Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, Gary Horton, stops in to talk some football and other news from around the league.
Horton, from Scouts Inc., works year-round on ESPN's NFL-related shows, including NFL32, where he breaks down film, earning him his Caveman nickname.
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 (4:01 PM)
I think now teams start to focus more on the draft, with most of the big named free agents gone. I think we'll now see a flurry of signings of guys that can build depth at an affordable price. The signings might not be dramatic, but I think free agency will still be very active.
what did you think about the Pats signings? Under the radar, but very helpful.
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
What surprised me was how aggressive they were in continuing to upgrade their passing game, which is always a strength. Franchising Wes Welker, re-signing Branch, getting Ochocinco to restructure his contract and then bringing in Anthony Gonzalez and Brandon Lloyd gives this offense unbelievable flexibility. I'm a little surprised that they didn't really address the defense. Obviously, they're going to have to do that in the draft.
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Unless they have a philosophy that they'll continue to outscore people.
Paul Roseville, Michigan [via mobile]
Why is a second string Quarterback holding a news conference?
Is the Jet QB situation intriguing or hopeless?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Well, it's not Tim Tebow's fault. He was asked to do that by the Jets. As much as a lot of people want to say it's a publicity stunt, whether you like it or not, he's a huge name. You can't expect him to just come into town, sign a contract and play under the radar. The Jets' media will not accept that and I thought he didn't have a choice. I thought Tebow handled it well and now he'll try to move on with as little fanfare as possible. I did think it was good that Rex Ryan, etc. had no part of the press conference.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think it's very intriguing, because I think Tebow will push Mark Sanchez and Sanchez will either thrive with the trade or regress because of the pressure. I think Tebow can be effective with a certain package. I think he will bring a physical style to this offense. Keep in mind this is not the Wildcat we are used to seeing, where your base offense stays on the field, your QB moves out to WR and your RB takes a snap. I don't think you can sell Tebow as a receiver. So, when he comes on the field, in my mind, Sanchez comes off and that could get a little touchy. And defenses have a better chance of adjusting with the packages that they see coming on to the field. I'm really anxious to see if Tebow can progress enough as a QB to make it an interesting race.
Frank (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
Has the intrigue of the draft lost its luster after the trade for the second pick was made?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
No, I don't think so. There's not a lot of drama that we see early in the draft. I heard today that Cleveland may trade down from No. 4. I think after those first few picks there are a few interesting guys that could go. There is some intrigue in how the QBs will come off the board. There will always been drama on draft day.
Del Rio Tx [via mobile]
How will the 49ers do in 2012?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think they'll be an excellent team in 2012. This is a terrific defense that will be even better. As their young OL will improve, their run game will get better. I really like Alex Smith to go to the next level. If they get a little more consistency out of their passing game, they will be tough to beat. I believe they are far ahead of the other teams in the NFC West.
Rich (Memphis, Tenn.)
With two starting quarterbacks in Jets camp this year, is there a possibility either Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow will be gone by the 2013 season?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Well, I think if there is ever a scenario where Tebow beats out Sanchez then I think they would probably shop Sanchez to other teams. But if Tebow remains the backup and if he does run a particular package, I don't believe the Jets will be looking to shop him. If he's the backup then that means Sanchez is playing pretty well.
Denise (Massapequa park NY)
Gary, how do you think Steelers offense, especially Big Ben will adjust to O coaching change.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I know Big Ben really liked his old OC, but this is a mature offense. I know they'll make the proper adjustments. I know they want to get back to really pounding the football. I think Big Ben can play in any offense. I don't expect there to be any drop off.
Gary, what's your favorite part about being the "Caveman"?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
To be honest, I love to break down film and go inside offensive and defensive schemes. Having that as your job is great fun for me. So many times when we watch a game, we don't get to really examine what's going on. That's why having the time to look at the film and run a play backwards and forwards you see so many things you missed with the naked eye. It's still fascinating to me after all of these years at how intelligent these plays and schemes are and at such a high level the players carry out these plays.
whats your take on oakland's offseason,think the will be better than people think
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
They've had some real salary cap challenges. That's probably hurt them for the time being. They've lost some pretty good players. They don't have a lot of money to replenish those losses. This is going to be a good division in 2012, especially with Peyton Manning. The whole key for the Raiders will be whether Carson Palmer can play at a higher level or not. As I look at their roster, I just think there are still some holes they can't fix until they get the salary cap under control.
Surprised Denver didn't go with a more competent backup than Hanie?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Yeah, I was probably a little bit surprised. But their philosophy might be what Indy had in mind, that, right or wrong, if Manning isn't in the lineup, it doesn't matter who the backup is. From what I saw of Hanie in Chicago wasn't great and there might have been guys out there more productive. But they obviously had a good feeling from Hanie.
Gary - Does the second round of FA signings continue or does it slow down until after the draft?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
No, I think we're getting ready to see a pretty good flurry of signings now. The big names are gone. Now, I think that teams have a pretty good feel for how the draft is going to go. Now, you start looking at depth needs with free agents that you can get at the right price. I don't think we'll see a lot of big contracts, but I think teams will look at needs that can fill out their roster now and maybe give them greater flexibility in the draft. I'm working right now on a needs list for all 32 teams. When you really study that, you can get a good feel for what they might address. But most teams do not wait until after the draft to fill out their needs.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
You want those guys in your OTAs, etc.
Do you think that the jets will ever win a Superbowl with either Rex Ryan or Tim Tebow on the team?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Well, they've recently been in two AFC championship teams. I think if they can get back to running the ball better and playing defense better than a year ago, they have a chance. I think this coaching staff would rather not have to win because of the QB, but be really good in all of the other areas. But also, not asking the QB to be just a game manager. I know Tebow is working hard out in LA on his QB skills. It will be itneresting to see if they have improved when we get to training camp.
The Giants Oline will have time to gel, Terrell Thomas is better than Aaron Ross, and a full offseason for prince and 4 young linebackers who all now have game experience. Why dont people think the Giants are legit contenders to defend their title?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think it's the Giants' way to be quiet in the offseason. That's always been their style. They fly under the radar and they let their play on the field speak for itself. I don't think that because we don't talk about them a lot that it has any kind of negative bearing. It seems right now that the Jets are always going to be more in the public eye than the Giants, at least until Sundays in the fall. It's just the way they do business and I don't think it's a bad thing.
What do you make of the Saturday signing? I thought it was a good short term fix while they find/develop a long term replacement for Wells.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Well, they were very concerned about losing Wells. He played very well last year and was very comfortable with Aaron Rodgers. That's why I liked the Jeff Saturday signing. He can make the line calls. And he gives them a year or two to find a long term solution. After what he had to deal with last year, I think he'll be happy to play with a team like Green Bay.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think the really smart teams in the league will use the next 10 days to really make some solid free agency signings, even though they might not look astute to us. You could really improve your roster on this second wave of free agency. It can also give you flexibility on draft day.