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!
How critical is it for the Giants to sign Victor Cruz to a long-term deal this offseason?
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
I think it's really critical. He is a playmaker on that offense. His QB believes in him. I think it would send a bad message on a lot of fronts if they didn't keep him after all of the success he's had.
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
They need his big play ability.
Now that David Garrard has retired is the Jet Qb position up for grabs and how short a leash is Rex Ryan on this season?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I happen to believe that the Jets were leaning to keeping Garrard as a backup to Geno Smith and parting ways with Mark Sanchez. It's really tough to predict. Unless they bring in another veteran, no matter how good Smith looks in preseason, I don't think they'll be comfortable getting rid of Sanchez with the other guys they have on the roster. As for Rex Ryan, he's probably on a very short leash. He has a new GM that has a clean slate and he's going to coach a roster that I look at on film and think it's one of the weakest in the NFL.
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
It's a real uphill climb, I think, as good as he is as a defensive coach.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - I have been very interested in seeing how Chip Kelly's offense could be adapted to the NFL and your article answerd most of my questions. Do the Eagles have enough depth and the right personnel to make it work or do you think they will have growing pains making it work?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think they are in much better shape to run this offense than a lot of people realize. You have to have an athletic offensive line that can block on the second level and they have that in Philly. They also have playmakers at WR and RB to run the types of plays they want to. And they now have the personnel for two tight end sets which will also confuse defenses. The pressure may come on the defense. When you run this high volume of plays on offense, if you're not moving the ball consistently and you have a lot of three and outs, you're putting your defense on the field for a lot of snaps. That's something that may be of concern. I expect the Eagles to be much more prepared to run this offense than people realize.
The Lions took Ziggy Ansah with the #5 pick. Is he as raw as alot of "experts" say and what do you expect from him in year one?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
The assistant coaches fell in love with him, not only as a potential player but also as a guy with high character. I think they feel good about his ability to develop. I also think this is a pretty good defensive line, although not as strong as they have been. He may be able to just come along in his rookie year as an edge pass rusher. Maybe they'll only need 25-30 snaps a game from him. But I know they believed strongly in his upside. When you look at his background, it's almost shocking how high he got and how quickly he did it.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Which Falcon rookie corner do you like better, Alford or Trufant?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
This is a defense that likes to be in sub packages fifty percent of the time and that requires a lot of quality corners. Getting those two was a big upgrade. They also did well in other areas this offseason. Getting Steven Jackson helps the run game. And let's not forget that getting Tony Gonzalez back for another year hugely impacts this team. Atlanta is a good team and they know how to fill their holes.
What do you think the Steelers will have to do to make it to the playoffs
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
On offense, they've got to figure out how to run the football. They need a healthy OL to help in the run game and protect Big Ben better. On defense, they have to hold it together one more year despite the age. Getting back to that dynamic edge pass rush is critical. When pressure doesn't get to the opposing QBs, they are exposed. They are a great organization but right on the edge of slipping a little bit.
Doues Brian Uhrlacher find a job?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Oh, I don't think there's any question he will. I don't think there's a huge hurry. He can learn whatever system he goes to in training camp. As long as he wants to play, he is a great addition to your lockerroom and to the younger players. I watched him on film from last year and he played better than I thought he did.
Who do you see as the favorites right now in the NFC East?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
You bring up a good issue. It really now looks like a division that's really close without a dominant team. I don't think they're nearly as strong as they were a few years ago. I probably like the Eagles the best right now, because I think they have a lot of pieces that fit Chip Kelly's offense, even though they have challenges on defense. But I don't think anyone will run away with this division. All four teams have holes, but they all have veterans who produce. I might go Philly, Dallas, Giants, Redskins.
Gary, Will QB Bradford of the Rams improve or will they be drafting a new QB next year?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think he's prepared to have a really nice year. They added some pieces on offense. They should be better on the OL. I think that Bradford will play at a higher level than he did a year ago. If they were forced to start over at QB, this Rams team would be in trouble. I like the direction they're going and they're going to be a good football team.
Stuart (Brooklyn, NY)
Who do you think has the better season McCoy, Lynch or Charles? Thansk Gary!
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think all three are poised to have solid years, because they all fit their offensive schemes. But I probably would favor Lynch, just because I really like that Seattle OL. But you could make a case for all three.
Do you expect Joe Flacco to have the same success in future years, even as they are rebuilding on offense now around him?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think he'll miss Anquan Boldin a lot more than people realize. He seemed to be the go-to guy when he had to have a play. But when you watch him on film, he really throws the deep ball well. He's getting better at reading defenses. He's the face of this franchise now and I think he's comfortable with it. I don't think the Ravens will take as big of a hit as we thought a couple of months ago.
Gary, Did the Rams do enough to catch the Seahawks and 49ers?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think they've improved and I think they'll be much more competitive, but so will the Seakhawks and 49ers, who I think are the best two teams in the NFC. I don't think they're at that level yet. But I think they've probably passed Arizona and I think they'll have more competitive games in 2013. When you watch Seattle and San Francisco on film, they're at a much different level than everyone else.
Who is your dark horse team that could surprise people?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think Kansas City is going to surprise a lot of people. They had productive players on almost every level. Right now, they'd be a team that jumps out. I also think Carolina will surprise a lot of people and rebound from a year ago. I keep looking for Detroit to settle down and finally be as good as they can be. But there are always a couple of teams that surprise us each year.
Do you expect Eli Manning to have a bounceback season?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I do, because he works so hard and he's such a competitor. But there are some concerns. He's playing behind an OL that I think is aging and could have some problems. I don't know that he has a great run game to rely on. And he must get back Victor Cruz. I don't think this passing game has a lot of overall depth.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Will Josh Cribbs make a splash for the Raiders in the return game?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Yeah, I think he can, because he still has some explosive moves. He won't have an overly heavy workload. I think he he has something to prove. It would not surprise me for him to have good production.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
They have certainly made an attempt to upgrade with a combination of free agency and the draft. I think they will be a lot better, but they will be a work in progress and the key will be how quickly they can all mesh together. One thing I think they will do is maybe shorten up the passing game instead of all of those deep seam routes that Rivers likes to throw, but also leads to a lot of hits. But they will be better than they were a year ago.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
The great thing I like about May and June, in terms of the NFL is there is enough time to watch film and really get a feel for trends and things you see during the season but don't have time to study it. I have especially enjoyed looking at the new coaches coming into the league and what to expect from their offensive and defensive systems. When you have the time to study that filmi, it really makes you feel better about heading into training camp.
Buzzmaster (4:29 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!