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!
Buzzmaster (4:01 PM)
Gary is here!
Ed (Queens Village)
Was Geno Smith good game a by product of playing bad Raiders team?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I thought there were some positive things you could take away from that game. He only had one turnover. I thought their playcalling was more creative and gave him a chance to be an athlete, such as no-huddle, a little read option, a moving pocket. They also got WR Curley back. He is a guy that Smith can depend on in the slot. You are right, the Raiders aren't very good, but I thought that Smith at least looked semi-comfortable and not like the game was too big for him.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Did the game in Philly yesterday between the Lions and Eagles help or hurt the arguement for a Superbowl in colder climates?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
Oh, I think it hurts. Because I don't think there was any question that the level of play by a bunch of elite athletes was really compromised. This wasn't even close to the game that we would have seen on warmer field. I want to see these players at their best and we didn't see that in Philadelphia.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, the last couple minutes of the Vikings-Ravens game was, in my opinion, as exciting a finish as I can ever recall seeing. Do you remember any better "Fantastic Finishes" than in this game?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
No, I never have seen a finish like that either. I was captivated. I was taking notes while watching the Red Zone channel. It's amazing how much happened. Can you imagine the range of emotions you went through in those last few minutes if you're a player or coach? I came away Sunday thinking what a great game this is and how exciting games are every week. I like that.
RAYGORDONREID ( WILLIAMSBURG VA 23187)
QUESTIONTO GARY CAVEMAn horton 4.25 PM tonight boys or DA BEARS
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
The Cowboys have more difference makers, especially on offense and this has been a really struggling Bears defense. If Tony Romo plays a good game, I believe he will move the ball fairly easily on the Bears. In all honesty, this should be a big DeMarco Murray game, because the Bears are most vulnerable in their run defense. If weather is a factor, maybe Dallas will be forced to run the ball and change their gameplan, which I actually think could be playing to their strength. In my mind, right now, the Cowboys are the better team. But when you're in Dallas, that doesn't always translate to a win.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, With the Redskins getting blown out by the Chiefs, will Shanahan be with Washington next year and will he sit RGIII over last three games considering the beating he has taken over the last 5 weeks?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think that's a really tough decision for this coaching staff, sitting RGIII. On one hand, he's still a young QB and he needs all the reps he can get. But you're right, he's getting hit so much that you don't want to risk another injury. He really needs this offseason to develop his game, instead of rehabbing injuries, which I think is a huge part of the problem of what happened this year. I think it's something that the Redskins will certainaly consider. They could also feature Kirk Cousins as a potential trade guy, if he plays well the last 2-3 weeks. I just don't know what the right answer is. But it looks to me, that at least for this year, RGIII isn't going to play a lot better down the stretch, even though it's not all his fault.
What do you think of Gronks Injury? What will this do to the Pats playoff chances?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I don't think you can ever count the Pats out because of Brady and Belichick. They've survived losses before, but this one is devastating. Since Gronk's been back, he totally changed their offense, because of his ability to control the middle of the field and give the young guys outside single coverage matchups. Now, you don't have that and defenses can be more creative in their coverages. Unless Edelman and Amendola can somehow replace Gronk's catches inside, I think they're going to suffer. Although, you may see them run the ball more down the stretch. I think they're also going to use their backs for a lot more outlet passes like they did against Cleveland. They will stay competitive. I just don't know with this group of personnel if they can go to Denver and win an AFC championship.
Obviously still a lot of work to do but, if Rodgers gets back this week do you think Packers will take the NFC North?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I absolutely do and I think there will be a big discussion about him coming back. I've watched Detroit for the last month fool around and not put this division away. Even though Green Bay has not played very well, Rodgers changes all of that. If I were a Packers fan, I'd love to have a shot at going into at the Lions who continue to leave the door open.
