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)
It was great to have the regular officials back in Week 4. It seems like the games went faster and smoother. I continue to be amazed at some of the finishes we see in these games. I don't know if we've ever had a more exciting year.
Troy (Burlington, WA)
Is Pete Carrol putting his job on the line with Russel Wilson? I mean with the defense we have and the running game (Lynch 6 yds/car and Turbin 7yds/car yesterday) we still lose to the youngest team in the NFL. Wilson has been put in a place he shouldnt be in. Carrol's ego is getting in the way in my opinion. With this team if we have an average passing game we are a playoff team. Carrol is blowing it and we should be 1-3 if his ego is getting the best of him he has got to go. Bring me Bill Cowher with what we got and I see instant success. Our defense is ridiculous even when they play poorly like yesterday.
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I don't think it's an issue now, but I think it's something he has to look at. You're exactly right. This is a pretty good football team in other areas, but they're not getting the production they need at the QB position. I would think that ownership would get a little nervous with a high priced Matt Flynn sitting on the bench if they continue to struggle at QB. I don't think that enters the mind of coaches. The Seahawks look like a potential playoff team, but in my mind if they struggle for a couple of more weeks they'll make a change.
Bears win outright tonight, you agree Gary?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
No, I don't agree. I think these two teams are very similar in a lot of areas. I don't expect it to be an explosive, high scoring game. But I think Dallas, at home will win because of their aggressive defense and a good night by Tony Romo. I don't think either of these teams are elite, but I think Dallas has a little more explosiveness than Chicago. I just don't believe right now in Jay Cutler, even though he has great skills.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Were there any Bad Calls in the NFL on Sunday with the Regular Officials Working?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
There are going to be calls that people question, no matter who the officials are. There were a couple of questionable calls in the Green Bay game, but I think they did a good job. I love how definitive these officials make their calls. They don't give the players a lot of room to complain. You just get the feeling that they're totally in control. I think that's terrific. At least these refs appear to know the rules. That's a pleasant change.
Brian (Fishers, IN)
Any thoughts on exactly why the Chiefs are so horrible? Cassel's been bad, I know, but it seems to me he is only part of the problem on a team that doesn't seem to be doing much of anything right. And all we heard in the offseason was about their talent as a young, up-and-coming team, and Crennel's second chance being well-deserved. Do you think Hunt needs to totally clean house?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think defensively, they're not very good along the defensive line. They don't make enough key stops. I think you're right about Matt Cassel, he doesn't play with enough consistency. When they turn the ball over, they're not good enough to overcome it. There is something missing with this team that's hard for me to get a handle on. They just don't play with a sense of urgency every week. I don't get that.
Based on what you've seen the first 4 weeks of the season, whose the best team in the NFC west, Niners, Cardinals, or Seahawks?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Oh, I think it's the 49ers. They're a team with very few flaws and they can beat you in a lot of ways. The Cardinals and Seahawks, obviously have had QB inconsistency and both are really keyed by their defense, although the Seahawks really run the ball well too. What impresses me so much about the 49ers is how creative their schemes are on both sides of the ball. They have more varied personnel groupings than any team I've seen.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - the Jets offense was a mixed bag going into the season but the D was supposed to be a strong group. Even with Revis they have had a hard time stopping teams. Do they have the players who can execute Coach Ryan's & Pettine's game plans?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think the Jets are in big trouble. I agree with you that their personnel is not nearly as good as they thought it would be. I don't think they're a great matchup team. I don't see a lot of explosive weapons on either side of the ball. Without Revis it takes away a lot of the things they like to do. But I'm not sure it matters because offensively, they're a mess. Their running game generates nothing. They're getting bad QB play and they have a group of WRs that just don't separate. Now, they face Houston next Monday night. They certainly look to me that they might be in a free fall.
How significant do you think losing center J.D. Walton for the season is for the Broncos? Do you like their chances against the Pats this Sunday, with a backup center (former Patriot Dan Koppen) going against Vince Wilfork?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
No, because I think the Pats righted the ship in Buffalo. If they can run the football like they did against the Bills, they can do anything they want. I think it will be a great battle between Peyton and Brady. You are right, when Manning loses his center, that's a big deal, because he depends on him to make a lot of the line calls and adjustments and to do that you have to be on the same page as Manning and that's not always easy.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Vikings are legitimate and will continue to lead/contend for the division title the entire season or eventually come back down to earth and finish toward the bottom of the division as predicted?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think the latter is probably true, although, I've watched a lot of film on them the last few weeks and I love how they're playing. I love the young QB Christian Ponder. They're ahead of schedule in the rebuilding process. Their offense will get better. But this is not a young team on defense. Eventually they will level out. Green Bay is clearly the class of the division. Although, I have to admit, you may be on to something, because Chicago and Detroit may not be as good as we expected. Maybe that gives the Vikings more of a chance.
