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 (4:02 PM)
It seemed like we had more exciting games that went down to the wire with bizarre plays than I can remember on any one NFL weekend in a long time. It was such great TV to watch that you almost forgot how bad the officiating was, but the reality is that's still a huge problem and it's not getting better in my opinion.
Deven (Buffalo, NY)
Were the Bills lucky to win that game, even after Spiller went down?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
No, I think the Bills are a pretty good football team. I like the way their defense is finally playing. I think they're getting unexpectedly good pass protection from their offensive line. Fitzpatrick finally had a consistent day throwing the ball. While they are not elite, I think they'll be a team that gets better as the season goes on.
Biggest surprise? Arizona or New Orleans?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
Wow...that's a good question. It would have to be New Orleans. I thought the Cardinals defense would be good, but I didn't know they'd be this dominant to go to a 3-0 record. But the collapse of the Saints is baffling to me. Their defense doesn't slow down anybody. But I thought their offense would be good enough to overcome the mediocre defensive play. This team doesn't look like they're in sync in any area. I thought yesterday they would right the ship and get back on track against KC, but after watching that, I don't know where this freefall stops.
If GB slows down Seattle rush game tonight, I don't see the Seahwaks having a real shot. You?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think Seattle has an excellent chance to win, because their defense is so physical. I think they will really give Green Bay receivers fits and gain separation. But you are right, if the Packers can stop the run game and force Russell Wilson to beat them, it's a whole other matter. But it's such a tough environment to play in. A lot of teams have gone to Seattle with a better team and not won. The Seahawks are playing with a lot of confidence right now.
Out of the remaining undefeated teams, which one do you see going the longest before receiving a loss?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I thought San Francisco looked almost unbeatable, but that didn't happen. I think right now Houston might be the most complete team. They're in a division that should be easy for them to sweep. I love their depth. I think they can overcome some injuries. They just really seem to be solid in all phases.
The Bills are now 2-1 but play NE,SF,and AZ the next 3 weeks in a row how many do you see them winning and is the New England game a MUST win?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I'm not sure that at 2-1 anything's a must win. But I think they to have to at least win one of the three. But they probably don't have the talent of New England or San Francisco. They do matchup well against Arizona. I think this will be a Bills team that has some peaks and valleys. They look good one week, struggle the next.
demon birdsboro pa [via mobile]
How about all the fights that are about to happen in almost all the game i saw thanks to the replacement refs. And are the old refs ever coming back to the nfl to ref again?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I wish that would be a factor, and I agree with you. I think we're right on the edge of having some major problems in that area. You get the feeling that the players don't respect the replacements refs like the regular officials. You also get the feeling that they are pushing things as much as they can. I just think that things aren't getting called. I'm sure the defensive players are loving the fact that they are letting them play. I don't think that will get the regular refs back any quicker. In my opinion, the public has to probably be strong in their demand to get this thing done that the league acts on it. But as so many experts have said, people are still going to watch the games so maybe the league says they'll just outlast the officials. I just don't know.
Who wins and why tonight Gary?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
As I've watched both of these teams on film the last few days, I like Seattle's chances. I think they can control the ball with the run game, which keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field. I think their defense can be physical enough with the Green Bay receivers to disrupt the timing of their passing game. It's just so hard for a team to go into Seattle and play their 'A' game. This is a big deal for the Seahawks, to play on a Monday night in front of a national crowd. As well as the Green Bay defense has played early in the season, I don't know if they can keep that up. I think this will be a very physical game, not as high scoring as we might think. And it wouldn't surprise me to see more chippy plays.
Do you think Cutler's attitude holds him back from being elite?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I don't really know. That's just his personality. He's probably not going to be a guy that everybody warms up to. When I see him, there are times when I feel like he doesn't care what other people think. If you like what he does, fine, if not, oh well. I'm not sure if that's the case, but that's how it appears. I just don't know if he'll ever be beloved, but I'm not sure if that's important.
