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 (4:02 PM)
There are so many story lines in Week 4, it's hard to know where to start. There are some teams that I thought were elite that obviously aren't. There are some teams that have flaws that may or may not be fixed. Then there are some teams that are building great stories. The thing that you have to love about this league is that we are constantly surprised. That makes it interesting week in and week out.
Kenneth Faulhaber (Livingston Texas)
will the texans be able to make some noise in the afc
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
After yesterday's win over Pittsburgh, who, by the way, I am concerned about, Houston has shown they can beat a quality opponent. I was really impressed with their run game and zone blocking scheme. I also really liked their pass rush and the way they use Mario Williams. When this team is running the ball well it opens up playaction and bootleg and makes Matt Schaub even more effective. They are still not a great defense on the back end. But they have a lot of parts to be successful in a division that they're probably going to win very comfortably.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I'm very curious to see how Houston handles success if they do run away with the division, which is probably a testament to how week the other teams are rather than how good they are.
Todd(Pa) [via mobile]
Simply stated do you think that meltdown makes Romo and the Cowboys finished?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I wish I had the answer. I really like Romo as a QB. There are times when he makes really terrific pass plays and decisions. But for a guy with his experience, there are some head scratching plays into coverage that defies description. I think they are a very good team that probably need improvement on the OL. They're not good enough in the secondary. I just don't understand how they can blow these games late. This team has enough character to hold this team together. Really this whole NFC East is probably somewhat disappointing in terms of our perception heading into the season. But you have to like where Washington is.
Gary, Is Eli Manning an elite QB?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think he's a good QB that can have some elite days. Yesterday was probably one of them. I do like the fact that he produces without all of the weapons that he has had in the past. I think when his running game is clicking, he is really good at playaction. I think his chemistry with his receivers will improve as they are around each other more. They will start reading the same coverages. I thought yesterday was a huge character win and maybe something to really build on. Eli basically carried that offense on his back at the end of the game.
Ed (San Diego)
The Chargers have had a ton of injuries but have gotten off to an uncharacteristically fast start none the less. No one is talking about the Chargers but could they make a run in the post season this year if theyre able to get home field advantage?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think we always think of them as an elite team. There is no real good excuse for their slow starts in the past. I would caution to get too excited about them yet. When I watch them in film, I know they're a good team, but they're not playing at as high a level as they should. Philip Rivers is not as dominant as he usually is. They seem to always play down a little to the level of competition that they face. That could hurt them when they hit a couple of elite teams. I think they're probably safe in their division because Oakland is the only other real threat. Their running game is getting better. Though I'm not sure I see them yet as a dominant team. I would probably like the Patriots and Ravens in terms of homefield advantage than the Chargers right now.
The Jets look awful right now, how do you see them matching up with NE this week?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think that's probably the last place they would like to go and play. The Jets look to me right now like a team that doesn't have nearly as much substance as we thought. I'm really confused as to why their OL isn't playing better, even though Mangold is out. I don't see a run game. I see Mark Sanchez as a guy who I don't think can carry an offense on his back without a run game. I don't see a pass rush, unless they blitz like crazy. I just think right now the Patriots can dissect them with the passing game. Brady is so good at finding his receivers, especially with Welker that they can control the game with the passing offense. Rex Ryan is going to have to do his best job this week of convincing his team that they belong in a game with the Patriots. Based on the way they've been pushed around the last two weeks by Oakland and Baltimore, confidence can't be high for the Jets, unless it's false bravado.
Gary, what do you make of the Panthers run game? Do you think the staff is resigned to letting Newton attempt 45+ passes a game for the rest of the season?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I've been a little surprised that they've been as pass oriented as they ahve. I thought before the season that this would be a very conservative game plan to take the pressure off of Newton. I think the coaches are seeing on a daily basis, a guy who is so special and can make so many throws that they are taking off the wraps and just letting him play. They might think their best chance for success is to let him throw the football. When I break him down on film, they simplify things for him with half field reads, bunch formations, use of the TEs, etc. This offense has a chance to be really special when the run game becomes dominant. We may have not said this in the past, but Carolina looks to be an offense that uses the pass to set up the run.
Rich (New Jersey)
The Detroit Lions have come from twice, once by 20 and the other by 17, what has been the key to the Lions success in the last two victories and going 4-0 this year?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
We know that their strengths are their defensive line and a great passing game, led by Stafford and Johnson. But I watched film on them today and I think two really underrated units are their LB corps, which as surprising range in space and also their TE. They can put three different guys on the field at the same time with various skills. That gives Stafford other options. Maybe one of the reasons they're coming back is because they're so young and inexperienced with success that they don't realize the situation. Obviously, there's a lot of character on that team that gives them that resiliency. When I watch that team, they're a little like New England in that they have total faith in how they're being coached and their play. That probably leads them to those wins. Having said that, they're not good enough to do this every week. Eventually, they're going to have to stop doing that for them to be an elite team.
Gary, after the first 4 weeks of play, can you define the skins now and their probable record season end??
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I feel very comfortable that I have a good handle on the Redskins now. I'll be the first to admit that I was totally wrong. I thought they had the worst personnel in the NFL. I didn't think they had any playmakers. I didn't think they had a chance at the QB position. Having watched them for four weeks, I think they're very well defined in their zone run scheme, which Shanahan has had success with. They now have three backs to take the pressure off of Grossman. He gets good one on one matchups. On the defensive side of the football, I like their improved pass rush with Orakpo and Kerrigan. It seems to me that they're so much more aggressive and really flying around, which wasn't the case when they had Haynesworth a year ago. I get the feeling that these defensive players are having som fun. I don't think they are an elite team, but as I said, I think they're very well defined in knowing who they are and what they're capable of. That will keep them in a lot of games.
Gary, Do you think the Steelers will get thier act together and make a run for the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I'm really concerned about Pittsburgh. I don't know if all of their problems are fixable. I really think I am seeing a defense that looks like age is a factor and is a step slow. When is the last time we've seen a Steelers run defense that's struggled. Offensively, I think they have tremendous problems with the guys up front. Big Ben has taken a beating and I don't see their run game doing well. They still have tremendous leadership and veterans. That in ourself will get them in the mix. But I'm not sure they are elite at this stage. In the past Big Ben always carries them on his back. But I don't see that right now, partly because of the punishment he's taken.
Do you think the Buffalo Bills have a good shot at sending the Eagles to a 1-4 record next weekend?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Yeah, that's probably a true statement. Not because the Bills are so elite, but I think Philadelphia is really in a fun right now. I expect Buffalo to try and run the ball effectively between the tackles. I think that Fitzpatrick can make some plays in the passing game against this defense that has not played close to expectations. The key to me is that Buffalo pass rush to hurt the Eagles OL, which is shaky at best, and also contain Vick. The Eagles are more explosive, by far, but I get the feeling that their mindset is really confusing right now because I don't think that they ever anticipated they would be in this position. That's a hard mental thing to correct in a week.
Jon W (Denver)
are the bengals going to be able to win 8 games if the defence keeps playing this well
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I suppose that's a possibility. When you have a rookie QB, you're going to have roller coaster days. But they have a run game with Cedric Benson that can keep them competitive and they have a rookie WR in AJ Green. This looks like a team that looks like they're having fun. They're not close to being elite, but they seem to play as if they're not under a lot of pressure.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
Week 4 was a great week of football. It will be easier to watch games in Week 5 because we have our first set of byes. When you're trying to watch them all like I am, it's easier when you have fewer games to watch.