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!
Hi Gary, do you think that Eli Manning will bounce back this year?
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I do think it will be a much better year. I'm not sure that he has elite weapons around him, but I think the new offensive scheme will really help him. It's a shorter passing game, high percentage, ball out quick, which means that he will likely take a lot less hits than he did a year ago. I think his numbers will probably really be good and his interceptions should be down dramatically. But, I don't know if that makes them a playoff team again.
HI Gary, which QB do you trust more in fantasy Kap or RG3 . thanks
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I would probably trust Colin Kaepernick more. He's a little more battle tested in games. Both guys can run out of trouble if they have to and both have really improved playmakers around him. But I'll probably trust Kaepernick just because I feel like he has a little more experience under his belt, at least today I feel that way.
Derrick (Garden City)
Hi Gary, Phillip Rivers had a great year last year after some down years. Will he keep it up?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
No, I think he will absolutely keep it up. He's a guy with great skills and a great mind. He really adjusted well to a shorter passing game. Just like with Eli this year, a get it out quick philosophy, his completion percentage really went up and it really helped them eat up the clock. Rivers has good weapons this year. I think this offense will put up some really nice numbers. I think you'll see Rivers really have a great 3-4 year run as he gets in the twilight of his NFL career.
How to you think Lesean Mccoy and Darren Sproles compliment each other in actual games, and in fantasy terms
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think it will be one of the most dynamic and fun things to watch in the NFL. Both of these guys can catch the ball. We know McCoy can run it. The challenge for defenses is how are they going to cover these guys, especially if they're in the lineup at the same time. You hope to not have to cover them with a LB. If you try to do it with the DB, it opens up the other guys. Remember, not only do they have guys on the outside, they can give you productive 2 TE sets in the passing game. There is a lot to stop in this offense. I thought when they picked up Sproles that it might be the best free agent pick up in the offseason.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
One other thing comes to mind, both of these guys are great on screen passes, whether it be regular or bubble. I think that will be something to watch with this offense.
Will Jamaal Charles still be a stud RB this season or is the Chiefs OL too much of a mess?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
On the one hand, he has to be, because I'm not sure he has a lot of weapons in the passing game to be dynamic. We know he can run the ball, catch the screen pass, but I think you're right, this is not the same OL that it was a year ago. I'm really surprised that this organization didn't attack this OL more in the offseason. If this team does take a step back, it's because this OL let them down.
Anthony (Andover, MA)
Along with Gronk's health, I feel a key to the Patriots offense will be the health of Aaron Dobson. Do you agree we need that tall, deep threat to make other parts more effective?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Absolutely. They haven't had that kind of guy since Randy Moss. They have a lot of other pieces with two slot type of WRs. Certainly Gronk can dominate in the middle of the field, but they need that one vertical guy that can change coverages and open things up.
Do you feel that the preseason is too long?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I go back and forth on that. Teams do a good job of making the practice time before the preseason games less physical with not as many padded practice times and hitting, so guys can stay fresh. While I do think having four preseason games can give you a chance to evaluate your players, there is also a part of it where you say they're together so much in the offseason, the coaches know the roster and who will make it before camp ever starts. I wonder if two preseason games, and maybe a couple of scrimmages or joint practices with other teams, might be enough. We know that right now Games 1 and 2 are mostly about looking at the players on the fringe of your roster. Game 3 is a warm up for the beginning of the season and the closest thing to a real game and Game 4 is basically a throw away, that you're just trying to get through.
Anthony (Andover, MA)
Gary, I'm wondering what your take is on having an NFL team in London some year. My take is that this is the "National" Football League, and I'm wondering why the NFL would contemplate something that would be such a logistical nightmare.
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Obviously, they think that the European market could really open up the NFL to another part of the world. But I agree with you from a travel stand point that would really be tough. But I'm sure they have done their studies and there is probably a lot of data that favors having a team over there. How can you have a team in London and not one in LA?
Candy (Slippery Rock)
Gary, do you consider Demaryius Thomas an elite wide receiver or does he mostly benefit from having Peyton throw him the ball?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
The answer is yes and yes. I think he's an elite WR that has tremendous big play ability, but he's also playing with a Hall of Fame QB, who knows how to get him the ball and, in all honesty, this passing game was so good a year ago at spreading the field, that it was really tough to double team him. That's what they're hoping they get from Emmanuel Sanders what they got from Eric Decker. Remember, they also treat TE Julius Thomas almost like a WR.
Who has the best wide out duo in the league?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
Right now, I like Chicago, with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. They're both big guys that can elevate and get deep. You have to like Atlanta's duo of White and Jones, when they're healthy. Let's go ahead and add Denver, if Sanders gives them what they think he will.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I also see a lot of teams having one elite WR and then their second elite target is either a TE or a RB, which I think is an interesting trend.
What do you give the Rams chances in the division this year? Playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
The problem is, they could show tremendous improvement, which I think they will, but I don't think that will translate into wins. This is the best division in football right now. I love their defensive front seven. They have a balance on offense. But you're playing against three elite defenses in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona. These teams will beat each other up. As much as I like Arizona and St. Louis, I don't think there is room for more than Seattle and San Francisco in the playoffs. You never know if Sam Bradford can stay healthy. But this is a team that's absolutely headed in the right direction.
Joe Joe (Chicago)
How do you think the NFC North will shake out this year?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think it probably comes down to Chicago and Green Bay, with Detroit being more consistent than they were last year, but not a playoff team. Minnesota will take a couple of years to catch up. Both the Bears and Packers will make the playoffs, but it probably comes down to which team can play some defense that dictates how far they will go. We know the offenses will be great, but this is a better division than people give it credit for.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
The quality of the Thursday night games last year was poor. Why did the NFL expand the schedule? Our they that greedy? The product is suffering.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Obviously another night, financially, makes sense due to the popularity of the game. It doesn't really interfere with college and high school games. I think there are two sides to it. While you have a short work week after a Sunday game, if you don't have a huge travel situation, it's not too bad. Organizations really know how to double game plan. I know that a lot of coaches and players like the fact that when they play a Thursday game, they have 10 days off, which is almost like a bye week. That could really be a welcomed situation when you're tired as the season goes along.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I can't wait to have a real game this weekend, with the Hall of Fame. It really looks like a lot of these teams are really clicking early. I think it's a tribute to how well organized they are in the offseason. That makes for a better product once we get on the field in September.