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 (4:04 PM)
This is the week that we really look closely at teams as Week 3 is when we really see a lot of the starters. You gameplan a little bit and they play into the second half. In Week 4, they rest them. This is the last real game before the season opener.
Gary, your impressions of RG3's performance vs Bears? Lessons learned for sure but anything that should cause an alarm?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
No, I don't think so. He's learning on the fly. Some days he'll look good and some days not. We know the athleticism is there. I believe his coaches are really trying to get him involved in bootlegs and roll outs where his reads are easier. I know a lot is being made out of how good Kirk Cousins looked. Keep in mind a lot of those quality plays aren't against the first string defense.
STEVE HEINDL (LAKEPORT,CA)
Do you think the Cowboys should take a look at Shawn Merriman?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I don't know that Merriman has much left in the tank. I know there was a hope that even though they switched to a 4-3 defense that he could be a nickel, situational pass rusher. When you're cut this early, it usually means you don't have much of a chance. I don't think he's been as close as good of a player since he got suspended. Although your point is well taken, if he does have anything left, it probably would be with a 3-4 defense where he can rush the QB.
Jordan (Casper, Wy)
Gary, what do you think about Dalton's arm strength comments? Drew Brees had a weak arm when he entered the league too, seems that worked out.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
A lot of the top QBs in the NFL right now don't have guns, but they are very consistent. They have great accuracy. I believe you can give up some arm strength if you know how to lead your WR and put the ball in the right spot. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, even Peyton Manning are guys that you don't think about as really throwing a lot of fastballs, but they know how to get it done. I think that's overrated. I think Dalton is just fine. What Cincinnati needs to do is develop other weapons for him other than AJ Green.
Everyone is underrating the Giants this season. Why don't they expect them to play like the team that dominated in the postseason? I mean, their biggest losses are their 3rd WR and their backup RB. What gives!!
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think we're so used to the Giants to being just an average team through a lot of the season before they kick it in late that we just don't think about them enough. I think everybody assumes that by the end of the year they'll be right in the hunt. But all of the headlines in NYC go to the other team there. They seem to be most comfortable with that. I don't think they are a very exciting and quotable team, as well coached as they are, so that's probably why they fly under the radar.
Biggest disappointment this year will be....?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Right now, I think the Jets are on that list, because I don't know if they can fix their pass protection problems and I don't know if they can get consistent QB play. That could become a huge story. Also, I have some concerns about the Cowboys. Right now, they don't look very good. I don't see much crispness to their game. I'm a little concerned about the Steelers, with age, especially on defense, starting to become a bigger issue than most realize. Those things come to mind right now.
Have you noticed any sort of decline in Jamaal Charles thus far? What are your thoughts on the Chiefs running game?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I'm always concerned about a guy coming off a serious injury at that position because RBs go down hill so fast. This is an offense that depends on the running game. I haven't seen enough of him in the preseason to form an opinion, but I think the optimism should be guarded a little bit.
Don (Lindenhurst, IL)
The Safety position for the Bears is a major concern to me now, any word on what they may do there?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
You picked one of their weaknesses very well. They're very vulnerable to vertical passes inside the hashes. Their safeties aren't a good cover group. In that Cover-2 defense, it's even worse when Urlacher isn't on the field, because he drops deep into the middle to take away some of those seam routes better than any LB has ever done. This is a defense that has a lot of age. They're real concerned about Urlacher's health. I can't make up my mind yet on what I really feel about the Bears.
To me Sanchez/Tebow/McElroy all look the same when they are lying flat on their backs. Until the Jets can fix that Offensive Line (and I do mean OFFENSIVE) Tebow would be the better choice because he's the only one that can run away from the Defensive Lineman. If they fix that line then we might be able to see who is the better quarterback. Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
You make a valid point if it continues, because Mark Sanchez is probably not going to run away from people. When the pass protection fails, the QBs start to look for the rush and they miss open receivers. I thought a year ago that ROT was a real problem as an edge protector, and yet all I heard all offseason was that position was fine. That hasn't looked to me as the case the last few weeks. If you can't protect the edge and with the run game that hasn't done anything yet, it's not a great outlook. I know the receivers are hurt, but there is just not a lot to like so far.
Should WE be concerned that teams are moving the ball on the 49ers first team D? They seem to not be moving as quick like they are stuck in a vat of donut dough. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I don't think there is huge cause for concern because this defense is so good that they'll put everything together at the right time. The coaches are so comfortable right now with their starters that they're trying to develop their depth.
Josh ( Phx)
Who do you think will be Jack Lockers favorite receiver this year?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I'm very confused right now because I thought the coaches were hoping he would grab the job a week ago, but then he played poorly, in my opinion, last weekend, with questionable decision making. I thought it was open again between he and Hasselback. I thought the coaches would wait another week. I think it's risky because they've locked themselves in and what if he plays another stinker game? Though Hasselback will be a great mentor. Kenny Britt has a chance to be an elite guy, but will he miss some games due to league sanctions? Who are the other guys that will emerge? I would guess that Locker might really lean on Chris Johnson in the outlet passing game, especially if he doesn't have Britt for an amount of time.
Kurtis (Houston, TX)
I saw that the Packers, Patriots & 49ers are the top 3 in terms of depth, and was surprised that Houston wasn't one. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
Houston's depth was excellent until this offseason. They lost the right side of their OL. They lost Mario Williams. They lost Ryans. They lost their TE. Most of those quality producers will be tough to replace. The good news is Houston has done a great job of drafting and bringing along young guys. They were able to have guys step in without missing a huge beat. What does happen is the depth behind those young guys is not as good..
Is TO going to be a factor in Seattle this year? He dropped a TD pass like his hands were pumped full of soap or something.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I probably don't have a lot of confidence that will be the case. I hear about how he still has speed and can get behind the defender, but I just don't see him having a lot of production. I wouldn't be shocked if he doesn't make the final roster.
Sleeper team in 2012 in the NFL?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I really like Carolina because I think they can have an outstanding running game. Newton gives them some explosive passing plays. Their defense is underrated. I also like Seattle, especially on defense. If they can be adequate at QB, we know the running game will be there. And even though they're not a sleeper team, I love Houston. They are ready to become the elite team in that division.
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
Hey Gary, how much do you think Donald Brown and Delone Carter being effective runners will help out Andrew Luck ?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I looked at Brown quite a bit and right now he really looks explosive to me. His production may come from the short passing game where Luck can give him space. I know this coaching staff wants to turn the Colts into a power run game, but they don't have the personnel to do that yet. But I think they'll find a lot of ways to use Brown and to manufacture a run game, even if it looks like a short pass game.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I wish tonight's ESPN game was actually a Week 3 game, where we would be guaranteed to see the starters a lot, but because it's still Week 2, we might not get that. Two really good franchises might not give us much more than we've already seen so far in training camp.
Buzzmaster (4:30 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!
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