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)
Yesterday's games reminded me of two heavyweight fights, where both teams were physical. We didn't see a lot of physical plays. I thought they were as well matched as any championship games we've seen. The teams that lost, it will take a long time for them to recover. I'm sure that both felt they should have won the game. Having said that, I love the rematch in the Super Bowl.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
Shouldn't the Giants be favored in the Super Bowl???
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I agree that the Giants are really hot right now. But I don't know how you pick against the Patriots based on their record and body of work. I love the fact that the Giants have really gotten on a roll in the last month, much like the Packers did a year ago. But the Patriots have been much more consistent the entire season. I think we'll probably not as excited about them right now, because they didn't play their best game against Baltimore.
John C (Highland Mills, NY)
Hi Gary,I am a Giants fan I do feel like we have had some good fortune fall upon us. Do you remember other Championship games that swing on "luck"?Thanks
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I would probably agree with you. It seemed like both games were decided by somewhat fluke plays. Both games ran the gamut of emotions for both teams. It just seemed like the old addage that whoever had the ball last wins.
Gary, how will BB plan against the giants wr's even though earlier in the year nicks and bradshaw didn't play and they still won.......
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think he'll play a lot of combination coverages. We may see him come out in a lot of nickel schemes. Last week, we saw at times four CBs in the game with McCourty actually lining up at safety. The problem with that is it makes them vulnerable to a power run game. New England is not a great press secondary, so I'm not sure they can get real physical with the Giants receivers. They may play some man overs and over the top schemes to confuse Eli.
Mike newyork [via mobile]
What type of a offseason do you envision the ravens having?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think they'll keep the core of their players for one more year. This impresses me as a team that really feels they are close to winning a Super Bowl. I don't think they'll have a lot of turnover or change. I think it's a very stable roster. Although it would not surprise me that this was Matt Burke's last year. I think in the offseason, they will work hard to figure out a way to get better production out of their TEs, like we see at New England.
SHould we be concerned about Brady's performancE? Well below his standards.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I don't think so at all. Every great player has off days. This was not an awful performance. We're just so spoiled in watching Brady that we expect perfection and we don't always get it. Baltimore is a good and complicated defense. They give you a lot of different looks. They just made Brady a little uncomfortable. He didn't get into a rhythm. But he also made some poor throws.
obviously, the Ravens put out the blue print to stop the Pats. Do the giants have the personnel to do that?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think the problem for the Giants is in the backend of their defense. At times they're forced to play with three safeties which is not always a great matchup for the Patriots' receivers. I also think they'll try to be physical with New England and that may or may not work. This game probably comes down to the TEs down the seams, where the Giants can be vulnerable. Also, don't be surprised to see Brady go a lot of no huddle, spread the ball out. We know what we're going to see week to week from the Giants. There's not a lot of mystery about their defense and personnel schemes. What we don't know is what Bill Belichick will cook up for this Patriots offense to give new looks.
Didn't the Pats and their much maligned defense just prove that they can win big games when Brady is not at his best?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I thought they played better in the last two weeks than I've seen them most of the year. Vince Wilfork is almost unblockable right now inside. The LBs are healthy, finally, and they are all good athletes with range. I think they are very much underrated with their edge pass rush.
Gary, is the game going to come down to the o-line, and d-line b-cuz the giants pass rush has to get to brady for them to have any kind of chance winning this game........
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
You could very well be right. This game could be decided in the trenches. We know now that both QBs can pick apart a team if they have the time to throw. Eli went beyond that in San Francisco by completing a lot of passes under duress and taking some hits. I think the pressure that both defenses would like to produce is from the inside. Neither of these QBs are mobile. Both like to step up in the pocket and both hate it when flushed out of the pocket. I believe that we will see defenses try to attack them in that manner.
The season Victor Cruz is having defines the term breakout, does it not?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Yes it does. I don't know that anybody ever saw this coming. What impresses me about Cruz is I knew he had big speed and big play ability, but he is playing a lot out of the slot right now, which allows him to use his quickness and get some yards after catch. That appears to be making him a complete receiver. I see defenses now game planning to stop Cruz, with various coverages and press schemes. But he still manages to get open and make big plays. He is probably the ultimate break out player of 2011.
Do you give any credence to "the Ravens lost the game more than the Patriots won"
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Well, that's always hard to categorize. I thought these teams were so well matched. There is a lot of similarities to them. I thought it was a physical game that either team could have won. It always hurts you to see a game like this be lost on a special teams mistake, but who knows if the Patriots would have still won the game in OT. I just think that if I'm a New England fan, I feel good about the fact that we were able to win when Brady didn't feel great. For most of the season, that was a huge concern when we looked ahead to January, and they got away with it.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Where does Brady rank all time if he captures a fourth Super Bowl ring?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I would probably put him at the top of the list, if he wins another one. What I love about Brady, he's done it with all types of personnel groupings and offensive schemes. He's done it at times without a good defense. He hasn't always had a deep group of playmakers. He just makes everybody better around him.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
Which team does the Super Bowl bye week help more???
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I might say it helps New England more. Merely from the fact that Belichick is so good at innovative gameplans that giving him an extra week to prepare might be an advantage. That shouldn't take anything away from the Giants, because their coach is obviously smart and experienced, but they don't give you as many different looks as the Pats. You pretty much know what they're going to do on a week to week basis. They will just try to beat you physically and outplay you with those fairly simple schemes.
Why this sentiment out there that the Pats are unbeatable? The giants beat them in Week 9 while missing two of their more important offensive weapons and they are playing much better on defense now then they were at the time.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Oh, I don't think there's a feeling that the Patriots are unbeatable. I think this will be a very close game. This will be an absolutely even match. I do think that the Patriots we saw beat Baltimore yesterday will probably play better in Indianapolis. Being inside on a fast track will probably help them a little bit. It doesn't seem that either team is running the ball very well right now. Both teams can spread you out. Probably, it comes down to defense and in that situation, you'd give the edge to the Giants. I'm obviously watching film all of this week, breaking down telestrations. Neither was perfect on Sunday.
these games yesterday were won and lost based on kickers, backup punt returners, etc etc. yet, the QB's are judged on W's and L's. Makes no sense.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
Yeah, that's the problem with putting a game into players hands like we saw yesterday. You can be a great QB, play 60 minutes of great football, but the game can be decided on a kick or a return. I know there are some people that wish they would take that part out of the game. Obviously, it has to be disheartening to feel like you outplayed the opposition and lost the game on what you would call a fluke play. The one thing I learned as a scout in the game is you don't know how many chances you'll get to the Big Game. I was in this situation three times with the Cleveland Browns. It really hurts to be right there and not finish.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
And many of the people involved know that they may never get this chance again. For the way they lost it, it makes it even more difficult.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I think this is the best possible matchup we could have going into the Super Bowl. These are two heavyweight teams. I think it would be an entertaining game. My guess is the ratings will be off the charts. They'll have two weeks to hype it.