how much of a safety issue concerning Mike in his next game and remainder of the season?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think you always have to have a concern with Vick, because of his style. He's not a big, physical guy. The thing that alarms me is about the recent hits is it seems most of them come with him being in the pocket. We've always made excuses for him being in space and running. But now he's being hit because his OL isn't protecting him. And I don't know what to make of that. He was making a concerted effort to become a better pocket QB to eliminate those open field hits. In my mind, the Eagles will have to be ready to play 3-5 games per year without him and hope that he's healthy for the playoffs. That's just a fact of life.
Do you think the Bills are going to be a playoff team, or are they just having a good start?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I wouldn't put them in aplayoff team category right now. They are fun to watch, because they are so well coached and so fundamentally sound. I studied their offense today and the things that stuck out were their ability to play spread offensive looks and run the ball against nickel packages. They also do a great job in the red zone. They lead the league with 11 TDs in 13 red zone trips. The big play by Fred Jackson on Sunday to set up the game winning field goal, he was set up out wide like a WR and he had the perfect route underneath on a crossing route. I think we give Chan Gailey credit for putting his guys in position and manipulating defenses to get what he wants.
Marty (St. Cloud) [via mobile]
How's Andrew Luck going to look in a Vikings uniform?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I don't think the Vikings are going to be the worst team in the NFL. They don't look good right now, but they have too many playmakers to not turn things around somewhat. I'm not saying they're going to be a playoff team or close, but there are too many veterans to lay down. They have too much leadership to make them competitive. I think right now the leading contender for Luck is the Colts and maybe Seattle after that.
Do you see the Steelers using multiple draft selections on the offensive line this coming NFL draft? Their line looks putrid!
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Yeah, they have tried to patch this OL for years. I think they probably get a little fooled because of Big Ben's ability to elude the pocket and extend the play. But defenses are just no teeing off on them. Even Big Ben can't avoid that much contact. The Steelers are really good about knowing what their needs are and then filling in. But the only guy I see right now that I am really comfortable with is Pouncey at center. They're going to need a lot of help.
Lewis (flint michigan)
Hi Gary, Stafford took some big shots yesterday and still got it done. Is he the real deal?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
There is no question that as long as he stays healthy, he's an elite QB. His chemistry with Calvin Johnson is becoming really special. But I do worry, as you say, the hits that he takes. The problem for Detroit is that they really like to use their TEs in the passing game, which is great on third down, but that also leaves for a lot of 5-man protection schemes. Detroit is going to have to decide if they can continue to do that. If he goes out for any length of time, they become yesterday's story.
The Giants overcame all odds to win yesterday. What do you think that says about the possibilities this season?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I still think their margin for error is more slim than a lot of people would like to admit. Eli was magnificent with a beat up receiving corps. The run game was effective. What I liked best was how they maneuvered their passing game to get great one on one matchups. That goes back to Kevin Gilbride and their playcalling. To me, everything has to go right for them each week for them to win. They just don't look like a team that can overcome a lot of bad breaks.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
This division, all of a sudden, looks pretty balanced. I don't think anyone's going to run away with it.
Why does no one talk about Mike Vick's regression. Since the Bears game last year I can't remember an impressive outing by him.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I tend to agree with you. I really watched him a lot in the preseason. I thought I saw some old habits, such as not taking care of the football. Trying to force the ball into windows too tight. Making bad reads that a guy with that experience shouldn't. To be honest, I think right now he's trying to decide if he's a pocket QB, who should move around and get the ball to his playmakers, or is he a guy that should tuck the ball and run as soon as he sees an opening. When I look at this team right now, something just seems to be missing. I thought yesterday, and I don't have anything to substantiate it, that he just didn't look right. He didn't look sharp and on top of his game. This offense right now just doesn't have the explosiveness that it should, although you have to love the way that McCoy is playing at RB.
Gary, what are your thoughts on the Bears wr's? I feel like none of them have the ability to create separation from the defender and because of that none of them get open which results in Cutler holding the ball too long and getting sacked more often than usual
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I don't know that I can say any more than that. You just defined their problems in a nutshell. They don't have great separation guys. Green Bay has given up passing game in chunks other than yesterday. For one time, I don't think we can blame the lack of success on the run game, because I think Green Bay said they were going to stop Matt Forte and make Cutler beat us and it just didn't happen. I'm really worried about the lack of playmakers in the passing game. I think they miss TE Greg Olsen more than anybody will admit. He was a chain mover on third down.
Jason P (Orlando, UCF)
If you're an elite team with an elite quarter back (NE-Brady, IND-(healthy) Manning, GB-Rodgers) when do you start shopping for your next up & coming elite QB? A seemless transition is always favored, but do you think signing a "prodigy QB" has an ill-effect on the current QB's mentality?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I don't think so at all. If you're an elite, veteran QB, you're not worried about your status. I would draft that elite guy sooner than later, even if he has to sit for 2-3 years to get ready. Keep in mind, as veteran QBs age, injuries can be an issue. You also have a great, young guy as a backup that may garner tremendous trade value. I don't think you ever pass up on a great college QB, if you can get one. I don't think any coach cares about hurting a veteran's feelings. If they're that good, it won't matter.
Assuming Peyton comes back to play next year could a horrid subpar year be seen as a win for the franchise in the long run with the ability to bring top talent in with high draft picks?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I don't think you ever think in terms of losing is good. But I think what the Colts will go through this year is to evaluate their entire roster, not just the QB position. They need to see if their philosophy of personnel still works. Whether we like it or not, they absolutely acquired players on both sides of the ball with Manning in mind. Now, you have to go away from that and build toward the future. I think this will be an excellent year, whether Peyton comes back or not to blow it up and start over. Get a little bigger, little stronger. I do not see this organization standing pat and say, hey, we have 2 or 3 more runs with Peyton. It might happen, but I wouldn't count on it.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
It looks to me as we get through our third week, that maybe nobody is going to run away. We can now see that even the teams that look unbeatable have their flaws. That's not to say some of them won't have everything fixed for the playoffs. But I don't think we're going to see a lot of 15-1, 14-2 teams. I think this is the year we see 11-5, 10-6 winning their division. That's great for the fans. We'll always have the NFC West that looks like they will have a playoff representative under .500.