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, breaking 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)
If I was putting a label on Week 3, it would probably be "I Never Saw This Coming." Who would have guessed that Indy would go into San Francisco and punched the 49ers in the mouth and come away with a win. Who would have thought Cleveland would go into Minnesota after their rough week and get a win? Who would have thought that the Giants would look so listless in their loss to Carolina? And who would have thought that on paper, a much more talented team, Houston, was not even very competitive against Baltimore? I guess that shows us that any team can beat any other team in this leagu, with maybe the exception of Jacksonville.
Who do you think is the weakest 3-0 team (Patriots, Dolphins, Chiefs, Bears, Saints, Seahawks)?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I don't think any of them are weak, to be honest. I think they are all teams that will get better. I don't think their records are a fluke. The only thing I would say right now is some of them are not yet elite teams, but I would certainly not call them lucky. I think they all deserve this record. I see a lot of them as a work in progress, while they are winning, with maybe Seattle as the most complete team of them all.
How has the first 3 weeks changed your assessment of the Jets? Any higher on Geno?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I probably like the Jets a little more than I did earlier in the season. I do see some improvements from Geno Smith. He throws a nice deep ball. I like the fact that the coaches are letting him try to make some plays in the passing game, instead of dumbing down the offense. We always know this Rex Ryan defense will be competitive. But in all fairness, I still don't think this is a good football team. I believe that they're well coached enough to beat inferior opponents, stay close in some games. But I don't think they can line up on a weekly basis and be a contending team.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, Which is worst for the Giants right now, the offensive line which gave up 7 sacks or the defensive which gave Cam Newton an outstanding day and at this point how many wins will the Giants see in 2013?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think they're both equally responsible. Everything we have learned about the Giants over the years is they win with a strong physical run game and a defense with a pass rush. Neither of those things we are seeing. I don't know where the pass rush has gone. The lack of pressure exposes the back seven in coverage. This OL can't establish anything in the run game, which means defenses can tee off, knowing that Eli is the only guy that they can count on. After watching them, I'm not sure if these are things they can fix.
Pats still have A LOT of work to do, bu I'm seeing improvements every week. What do you think this team will look like come December?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think they're doing exactly what they need to do. Their young passing game is trying to improve and get on the same page. They're playing really good defense and they're running the ball well enough to stay in games. And, they are in a division that is not necessarily elite, so they have some time. Keep in mind, getting Gronk and Amendola back, plus these young WRs getting better, in a division that gives them a little bit of time to come along, this will be the same ol' strong playoff contender in the second half of the season.
The NFC East looks like its up for grabs. Who do you think will take the division?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
There's no question that Dallas is probably the favorite. They're doing what they promised us at the beginning of the season. A bend but don't break defense. Run the ball and be much more physical. That's exactly what they're doing. It takes pressure off of Tony Romo. When you look at the Giants, Eagles and Redskins, they all have serious problems. Maybe Philadelphia can turn it around quickly. But right now, the Cowboys are playing like they have an actual formula for winning that works.
Michael [via mobile]
So much for the Browns giving up. Josh Gordon's return was huge. Can the Browns build upon that win and get a division W at home against a mistake prone Cincinnati squad?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
In my opinion, Cincinnati has a lot more talent than Cleveland. This is a game they should win. But I was impressed with Cleveland's resilience. It looks like Hoyer has a chance to be good. They have some weapons on both sides of the ball. This is not a Browns team without good players. I just don't think they'll all of a sudden come to life and play as well as they did on Sunday.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - which of the 1-2 teams that were considered contenders look like they have a lot more work ahead of them?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
49ers, Packers, Eagles, Falcons. None of us expected them to all be in this situation right now. A lot of it has to do with schedule. But they all have the talent to turn it around. The only team that's a mystery, probably, is Philadelphia, because we just don't know who they are yet. But the other three shouldn't have a problem turning it around.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
So who were you most impressed by in CLE - Hoyer, Gordon or Cameron? Between last season and yesterday's game, Gordon looks like he could be a top 10 WR in this league...
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think all three were impressive. Cameron looks like a star in the making. I look back to the preseason when Gordon was suspended for two games. They thought they would really hurt them on offense because he's their most explosive player. His return gives them a legit home run threat. There are some good things to like about this team. I think if you ask the Cleveland coaches, they were not that surprised about Hoyer playing that well. This was a guy that they knew and a guy that they thought had starting potential in the league. It will be very interesting if they give him the rest of the starts to see if he can be their guy of the future.
How do you see the Saints next three games going? (vs. Dolphins, @Bears, @Patriots). Do you think they can make it to 6-0?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think all three games are going to be very competitive. Now, you're playing really good teams. I never worry about the Saints offense, because Drew Brees will always keep them in the game. But I am concerned a little bit about their lack of running game so far, which they promised. But I do like so far their defense under Rob Ryan. They are creating turnovers, they are making plays. They may be the most improved unit in the NFL over a year ago. They don't have to be great for the Saints to win, just adequate. The three teams you're talking about, Dolphins, Bears, Pats, are all teams that have issues that they are trying to solve while they are playing games. I think all three of these teams expect to get better as the season goes on. Maybe catching them early is a good thing.
I am not a believer in "moral victories" but, at the same time, not all losses are created equal. Considering it's not that surprising the Packers lost at SF and Cincy (playoff bound teams), as long as they can come out their bye relatively healthy and remain that way, do you still think they can contend come playoff time or are there other issues? I like what I see but know that any team that loses its three best defensive players, top three running backs and a weapon such as Finley wouldn't have much of a shot each week, no matter who is behind center. Thanks.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think Green Bay is still a good football team. They played two really good opponents that are probably headed for the playoffs. I do think they need to get the run game fixed, but that has a lot to do with health. I am worried about their defense. It just seems like if they aren't at the top of their game on offense, scoring a ton of points, they struggle. They just don't get a lot of help on defense. However, having said that, they've been to a Super Bowl with that philosophy and personnel. So, maybe they can get away with it.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - are we starting to see some team's D beginning to effectively defend the read option/hybrid/pistol offenses?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
The biggest thing that I've noticed in the first three weeks of the season is that offenses are not running the read option. That's a huge surprise to me. It seems like offensive coaches assumed defensive coaches would catch up. So, they decide not to use it. This is not the read option that we saw last year from SF or Seattle or Carolina. I'm at a loss as to why we're not seeing it, at least as a part of the attack. It puts so much pressure on the defense. Probably the team that's running it with consistency is the Eagles, but their offense is not the offense we saw from those teams a year ago.
which team has surprised you the most this year?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I was probably surprised the most yesterday when the Colts went into SF and played their physical style of football. We think of the Colts as a finesse team and the 49ers as the bully, but the opposite was true. It's a credit to the Colts' coaching staff and the players. Now, they have Trent Richardson. I think this win in the Bay Area will have far reaching effects on this Colts team and their confidence.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
I think tonight's Monday Night Football game is a little more intriguing than we think. But the only chance the Raiders have to stay competitive, in my mind, is to run the ball, control the clock and not play from behind. Pryor can not get into a high scoring game with Peyton Manning.
Buzzmaster (4:33 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!