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!
Buzzmaster (4:03 PM)
Gary is here!
Hi Gary, lots of people are touting Cordarelle Patterson with Minny - what do you see as his potential this year
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think he's going to have a huge year, because Norv Turner knows how to coach elite guys. I know what he's doing right now is putting a package of plays together specifically for Patterson. One of their goals will be to move him all over the formation to get the right matchups. They didn't do that with the past coaches, but they'll do it now.
How much are coaches adjusting their systems during this down time? Or is everything ready to go for camp?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
They don't have any adjustments from now until camp. Everything is all set. Coaches go on vacation and they come back and to right to camp. For the most part, teams have their whole training camp regiment already set up.
Can you hear me? Is the Cardinal defense able to keep up the pace from last year or will their LB corps doom them to mediocrity?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think it's still a really good defense. I think they'll miss Washington a lot. But they'll probably go to more set packages with two LBs. I think their strength in the secondary in terms of playing man to man gives them a lot of flexibility. I don't know if they'll be quite as good as last year, but this will still be a team to watch.
cowboys...another year of 8-8?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think the offense has a chance to be really good. Tony Romo always gives you a chance. I think they'll score a lot of points. But if I were a Cowboys fan, I'd be very afraid of my defense. I love Rod Marinelli running the defense, but losing Sean Lee is critical. That guy has to cover the deep seams between the safeties and right now they don't have a guy that can do that. They might have to play a lot more man schemes. Their season might come down to their pass rush. The good news is this is a mediocre division right now. In my mind, only Philadelphia is a good team. Anything can happen. I know the Cowboys think they can be good enough to contend.
Rah-Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)
What type of season do you expect out of the Giants secondary? The starters look good at all 4 spots and they got some decent backups!
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think you're right. I think they will be better in the pass coverages. But, again, I'm concerned about their pass rush, which wasn't good enough a year ago. That puts pressure on the back end. The Giants are a tough team to evaluate. They have a lot of good parts that, if they come together, they can be pretty good. But if they don't mesh, they'll be a pretty mediocre team. I do know this: they really went out and attacked the offseason, so I think they realized they needed to change this team.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think Revis, at this point of his career gets by on instincts, rather than great cover skills. I think this coaching staff is so smart, they'll put him in place to succeed. When Browner comes back, this could be a good secondary.
How much of what a team learned about another team in the prior season be applied to the next year? For instance, do the Chargers have a chance to sneak closer to the Broncos this year or will the Broncos come out completely different this season?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I don't think there are many surprises in this league, unless there are players that nobody has ever seen or coaching staffs that nobody has ever seen. This league adjusts quickly. I don't think there are any surprises with teams, especially the Chargers and the Broncos. They know what to expect.
Rah-Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)
Any chance Eli has a return to glory with less star weapons than usual?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think there is a chance, because his receiving corps has a chance, if Beckham Jr. plays well early. I think their running game will be better. I think they will play some 3 receiver sets. But I wish they had a go-to TE. But remember, this is a different offense this year. It's a West Coast scheme. The ball comes out quickly. It means a lot less INTs. Eli appears to be really embracing the new system.
Andrew Jacob (Milan)
What do you expect outta that 49ers offense this season? Are they as loaded as they look? Will they play ball control O?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think they'll be terrific. They have unbelievable depth at RB. They have a solid OL. They now have enough WRs to spread the field. IT all comes down to Kaepernick. Can he advance to the next level as a pocket QB? I have more worries about the 49ers on defense than I have about their offense.
Ryan (los angeles)
do you think we'll see any more of the pistol? Seems like it disappeared?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
No, I think the pistol offense is gone, for the most part. I think the teams will use a little bit of the read-option, just to keep teams guessing. But all of the teams that ran the pistol will be more pocket QB guys, rather than guys that test the edges. I loved the scheme, but for some reason, it seemed like a lot of coaches felt like the defenses caught up to it and they didn't want to play it any more.
Andrew Jacob (Milan)
Should we be worried about Navarro Bowman as 49ers fans? No way he can be same player, right?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Well, it's a huge worry. That's a devastating injury. Then you add Aldon Smith to that, he could be suspended. That really hurts their LB group. Keep in mind, with Patrick Willis getting older -- he's actually missing some time now. Then you add that they lost three guys in the secondary. While they have good players to replace them, I think there are some question marks about this defense.
Which team do you expect to return to previous glory more, Atlanta or Pittsburgh? I expect both to improve dramatically this season. What Say You?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think Atlanta will be better, because I don't think they were as close to as bad as they looked a year ago. If healthy, they'll have a great passing game. Matt Ryan will put up a lot of points. On defense, they're young, but a lot of inexperienced players got the experience and that helped. I think Pittsburgh is in trouble. Their defense is old. They don't make game-changing plays like they used to. They don't have a lot of game-changing guys at WR and that's an improving division.
Bill Blast (INTHEMANCAVE)
Am I crazy for thinking Arizona could win this division with a little luck? They should be wayyyyy better on O this season. Lots of talent on D that might actually get better even with the loss of Washington. Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Arizona is probably the surprise team in the NFC, but they're also in the toughest division in football. I think they're a team full of confidence. They really believe in their system and they have a year in it. They have a lot of playmakers. I think they'll be really good. My guess is that both of the wild cards in the NFC will come from the NFC West.
Who do you think will follow Calvin in receptions for Detroit? THey are so loaded its hard to choose.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think they feel good about Golden Tate as a No. 2. But keep in mind they could play a lot of 2 TE packages, even a guy like Reggie Bush can line up as a WR in the slot. They have a lot of versatility in their passing game.
Do you think Jimmy Graham should be paid as a TE or WR? Why?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think they'll eventually get it figured out. I understand what he and his agent are doing. In today's NFL when you line up out wide and are in the slot, a lot of defenses treat you as a WR. I can understand the argument a little bit. They'll get it figured out.
how do you think Manziel's game adjusts to the NFL?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
You know, I'm just not sure. I love to watch him play. I do believe that he throws out of the pocket a lot better than people realize. But I just don't see him as a guy that can get through a 16-game schedule. Right now, without Josh Gordon, I'm not sure he has enough weapons. I think he's a huge question mark that can go either way as he progresses in this league.
adam (New york)
Whats your take on the Jets? They have a sneaky good receiver corp now Decker good pickup, Kerley healthy again, Nelson solid number 3, and lots of wild cards with Hill, Shaq, etc. and there defense you can only assume will be solid if not better with the front 7 and Rex at the helms...I think 9-10 wins isnt out of the question
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I thought they surprised a lot of people last year in going 8-8 with not very good talent. I think it all comes down to Geno Smith. They may have one of the best DLs in the league. I don't like their secondary. I don't think they have enough weapons in the passing game. I think to coach this team to 8-8 or 9-7 would be a great job. I just don't see them as an elite team.
Buzzmaster (4:37 PM)
Thanks for chatting Gary!