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)
Obviously it was an entertaining wild card weekend. I think this divisional round always produces the best football weekend of the year. I think we have four really entriguing games to watch and tons of storylines.
Gary, has Tim Tebow changed your opinion of him as a football player this season?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think there are more skills that can be developed than we would like to admit. I no longer care about his mechanics, to be honest. My big hope for him is he improves his ability to read progressions and find his matchups. He can make all of the throws necessary and I think eventually he will do it with accuracy, but I just think he needs to improve at reading the field. His success Sunday was great to watch, but most of it was against very simple, man coverages where you could easily identify the matchup and then just let his skills take over. But there is no question that he is a big-game guy.
Jack (Santa Barbara, CA)
Does a good defensive team exp: Baltimore or 49ers, opt to kick the ball first in overtime and hope the defense makes a stop? Or Do you have to take the ball first?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Oh, I think you need to take the ball first, because obviously, if you score a TD the game is over. I like what Denver did. On that play, a lot of people are wondering why Pittsburgh played a zero coverage, which means they had no safety help over the top and 9 men in the box and man to man on the WRs. Denver had a run formation on offense with two TEs and they are ridiculously predictable in terms of running the football on first down. I think everybody in the stadium expected them to start off with a run. I thought it was a terrific play call. Once the WR got inside position, the CB had not chance to stay with him and they had no help inside.
Gary, although Dick LeBeau has had great defenses in Pitt for many years, he seems to always get burned in the secondary. His schemes with the front 7 are legendary but his constant below average secondaries have cost them many times..LeBeau does not adjust
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I don't think they've had a great secondary for a long time, whether they are statistically ranked high or not. They get away from it, because of their outstanding pass rush up front which forces QBs to get the ball out quickly. That didn't happen yesterday and that forced Pittsburgh into a lot of man to man coverages without inside help. I honestly think they were shocked that Tebow could have success with them throwing the ball. All of their defensive schemes were basically to stop the run.
Sean (Baltimore, MD)
Seems pretty evident we are heading toward Patriots vs. Ravens matchup, how does the Ravens defense matchup against Brady and Company?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I'm not sure it's a great matchup, because I don't really trust the back end of the Baltimore defense as much as I have in the past. I'm not sure that the Ravens matchup well against that dynamic pass offense. I think where they have the best chance to win the game is on the other side of the ball, where they can run the ball and control the clock and out-physical the Patriots. But, like everything else, it may come down to pass rush. No QB likes to get hit, especially Brady. If he has time to throw it, he can beat any defense.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, given that the two #1 seeds (Packers and Patriots) have the 2 worst-ranked defenses, do you think their offensive prowess and ability to force turnovers on defense will be enough to expect playoff success for both teams?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think that is what has to happen for them to continue on. We have said for weeks that when we get into the playoffs that weather could be a factor or that one of these offenses could have an off day. That's when one of these two teams could be in trouble. We are asking them to score a lot of points to negate their weaknesses on the other side of the ball. Weather has not been a factor yet. But you are right, these defenses do creat turnovers, especially Green Bay and that can mask some of those deficiencies between the 20s.
Is the Josh McDaniels thing being overblown? 6 days on the job not all of a sudden going to change the whole matchup for Broncos vs. Patriots
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I don't think it has anything to do with this matchup. All of us know what Tim Tebow's game is and the Patriots have tons of film that they are evaluating. We have seen this simple Denver offense for so long there is nothing new to discover. Although, having said that, McDaniels is an excellent coach and it's probably a great move.
Frank (Los Angeles, Ca)
I believe that Mike Tice will be successful with the Chicago Bears as a OC given the level of quality of the players at hand. His success will be based upon his ability to design the Playbook to be as simiple as possible in order that the average Bear Offensive player can process, react and implement the play as written.That was the problem with Maartz as he made it to complicated and the average Offensive player could not retain their primary and secondary assignments long enough to be successful consistently. Here again is and will be a victory for the "KISS METHOD"!!!PLEASE COMMENT
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
You actually make a lot of sense. Tice is an offensive line coach by trade and I believe he will incorporate a more simple scheme and try to be a lot more physical. I believe the players will embrace it. Tice is a guy that will listen to other people. He will take input from other coaches. I believe this will become a very good offense.