I'm excited the Falcons are 4-0, but I also know they been here before only to lose in playoffs. Do you think the mentality with a new OC and DC makes this a better team come playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I really like what I have seen the first four weeks. I think the way they came back versus Carolina bodes well for the future. My biggest surprise about this team is how well they are playing on defense, which I don't think was expected. I sense that this is a little bit different Atlanta team and I think there's more maturity than in the past.
Austin (Sioux Falls)
Is the NFC right now is loaded as maybe you have ever seen it? To me there are 7 teams that could go to the Super Bowl. The 49ers, Packers, Eagles, Giants, Falcons, Cardinals, and maybe the Bears. The 49ers to me are the best team but the NFC postseason picture looks extremely exciting to me.
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Yeah, I probably agree with you. I think the last few years the power seemed to be in the AFC, but this NFC is not only talented but they're really physical. Teams that are tough and hard nosed and can play that way in January is really a big deal. Usually those types of teams do well in the playoffs.
Suburban Rhythm (Pittsburgh)
Gary, many in Pittsburgh are lameting the failure of the once vaunted Steelers defense. We've all heard they are too old, but how much of this isn't the age of the players, but the age (era) they are playing in. SF-NYJ games are more the outlier than the norm now. Teams like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New England, Green Bay, etc had very strong defenses for years, but with the way the game is played (and called, tilted towards offense), teams don't shut down the opponents anymore. More often, when a team wins a blowout, it's because their offense was unstoppable (NE - BUF).
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think the Steelers are built to be physical and stop the run and they're also at their best when they can harrass opposing QBs. When that pass rush doesn't work, they're not the same defense, because they're not a great cover team on the back end. When I watch them, they struggle against the spread offenses. Something I find interesting, and I need to watch more film to find out, I've had a number of scouts tell me they're more predictable than they have been in the past. You can have more success on them in the offensive game plan than in the past. That's an interesting observation, I just don't know if it's true or not.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, if you're Rex Ryan and coming off their 34-0 defeat to the 49ers, plus no Revis and perhaps no Santonio Holmes, what would you tell your struggling team???
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think that's a huge challenge. When I'm watching the Jets, I don't know that they can overcome those issues. I don't think there is anything they can hang their hat on. You would hope that they can run the football, control the clock and slow the game down, but you have no chance to do that, especially against a defense like Houston. You know that they can't consistently win with the passing game. And they're not close to being a big play defense that creates turnovers like we thought they would be at the beginning of the season. I don't know where the big plays come from on either side of the ball. I thought, as I watched on Sunday, there is a glaring lack of quality personnel more than I realized.
Do you think the AFC West is between the Chargers and Broncos and who do you think will win?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I don't know how you can go against Peyton Manning, based on the way he played yesterday. He is really starting to develop chemistry with his WRs. When that happens, he can carve up any defense. And his own defense is showing improvement. I like San Diego, but I still look at them as a little bit of a roller coaster team, who look really good one week and really bad the next. I probably would favor the Broncos to win this division.
Detroit has great talent on both sides of the ball but do you think they are lacking the discipline to build on last year's success?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
When I watched them yesterday, they just make too many unnecessary mistakes. They drop passes. They get penalized. They play horribly on special teams. Their defensive line does not dominate as they should. That exposes the secondary that's not very good. They don't look like a real focused team to me from week to week. Yet they have the potential to be explosive on both sides of the ball. There seems to be something missing with this team. They just don't seem to dig deep and feel a sense of urgency.
The Pats completely dominated Buffalo in the 2nd half, what happened to that Buffalo (very expensive) defensive line?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think that's the question we're all asking. They were dominated in the trenches by a Pats run game and a makeshift offensive line. When I watch the film, I see bad gap discipline, marginal tackling. They over pursue. What probably bothered me the most is that I don't think they played a lot of pride in the second half when the Pats started to pull away. They did not look to me like a defense that was totally embarrassed. I totally misevaluated this team, at least through the first four weeks.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I think as we look at tonight's game, this is a huge contest for both teams. They need a win to get them back on track. While I don't expect an overly explosive game, I think it will be critical for either of them to play a clean game and not make a lot of mistakes.