Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" -- and Insider -- 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!
What are your thoughts on if the NFL is ready for Michael Sam?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think the players are ready and I would like to think we've made great progress in the last few years. But I don't think this is as easy a decision as everybody is trying to make it. I would like to think that most NFL teams would not be prejudiced and certainly we would like to think it would not impact Sam's draft status. But when in a draft room and looking at 2-3 players with an equal grade, some NFL teams would look at the circus that could surround taking this player and go another direction. What seems so strange is that the organizations and the players may be fine, but it could be the media that causes the distraction, because the reality is that whoever drafts Sam, that will be a huge story from Day 1, maybe even bigger than the guys they draft in the first round. I could see some organizations saying that for a guy drafted on the second or third day, we don't want that distraction. I hope that's not the case, but we could see some teams thinking that way. I hope that he is strictly based on his ability. For the most part, that's what teams will do. But we know this will be a huge media story between now and the draft.
Ed (Queens Village)
If you were GM of team walking into new situation would you do acquire veteran or draft QB in 1st round?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I would probably, if I'm in my first year as GM, and I could find a young QB to be the future of my organization, I would like to go that route. Having said that, a lot of GMs want a year to really evaluate the roster and the talent. That's why a veteran guy can bridge that gap. It really depends on your job security and how much time you have to build a team and how patient the ownership is.
Hey Gary, what do you make of the structure in Miami and can Tannehill be their franchise quarterback?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think he made solid improvements this year. I actually watched film today. He's really gotten better in their hurry up offense, which is really important for them. However, he no longer has Mike Sherman as his OC and there was a real comfort level there. Having said that, I think he's going to be better each year. He has to improve his decision making and his deep ball to become elite. But the problem at Miami is the terrible offensive line that has him scrambling every down. It also makes the run game a non factor.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
If they fix the OL, Miami has a chance to be a lot better.
Woody (Washington, DC)
From watching the film of the Super Bowl, did it look like that Richard Sherman and the Seattle DBs had stolen Manning's audible calls? Also, how often do defensive players steal audibles during regular season games?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I do not think that anybody, including Sherman, ever steals Manning's audible calls. I do think that Seattle had a great feel for the routes they were going to see. The biggest surprise I saw from the film is how quickly they diagnosed the routes and closed on the receivers. Denver is usually good with yards after catch, but that was nonexistent in this game. I think it was a case of defensive players reacting rather than stealing signals. Peyton is too smart for that.
How much of a chance do you think the Seahawks have of becoming the first repeat NFL champions in a decade?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think there is no question that they will be favored. They're a young team with a lot of confidence. They really don't have any negative factors that they are facing. However, they are in a very tough division that is getting better. It's never easy to repeat. But I think this team may be different because of their confidence.
Keith H (Seattle)
As the NFL is a copycat league and the Seahawks had the top defense, there is talk of how they are the "blueprint/" If it were that easy, wouldn't teams have huge corners, big & fast safeties, fast lb's, etc. If it were that easy, wouldn't more teams have such uniquely talented athletes?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think Pete Carroll does a great job of picking defensive players. Some teams want their corners to be smaller and fast, turn and run guys. But I love the Seahawks philosophy in the secondary with having great length and physicality. I think what's lost by a lot of people is that they may have the deepest DL rotation in the NFL. I Think this coaching staff has realized that they can dominate on defense. The thing that separates them that people don't talk a lot about is their depth on defense. This organization puts a lot of pride of making sure the bottom guys on this roster are contributors. That really shows up late in the season. A lot of teams will fall off from the 40-53 category, but not the Seahawks. They are constantly upgrading the last 10-15 guys.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, with the Vikings now cutting Erin Henderson, do you think linebacker and quarterback are their 2 primary needs for the offseason?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think they're both important needs. I think the fact that they drafted the QB position to be the backbone of this organization and now they might have to start over is a huge factor. Now, this defense is starting to show age. They have a lot of holes to replace. I'm sure they wish they didn't have to look at the QB position as closely as they will, because they really need to rebuild this defense.
Percy Harvin (Seattle, WA)
Garry, is all forgiven, with me being a virtual no show all year, after electrifying performance in the Super Bowl, which included breaking the Broncos back, and spirit, with my KO return?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
Oh, I don't think there's any question that Percy Harvin will thrive in this offense. It's just bad luck that he missed so much of this year. He's a dynamic player, much as he was in Minnesota. He's going to make Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch a better player. He's the player this offense needs. If he can stay healthy next season, this offense will rival the productivity of their defense.
Do you think Patriots have condition to resign all Edelman, Blount and Aqib? And what FAs Pats should take a look?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
That's a tough question. I would probably say Talib is the most important guy, because he's their only real dependable cover guy that has a chance to match up against the opposition's No. 1 WR. The Pats have three RBs, including Blount that can give them production. And, as good as Edelman was this year, they still have Amendola. I think Talib is almost irreplaceable.
Gary, do you think the Giants can bounce back from last year and finish 8-8 or better?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I am a real Tom Coughlin fan, so I hope that they will have a bounce back year, but I'm not that confident in it. Their OL is in shambles, which effects their run game and Eli. I don't think they have enough weapons in the passing game. That forces Eli to throw the ball up for grabs too much. I am baffled that their front four pass rush has basically become a non factor. I think this is a proud organization. I think they will have a plan, but I think personnel deficiencies right now are a real issue and can't be solved overnight.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - should teams with young QB's run faster paced, simpler offenses - would that help them eliminate mistakes and develop a little quicker?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think it depends on the QB. Running an uptempo offense also requires a QB to make quick decisions. Not all guys can do that. Although, this type of offense usually means that you are facing the same defensive personnel, which should help. Most of the guys coming out of the league now are comfortable with this no-huddle, uptempo attack. So, they probably fit in a lot more comfortably than they did in the past, because they've done it in college.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - how does the Seahawks defensive scheme compare against some of the other top flight D schemes being used in the league (Ravens, Panthers, SF, Jets, Texans) - is seems to be very intuitive and player friendly?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
The players love this defense, because they can be very aggressive and they can attack. But when you watch them on film, the versatility is very impressive. They can play those tight man to man schemes. But they can also play the zone concepts. The more you watch them the more you realize their versatility. When I watched Richard Sherman, I saw he was playing man on his side but they were playing zone on the other side. They play a lot of games up front. At the end of the day, players love the fact that they are constantly adjusting and trying to confuse offenses. The fact that this is a group of great athletes that are very smart, which is a big deal for Pete Carroll, that's why they're so successful. They can adjust to any scheme they need to play.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
While this is the time that a lot of fans take some time off after a great season, we are already jumping into free agency and early draft projections. I think it just reminds us that there is no time off any more in the NFL. This is a 12-month business and I'm sure that makes most of us happy.