Maxwell (Los Angeles)
What were your impressions of Matt Flynn?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I thought he was terrific. I don't think that came as a big surprise to the coaches because they see it in practice every day. Keep in mind this is a terrific offensive system with great skilled players. I'm not saying you can just plug in a guy, but his chances for success were pretty good. It was a good audition for him as he heads into free agency to get another job.
Does Manning or Luck take the first snap for the Colts next year? If it is Luck, where will Manning be?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
You know what? I'm really torn on that. I could easily see Manning asking for a trade if they draft Luck with the realization that this team may be rebuilding and they may not be a playoff contender for the rest of Manning's career. I could see him asking for a change of scenery where they would grow and build with Luck. That's a lot of money to pay two guys at one position. I certainly don't think they want to sit Luck for any length of time. But I suppose Peyton could stay and be the starter for one year and then move on. It's a tough decision for everybody.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that one of the Number 1 Seeds will be Eliminated After this weekend or will we see Baltimore/New England & San Francisco/Green Bay in the Title Games
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think that the Giants have a better chance than most people think of going into Green Bay and pulling off an upset right now. I think New Orleans has a good chance, because of that offense to win in San Francisco. That leaves Houston and Denver. I really liked what I saw from the Texans last week. The moment did not look too big for them. Their running game is going to be hard to stop. If Joe Flacco doesn't play well, Baltimore could be in trouble. And what do you say about Denver?
Gary, if Denvers offense is so simple, why couldnt the #1 defense in the league stop it?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
It looked to me like Pittsburgh had no clue how to play the read option offense. I thought James Harrison missed a lot of plays. When you play the Broncos, you have to play assignment football defense and you have to be very disciplined and that doesn't always happen in one week of practice. These defenses don't see it any other time of the year. I personally think it's very difficult for aggressive pass rushers to all of a sudden now sit back and play those assignments and become very disciplined and under control.
John C. (Highland Mills, NY)
Did you think the Falcons played poorly or the Giants played well yesterday? In other words did the Falcons beat themselves?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
A little bit of both, but I thought Atlanta really played poorly. Their tackling was atrocious. Their pass protection wasn't great. They just didn't look like a team that was ready to play. Having said that, the Giants really looked physical, which is a good thing. When their pass rush is good, like it was against Ryan, it can really mask some of the deficiencies they have on the back end of the defense.
Jeff (South Boston)
Everyone is saying that the Patriots are rejoicing that they get to face Denver instead of Pittsburgh. Are they taking Dever too lightly?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I'm sure that the fans take Denver too lightly. My feeling was that if Pittsburgh had won yesterday that they were so beat up physically, I don't know if they could have gone into Foxboro and play a real competitive game. Obviously, I think that the Patriots will learn from Pittsburgh's defensive mistakes on how to play Tebow and they will come up with a good gameplan. Keep in mind when these two teams met in Week 15, even though New England won by 18 points, Denver played a very competitive game and three second quarter turnovers were really the difference. I think they came out of that game feeling they were getting close to having the ability to play against the elite teams. I think they will go into New England with some real confidence.
Randy (Grove, OK)
What does Romeo Crennel need to do with the Chiefs next season to go to and win in the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think that's a good hiring. He's a good guy and a good football coach. I think these players really enjoyed playing for him late in the season. I believe it will be a happy lockerroom in 2012, which hasn't always been the case. I think you have to look at the coaching market right now and I don't think I've seen a year where we just don't seem to have a lot of glamorous candidates. That doesn't mean these guys won't become good head coaches, but I think there may not be enough marquee guys to go around, so it probably makes sense for KC to stay in house.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
As we mentioned earlier, this is the best two days of football in the entire year coming up. I think all four games are very compelling.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Let's sit back and enjoy it!