Meanwhile, Josh Gordon is lighting up defenses at a record pace. All with multiple guys throwing him the football. How good is Josh Gordon?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think you hit it on the head. He's doing it without a legit QB. Not only is he posting big numbers, but he's making explosive plays. It's not like he has a bunch of Pro Bowlers around him to take coverage away. I would think that the Browns, as they look ahead to find a franchise QB, have a guy to build around in Gordon and their TE Jordan Cameron.
What a major step back for the Bills this week. EJ Manuel appears to be regressing, which is sad because he barely progressed. Have you seen anything from EJ to think he can be the QB of the future?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I've seen flashes of good play and what looks like it could be a good future. But I haven't seen enough. Yesterday, a lot of the problems had to do with pass protection. He was sacked a bunch and never had a chance to get into a flow. This Bills team is confusing. Just as you start to like them, they lay a huge egg and you don't know what to think. You always have to keep your eyes open these last few weeks. If a team is out of the playoff hunt, how hard are they playing?
FYI- over the last four weeks, the Packers and Vikings are tied atop the North at 1-2-1. Detroit and Chicago are 1-3 each. Not a very inspiring group. Is Schwartz done in Detroit barring a playoff run?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think probably this season that is a lot more realistic chance than in the past. Because, as you mentioned the division is not very strong. It seems like Green Bay and Chicago are trying to hand it to Detroit. But they just won't take it. I know the field conditions were bad yesterday, but the way that Philadelphia ran inside against this defense was an embarrassment. When you add that to the fact that they continue to turn the ball over every week, seven fumbles on Sunday, then you have a team that is probably too sloppy to win in January against an elite team unless they clean things up. For a long time, I have felt that the two biggest "tease" teams with really good talent are Cincinnati and Detroit. You want them to be so much better on a weekly basis than they are.
Do you think the Bears will re-sign Cutler? And do you think they should?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think that is a very, very tough decision. While everybody is a little enamored with Josh McCown right now, you have to keep in mind that he's a career backup. Asking him to play like Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford or another elite QB is unrealistic. But I also understand the dilemma of giving Cutler huge money when he probably hasn't performed yet up to what you will have to pay him. But I do know, in this league, I don't think you can win if you don't have an elite QB. Even though you probably will be much better off if we could see Cutler in the last three weeks, I would probably tend to re-sign him and take my chances that Marc Trestman can get him where he needs to go.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
P.S. Don't forget the franchise tag.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - Outside of Philly the better teams in the league have been very home filed dominant this year. Do you think there are any teams that will be able to go into Seattle or Denver come playoff time and have a real chance at winning - especially now that Gronk is out for NE?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I don't think anybody can go to Seattle and win, because of the mindset they have. I'm not sure anybody's going to New Orleans and beating Drew Brees and that passing game. I think winning in Denver is possible, if weather is a factor, because I don't think Denver has that much of an advantage, especially how much they throw the ball. And the same could be said about New England. I don't think any other of the home field advantages are close.
Do you think the Falcons are a 3-10 football team or did they basically throw in the towel after the Jets loss in week 5? Do you see them as super bowl contenders again next season or are they now officially in rebuild mode?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I know they're not a 3-10 team, because when I look at them, they have a lot of play makers. They have what should be a great passing game. They have the makings of a good run game and they have enough defensive players to be respectable. What really confuses me is I have a lot of respect for this coaching staff and they have a mature group of players, so I don't know why they're playing so badly. They have a lot of integrity, so you don't think they're throwing in the towels. I think Atlanta and Houston are just one-year aberrations.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I think it's great, especially when you're sitting in your living room, watching a Monday night game being played in a freezing climate in Chicago for a game that has playoff ramifications. But I think the best thing of all is that our colleague Mike Ditka has his number retired at halftime, though he probably wishes he could do it indoors. I've had the great pleasure of being with him for the last 15 years. There is none better and I know how beloved he is in Chicago. He may not always say it, but this is a special night for him. He loves that city and he loves that team. It's an honor, certainly well deserved.