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 (4:04 PM)
It seems to me like the elite teams are really starting to separate from the pack now. I look at Green Bay, New England, and New Orleans as a step above everybody else, with San Francisco, Baltimore and maybe Pittsburgh right behind them. I think we are headed for a great month of December and playoff race.
Chris (San Lorenzo, CA)
Are the Niners a legitimate contender to the Packers? Do you think the Niner defense can contain a saints/packers offense?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Right now they're playing defense at a very high level, especially against the run. I think they have the type of game on both sides of the ball that will work well in the playoffs and they don't make a lot of mistakes. My fear is that we may be overrating them a little bit because that division is just awful. As much as I like them, yesterday, St. Louis was just embarrassing. I'm not sure how they will hold up against an elite team in January. But this is a well coached team that does not beat themselves. I just don't see them falling apart in the playoffs. I don't know if they have the fire power of those elite offenses.
Do you still like cowboys chances of winning the division?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Yes I do. I think the Cowboys have more weapons than the Giants. To lose that game yesterday is an absolute embarrassment. I don't understand how they can play down to the level of competition like they do. I could see them being a one and done playoff team. They have a lot of talent, but I don't see that being translated consistently on Sundays.
What do you see is the future of the Dolphins franchise and their coach? Is Moore the answer or should they keep looking?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think Tony Sparano has done a great job of holding this team together. Getting them to play hard. Mike Ditka said a couple of weeks ago, a team to really watch out for as a spoiler down the stretch was Miami. Obviously, he was right. The problem I see is you have ownership that want a splashy name in South Florida. I don't know that Sparano is that type of guy, even though they're winning. As for Matt Moore, I think he's getting closer to maybe being the answer at QB. If they don't have to go out and get a QB, it will really help them in other areas of need. But again, you have ownership that wants flashy and wants marquee names and that could encourage them to go out and get a young guy to build around. But right now, I'm close to thinking that Matt Moore is the answer. But it's good that we have another month to evaluate him. What really impressed me yesterday was how physical they were against the Raiders, who usually try to be the bullies. But this time, the Dolphins bullied them.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, in the "ashes" of a 2-10 season for the Vikings, I'm really feeling optimistic about what Christian Ponder is bringing to the team. While he's making some rookie mistakes, he also seems to be improving as a quarterback. Do you agree with my assessment, and what do you feel may be Ponder's ceiling for the future as to how good he may become?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I feel exactly as you do. When I watched the film from yesterday, I did see some mistakes and a couple of bad decisions, but I saw him make some precise throws. I came away after the film feeling like he's really headed in the right direction and I don't think they have to worry about the QB position.
Gary, are the Jets putting a win streak together that will get them in the playoffs, or do you believe they don't quite have what it takes?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
The Jets continue to confuse me, because I thought they looked very lethargic through 3 quarters and let Washington hang around. In the fourth, it was almost like they decided, "hey, let's go win this thing." No question they have playmakers on offense and defense. But there's something missing on this team. They get ambushed by inferior teams. I just don't see them being dominating the rest of the way. They don't play with the same swagger from a year ago. Yesterday was a nice win, but remember, this Redskins team is not very good at all. If you're an elite team, you should have put them away early.
Shu (The ATL)
Gary,Help me understand Garrett's logic. Not on the FG attempt but on not calling a TO with 23 seconds and you have two of them.
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
There have been all sorts of explanations and I'm flabergasted by it. Supposedly, his timeout was because he wanted to confirm with his special teams coach and make sure they had everything squared away for the kick. In terms of the kick itself, I think his kicker knew he had an open play and just went ahead and made the kick. I don't think it was as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. But it was obviously a bizarre play. When I watch the Cowboys, I get the feeling that everybody is coaching and playing scared. I look at Tony Romo and he doesn't seem to have a lot of freedom and trust. That's just a perception of mine, but it just doesn't look like a very confident group.
Will my falcons make the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
Based on what I saw yesterday, I'm not sure. This is usually a very efficient Falcons team with a very cool QB. But he looked uncomfortable against Houston. I do not think they played with confidence. I just don't know what we're going to get on a weekly basis. Before yesterday I would have said absolutely. But now, I just don't know. Like a lot of teams, we just don't know week to week.
Rich (New Jersey)
In the thrilling Packers 38-35 shootout victory over the Giants, what are the chances the Packers will go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl and the Giants chances of making the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I would think right now that they will go 16-0. I thought this was the toughest game they had left on their schedule against the Giants. The rest of their games are very winnable. I love the way they're approaching this win streak. They're not running from it. They're embracing it. Even though they're taking it one game at a time, I think they're having fun with the chance to go undefeated. How fun would that be for this storied franchise? We know their offense will be explosive from week to week, but I like that their defense is coming on to make big plays. They still give up a lot of yards and some big plays, but they still come up when they have to. My biggest fear is that if they get into a bad weather game and they need that run game, I don't know they have it.
Frank (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
Gary, what is the higher offseason priority for the Vikings: offensive line or secondary?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think they're both a disaster right now. They really lack good cover skills on the back end in their defense. When they go to man to man schemes, they really struggle. But this offensive line that we thought was so good for so many years has really fallen apart. I think the Vikings made a huge miscalculation on how close they were to being a Super Bowl team and they kept too many guys around for too long to make a last run. Now it will take some time to rebuild it. I think we'll see some major changes this offseason. It's hard to imagine how hard and fast they've fallen.
Matt P (Berkshire, NY)
Who do you see as the wildcards from the NFC?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
There are four realistic teams for two spots, Atlanta, Chicago, Giants and Detroit. But I think the Bears are out of the race. So, in my opinion, it's probably three teams for two spots. Atlanta looks like they are in good shape. That would leave the Giants and Detroit for the last spot. I would probably have to like the Giants.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
Having said all of that, every team that we thought was headed to the playoffs lost yesterday. All four of those teams lost. So, this may go right down to the wire.
I know injuries are part of the game but come on this is getting ridiculous. The Texans keep winning but it seems like every win comes with an injury. Have you ever seen a team get hit with this many injuries with their starters?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think we have always thought of the Texans as a semi-soft team that faded late in the season. But they're just the opposite this year. They're showing resiliency. They're getting past these injuries. I really like this team right now. Yates has a chance to get them through the month of December. I just like their overall toughness and ability to deal with these injuries. I think their gameplan will work in the playoffs, which is a great run game, playaction off of that and a dominating defense. They are making those things happen. I think that makes them very dangerous. Though how good could they be if they had all of their guys? All four of their remaining games are certainly winnable.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
So, I would not count them out at all.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
This is the biggest shock of the year, we went through an entire chat and didn't have one Tim Tebow question. Maybe that's a good thing. Though I will answer a hypothetical question. I thought yesterday, for the first time in his career, he looked like an NFL QB. We saw less of an option offense, more of a traditional attack. He made some confident throws. This is an offense that I can't wait to watch every week.
Buzzmaster (4:30 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!