Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:01 PM)
Gary is here!
Jack k (Rochester,ny)
Odds of teams like the Browns or Raiders or Bills being able to rebuild into a successful team
Gary Horton (3:04 PM)
I think you have to look at each team individually and see what the quality of each roster is. In the case of the Bills and Browns, they have some really good players on those rosters, so they have a chance to win fairly quickly, if they can get stability at the QB position. But both of those teams have really good defensive players to build around, so that's a start. With the Raiders, it will take longer because they're just now getting out of their salary cap problems. If this were baseball, they'd be a AAA roster. They have major problems in terms of depth and playmakers and they have major questions at QB. This would probably be their best offseason in a while, but they have a long ways to go.
Gary Horton (3:05 PM)
It's always interesting to look at teams like Atlanta and Houston, whom we assume had a one year aberration. We probably expect both of them to be competitive.
Hey Gary, does Joe Philbin make it past this year as head coach?
Gary Horton (3:08 PM)
Based on everything we've heard, he'll probably get through this year, but he'll be under a microscope. The organization will look very closely at how hard these guys play for him and how he handles challenging situations. There will be accountability for everything that goes on this season. Not being aware of it will not be an excuse. And while this is a pretty good football team, they spent a lot of money last offseason and they did not get their return that they expected. Now, they're in a situation where they may have the worst OL in football with a major rebuilding job to do. Even though this is a pretty good roster, they have some challenges ahead of them.
Could you see NFL teams start to shy away from big money QBs, it seems that once a team goes deep in the playoffs or win the superbowl the teams then have to pay big (eli, flacco, rodgers, eli, brees) but after they get paid they all get knocked out early or dont even make the playoffs becasue teams with cheaper qbs the 49ers, colts, seahwaks and panthers are ahead of them. Could you see teams preferring to have just a "game manager" qb and build elite talent around the defense and other parts?
Gary Horton (3:11 PM)
That's a valid question, but you have to look at their surrounding cast. These are all very good QBs, but when you win a Super Bowl, it's hard to keep your good players. They all want to cash in. The QB may play at the same level, but not have the same weapons. I don't think I've ever seen a quality QB not give a good effort after winning the Super Bowl, no matter how much money he's making. In the case of Eli, he had marginal offensive weapons and he tried to force everything himself and that led to all of his mistakes. I don't think he would have pressed if he had the same weapons in the past. The same holds true for Joe Flacco. These QBs are perceived as being able to carry the offense and these guys try to live up to that, without the weapons around them.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, what do you think is the best way for the Vikings to rebuild their defense? Their pass defense was especially abysmal last year.
Gary Horton (3:13 PM)
It's not going to be easy, because they are a football team that got old, but they kept on trying to hang on with their roster because they felt they had a small window. But now they don't. They had problems on all three levels of defense. They have problems at WR and now they have to fix the QB position. They have a lot of needs and I think they're faced with a rebuilding task, not just re-tooling.
Roger (Laguna Beach)
Gary, if the Bears can put together a decent defense, how far do you think they can go with the offensive weapons they have on that roster? Thanks!
Gary Horton (3:15 PM)
I think they can go very far. I look at the Bears a lot like the Saints. As good as the offensive weapons they both have, we know they'll post good numbers on a weekly basis. The defenses don't have to be elite, but they have to be middle of the pack. They have to be good at creating turnovers and giving the ball back to the offense, which also means they have to get off the field on third down. The Bears have some guys to build around. They know exactly what their problems are. They have the good offense, so they can focus on the defense.
If I were the Jets, rather than spend money on free agents(most also do not work out) I would contunue to build through the draft. With the compensatory picks from last year they should have 10-13 picks and should be in position to get the WR and other playmakers on offense that they need. Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (3:17 PM)
I think they will probably try to build through the draft. But I think they feel they have to get some help through free agency, especially at WR. I don't think they can go into next season counting on rookies on offense, either in the passing or running games, so I would look for them to address WR or RB in free agency and give Geno Smith immediate weapons to build around.
Gary Horton (3:18 PM)
Let me also add another thought on the Jets. Even though Rex Ryan has a new contract, we all know that he is under a lot of pressure to turn this thing around this year. The heat will be on again if they don't. When a coach feels that kind of heat, he's obviously looking for quicker fixes than waiting for draft picks to develop. But he also has a GM who has probably better security and feels like he has time to build through the draft. It's an interesting dynamic to see how they approach this.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Everyone assumes that Eric Decker will get paid like a #1 WR, but he made recent comments about money not being everything. COuld it kind of be like last year when everyone assumed James Jones would get paid a ton but when the dust settled, he was back with his team?
Gary Horton (3:21 PM)
I think the Decker situation is fascinating, because it will be intersting to see if any NFL team sees him as a No. 1 guy and they will pay him accordingly. I think he's a great No. 2 WR, which would be reflected in his new contract. He couldn't be in a better situation in Denver with Peyton. I don't think it's about the money. I don't think teams will be able to match No. 1 money. To me this is maybe the most interesting free agency situation to watch.
going off your answer of the question about big money qbs, eli and flacco would be able to have better weapons if they werent being paid so much, if the seahawks or 49ers had to pay rodgers or brees salaries, much of their defense and playmakers would be gone, what else could those teams do if they dont have money? thanks gary
Gary Horton (3:23 PM)
You just absolutely named the real problem. When a QB plays at an elite level, he gets paid. The money has to come from somewhere. You don't have the ability to pay everybody. Unless the QB goes back to the table and later renegotiates to free up some salary cap room. For example, a team like the Detroit Lions has a huge portion of their cap tied up in Stafford, Megatron and Suh. That really hurts their ability to spread out the money to other players. If you become top heavy in this league, it's really hard to pay your other players. You can't really blame the QB, because he's earned the big salary. It's a tough situation in today's NFL to manage the cap and keep everyone on the roster happy.
What happened in Cleveland FO?
Gary Horton (3:26 PM)
I think they think they fixed it. But I just think the management that they had, who were smart football guys, somehow lost the trust of the owner and, at least on paper, it looks like they really struggled in their head coaching hire. So, I think the owner probably got a lot of people in his ear saying you have to make a change. The media was really tough on the organization. The problem still is that you still have a GM who didn't hire the head coach. It's still something to watch -- how they all get along, who has the power and if the owner finally has a handle on the organization.
What to do with Vince Wilfork?
Gary Horton (3:27 PM)
I would do whatever it takes to re-sign him. I think he is a major factor in their interior run defense. His leadership is really underrated. This is not the same defense when they don't have him. This is a guy you have to pay, even though he's getting older. He has solid years left. You can build this run defense around him.
Gary Horton (3:28 PM)
There are certain guys that sometimes you have to let go in free agency. Wilfork is not one of those guys.
Why haven't heads rolled in Miami, post Wells Report?
Gary Horton (3:29 PM)
What I have heard is that Miami is waiting for the NFL to make decisions in terms of suspensions, penalties, etc. So, I don't think they're going to pull the trigger on it until the NFL does. They might let the league be the deciding factor in what they do. Changes are coming.
Gary Horton (3:31 PM)
If you're a real football junkie then you have to be excited for the NFL combine coming up. I never thought I would see the day where this gets such publicity and such coverage. It's a far cry from when I first started scouting in the NFL back in the early 80s. But it just shows you how popular this game is with the fans.
Buzzmaster (3:33 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!