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 thought the drama in Week 1 was outstanding. The games were very competitive. I think there are a lot of teams that we may have overhyped in the preseason, but I am amazed at how many storylines there are coming out of the first weekend.
Did the Jets surprise you yesterday?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Yes, they did. I really watched them a lot in the preseason. I thought they had a tremendous amount of issues, namely at QB and the OL. I tend to think that while you have to give them credit, we may have really overrated Buffalo. Their pass rush was non existent. Ryan Fitzpatrick did not play very well. I think it's a nice win for the Jets, but I came away feeling that we overhyped the Bills.
The Cowboys' opening day win over the Giants--a fluke or a sign of things to come this season?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I don't think it was a fluke. I think they played well. I thought the key to the game was Tony Romo's ability to create time with his mobility. I thought they were very sound. I don't think the Giants played their A game, but they'll be fine.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
This is going to be a very competitive NFC East. Who expected Washington to look this good?
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
After a 9 out of 10 performance by the replacement referees this weekend how sick do you think the regular referees feel? This can't bode well for their negotiations. How long do you seen this thing going? And I haven't been able to find where these replacement came from...the NCAA?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Well, I don't spend a lot of time on it, but I think the NFL has dug in pretty good on this matter, whether they're right or wrong. As we continue to play without major controversies, the regular refs lose almost all of their bargaining skills. To me, if you get to a Sunday and games aren't won or lost because of calls, then that's a good thing. With the exception of a couple of bad calls, I didn't get the feeling that the refs in Week 1 were really a factor. I do think there are some little things that they'd call better. I saw a lot of pick plays that turned into big passing gains. I also see an abnormal amount of contact between defenders and the WRs. It seems like these guys also call more false starts than the regulars.
Chris Johnson (Tennesee)
The Pats were able to get quite a bit of penetration against my line. Should I be worried?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
Well, I really liked the Tennessee OL, although they didn't have their best game on Sunday. I would be more worried about Chris Johnson. I don't see enough toughness running between the tackles. I don't see a guy getting yards after contact and I don't see the explosiveness we'd expect in a big time speed guy. I was shocked at how poor the run game was. This was a Pats defense that may be better, but it's certainly not elite.
Will T-rich and weeden get better or is this another regular Browns season?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I don't think the Browns will be very good this year, but they'll get better, they have to. Weeden still looks like he's locking on to receivers. He throws to his first option and defenses are really jumping to his routes. Until he can establish a passing threat, defenses know they can stack the box and focus on Richardson, while getting away with single coverage on the WRs. I just think it's going to be hard for Cleveland to generate a lot of explosive plays.
mike (new jersey)
would the steelers broncos game be any different if it was at heinz field and the steelers were healthier?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Well, I think you're right on both counts. Pittsburgh was not healthy and Peyton Manning took full advantage of it. Plus that Steelers OL is a mess right now due to injuries. I also think the no huddle offense for Denver is more effective at home due to the high altitude. Defenses are forced to stay on the field and defend the quick pace, fast attack tire more quickly. I think that becomes a factor later in the game. In Pittsburgh, that wouldn't be the case.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
The Steelers will be fine. They just need to stay healthy.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Pats defense will improve enough to get Brady and Belichick their fourth ring?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I don't think it's an elite defense, yet. But I don't think it has to be with that offense. If they're a middle of the road defensive unit, that's probably good enough. I thought they go really good play out of their defensive rookies yesterday. What I would be more encouraged about is the fact that they had a run game, which they haven't had in a long time. When they have at least a little balance, that adds a whole new dimension to this offense, because it opens up playaction, it gives them a possibility to close out a game, if they need to. Those are all factors they've overcome in the past, but now maybe they won't have to.
were the pats not going to Welker on purpose do you think or were they using him as a decoy?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think everybody will say the gameplan will change each week based on what the defense gives them. I may be totally wrong, but I think we'll see Welker's production start to drop as the season goes on. It's clear to me that with Brandon Lloyd and the TEs, they like their offensive weapons. They will run the ball more and as hard as it is to say, Welker is on a one-year contract and with Hernandez and Gronk getting the big money, the Pats are probably not going to pay him after this year. Bill Belichick is a lot like Bill Walsh was: if you anticipate a player's production may start to decline, you part ways a year earlier than most people would expect. I don't know this to be a fact, it's just a feeling that I get. I hope I'm wrong because I love Welker as a player. But they got a lot of production from the slot yesterday from Edelman.
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Another possibility is that the coaches had a gameplan versus Tennessee that may be didn't really favor Welker and Belichick is a master at making adjustments week-to-week and featuring different players, based on those matchups. I'm hoping that's what it is.
Gary How bad are the injuires to the Rams O-linemen?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
They had no margin for error before the injuries. Pass protection for Sam Bradford is so critical for the success of this team. If he starts being forced to scramble and see the rush like he did a year ago, there will be a trickle down effect for this entire offense. I don't really know how they fix it.
How surprised were you with the Bears offense?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I agree with you. I don't think you can underestimate the big play threat that Brandon Marshall brings to this offense. It loosens up the defense. It forces the defense to gameplan. I really like the young WR Alshon Jeffrey. We saw in Week 1 that when Jay Cutler has speed at WR, he throws an excellent deep ball. I love the fact that Mike Tice is giving him better multi pass pro schemes to give him time. They are also taking advantage of the receiving skills of their backs on check downs. It means Cutler is not taking big hits. This is an offense that's going to get pretty exciting, I think.
Joe Rentner (Arlington Virginia)
After week one, which team do you think has the best chance at the fist overall pick?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
There are some teams out there that don't look very good. I would say right now Cleveland, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Miami and St. Louis are the teams that will really struggle. But who knows. I saw some teams yesterday that I thought were elite that either lost or were lucky to win.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I will say this, I came away from Week 1 thinking that San Francisco is the most complete team in the NFL.
What are the Eagles doing? Vick shouldn't be passing 56 times, should he?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
No, I'm shocked that they didn't have better balance. LeSean McCoy is a quality back and he needs more carries. I was really surprised by not only the INTs that Vick threw yesterday but how poorly some of those balls were. He threw into coverages that you just don't see from a veteran QB. I'm just not sure what to make of it. He wasn't facing a juggernaut Cleveland defense.
New Falcons O looked great.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Yeah. Matt Ryan can make all of the throws. He has two elite WRs and a hall of faame TE. What I liked is that he played as well as he did in Kansas City without a great run game. I really like it when he goes to the no huddle where he can feel it and call his own plays. Next Monday night, when Denver visits Atlanta that will be an interesting thing to watch with he and Peyton Manning, who does the no huddle better?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I always love Week 1, because we get two Monday night games on ESPN and that's over 6 hours of football. If you're an NFL fan, there's nothing better than that. Plus, these are two, good divisional games. It's a great way to wrap up the week.