Are the Redskin's defensive backs as bad as they've looked so far? Is it a lack of talent or something else?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think there is some injury problems that is robbing them of their depth, especially when offenses spread things out. With the loss of Orakpo and Carriker, it really hinders their pass rush. That puts the DBs in a position to hold their coverages longer than they should. It's a real trickle down effect.
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
Hey Gary, would you rather have Joe Flacco or Matt Ryan?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Oooh. That's an interesting dilemma. I would have to say Matt Ryan right now. He's just playing with so much poise. He's hitting all of his weapons. He sees the entire field. I love the way he can run the no-huddle offense.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I love the way Flacco has been playing, but I still get the feeling that he can have inconsistent play every now and then and I don't see that right now from Ryan.
The Lions have been touted as having one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, but week after week I come away disappointed. They got schooled yesterday and it seems teams know that all they have to do is get the ball out quick and let the poor DB's/Safety's mess up. What say you?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I am really surprised that their DL hasn't been more productive with big plays. We know this backend of this defense really has issues, but in the past they've gotten away with it because the pass rush forces the ball to get out quickly. But I don't see that right now and opposing QBs seem to have enough time to go through their progressions. The other weakness this line has is they are so aggressive that you can trap them and create big lanes because they are so intent on getting to the QB, even though it's not happening. I really liked the Lions going into the season, but something is just not happening.
I am glad I am not a qb. Rono, Vick, RG3 and Schaub took some brutal hits yesterday. When will the players make this officiating experiment end?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think the players are already doing that, but I don't know who's listening. I sensed, after yesterday, that the players were much more frustrated than they were in the past. And you're right, QBs are getting hit at an alarming rate. I have never seen so many presnap penalties, like false starts. The contact between WRs and safeties is absolutely ridiculous. Maybe, if the players really speak up this week, something will get done. That's an interesting way to look at it. I would hate to see one of our elite QBs go down with a significant injury because penalties weren't being called.
Everyone was so quick to crown the 49ers as the league's best team then what happens. Any modest explanation for what exactly happened yesterday?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I am shocked at how poorly they played, especially on defense. They were horrible versus playaction. I have never seen this team not look ready to play. We know that Minnesota is not a juggernaut. The Metrodome is not necessarily the most difficult place to play in. I think it's just an example of a really good team being flat. We know in this league that's going to happen. Nobody has their 'A' game for 16 weeks in a row. Although, I did not see the 49ers as a team that would not look prepared.
JT (Stafford, VA)
Mike Nolan has the Atlanta defense shutting down some pretty good offenses. Does a new coordinator really make that much of a difference?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
They're much playing much better than I thought they would on defense. Interestingly, their 3 CB package as a base defense is really playing well, they mix up their coverages and they just don't make a lot of mistakes. It doesn't hurt that they are really starting to play with a lead where they can tee-off on opposing offenses. With their offense being so good, they don't have to be a great defense, they just have to be solid and they're certainly that right now.
Is the safe to say RIP for the New Orleans Saints? I don't see anything that tells me this team is turning things around. They had a large lead against the CHIEFS for goodness sake and still could not hold on.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I know it's early, but it looks like Atlanta will run away with the division. That means they have to be a wild card team to get into the playoffs. But I don't see their defense getting significantly better. While we thought this offense could carry them, that's not the case right now. I thought they could go the other way and really fall apart. To me, they looked shocked at how they're playing and I'm not sure they know how to climb out of the hole.
What do you think of the Bears front seven so far? Dominating to say the least...
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think it's more of the front four than the front seven, though the LBs are playing well. They have lots of sacks so far and most of that pressure is coming from the front four. When that happens, you can put 7 guys back in to coverage, which really helps in pass defense. They have good discipline. I thought coming into the season that a new offense might have to carry this team, because the defense is getting old, but it's the opposite right now. But I think the whole key is how the front four is playing.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I think we're lucky again to get a great Monday Night game. I continued to be amazed at how popular our game is and how exciting these finishes are.
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