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 (4:03 PM)
I, like everyone else in the football world today, am happy we started playing games, but also really sad for Andy Reid and his family. Andy is one of the best guys in this sport and as strong as he is, I know this has to be a very trying time. Like everybody else, our thoughts and prayers go out to he and his family.
Brother Love (Pasadena, Texas)
The Bears allowed 49 sacks in 2011. What have they done to improve the offensive line?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think the line is still a work in progress, but I think the schemes that Mike Tice will put into play will help. We will see more two TE sets. We will see more three and five step drops, with the ball coming out quickly. We won't see the long developing pass plays that we did with Mike Martz. That will hugely increase Jay Cutler's protection. Also, we will see the tight end used in a short passing game, which can eliminate some of those sacks. The personnell on the OL is not very good, but they can get around that.
What can we expect out of Jake Locker this year.?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I heard he started out very fast in training camp, but has regressed a little bit the last couple of days. When I watch this team on film, I think they can be a playoff contender. Because of that, I think Matt Hasselback will remain the starter until they are no longer a contender. Locker is the future of the franchise, but I don't think they're in a huge hurry. Eventually, I really like him.
What preseason game are you most looking forward to? For me it would have to be Colts vs. Redskins in week 3. Our first view at RG3 vs. Luck.
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think you said the magic words, Week 3. That's the week of preseason when we really get a feel for what a team is. The regulars will play, usually, into the third quarter. We will see less vanilla schemes and it will be the one game of the preseason that resembles a regular season game. That's the week to watch. Other than that I don't put a lot of stock into it. You evaluate young players. You evaluate new schemes. For example, what I got out of last night's game is that Arizona still has a huge QB question and that this New Orleans offense can still operate at a very high level with Drew Brees, even though they are missing Sean Payton.
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
But I don't get excited about a lot of preseason matchups.
Mike Haggar (Manhattan,NY)
Having turned 30 in February, does Michael Turner have one more big year left?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think he can still be a very productive back, but I think the emphasis of that offense has switched to more of a passing game. I also think that backup RB Rodgers will get more snaps. I think we'll see more nickel packages with more throwing. His workload won't be as much. I really don't like the Atlanta OL and run blocking that much. However, it's possible that with less carries Turner can actually be fresher and put up good numbers. Though a lot of people think he's the type of back that needs a lot of work to be effective. I think he's even said that.
Kurtis (Houston, TX)
Gary I saw that T.O. could be close signing with the Seahawks. If he does, that means Randy Moss, T.O., Braylon Edwards have all signed but Plaxico Burress has yet. What is the holdup with Plaxico and where do you see him landing?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think he's in the same situation as these other veteran guys. As coaches start to get a look at their WRs in camp, these guys become a possibility. I think Plaxico is in that situation. I believe he will eventually get a shot, but I'm not sure twice. In his case it might be an injury that pushes a team to look at him. From what I've heard, he's working out and really committed to getting another shot. I still think he can be a very effective red zone target.
Chris P. Bacon (Philadelphia,PA)
The Broncos had more missed tackles from their safeties than any other defense in the league. Have they improved in this area?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Time will only tell, but I know that one of their offseason goals was to become a better tackling defense. You're right, they gave up a lot of big plays on the back end, either yards after catch or versus the run. We will see throughout the preseason if they're better in this area. The problem is that teams can't afford in the preseason to have a lot of tackling drills. That's why we see so much inconsistent tackling in this league.
Do you think the Seahawks have a top 5 defense?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I watched the Seahawks recently a lot on film, especially their defense. I love what I see. I know most are giving kudos to the 49ers' defense in the NFC West, but this is a good defense. They have great size. They make big plays. They are adequate at LB. They have tremendous versatility in the DL, versus the run and the pass. They can really mix and match on their fronts. Pete Carrol really wanted to improve the speed and athleticism of this defense and they've really done it. That will keep this team in a lot of games and make them a surprise team in 2012.
So, it's safe to say you're happy you weren't the one who chose to pay the 7 million dollar roster bonus to Kolb. I wonder why Michael Floyd was the 1st round pick after watching the offensive line last night. Isn't that the biggest question in Arizona? Kolb hasn't stayed healthy for more than three games in the NFL, regardless whether in Philly or Ariz. Find some guys to block for Skelton!
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think the OL has some problems, but I think they drafted Floyd to really help Larry Fitzgerald, who is the face of their franchise. I think the feeling is that with two big targets at WR, whoever is at QB can get the ball out quickly with a lot of jump ball passes. I like the selection of Floyd, but I think even though it was an early preseason game last night, we saw their pass protection and QB play has to be a real concern of the coaches.
How many games do you think the Saints will win this season with the loss of Sean Peyton and Vilma?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think they can come close to what they were a year go, although the NFC South I think will be stronger. Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay are good football teams. I think it really comes down to the Saints' defense. It looks to me that Brees is not going to allow this offense to take any steps backwards, even without Sean Payton. I think they'll put up big numbers. If their defense can just be middle of the road, I think we're looking at 12 wins.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I don't use the word believe and a lot of motivational rah-rah stuff, but in this case, the Saints' us against the world attitude, not only with the team but even within the city, may actually be a rallying point for the entire season.
Can Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster stay healthy the whole year (or 90% of it) to help guide the Texans to another AFC South crown and potential AFC Championship game berth?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think Houston is primed to be a Super Bowl contender. Of those three, I don't really worry about Schaub or Foster, I think their injuries were more happenstance, than something to be worried about. But Johnson does worry me a little bit because it seems like he has continuous leg problems. I see this as a complete team with good depth and I think they will really be special.
Ryan (NY, NY)
When will the Eagles and Cowboys stop being picked as NFC favorites?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I don't know that we're talking about them now. I think a lot of people really like the Giants, including myself. It's a great three team race in the East. They're all solid. How can you ever count out the Giants when they are so resilient and they play so well late in the season? This should be a great NFC East race.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
We talked earlier about how if I was really looking foward to any preseason games. I am looking forward to this Thursday's ESPN game, San Diego and Green Bay. I don't think we'll see Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers very much, but I'm looking to see how improved both defenses are. In that game, we might get some early answers.
Buzzmaster (4:30 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!