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!
Ed (Queens Village)
Is Andy Dalton worth $115 million?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I go back and forth on that one. Probably my most honest answer is no, yet I don't know what the alternatives are. This is a veteran team that should make a playoff run. But you can't do that if you're starting over at the QB position and making changes. Ironically, this is really a key year for Dalton. He has every weapon he needs to be successful. He could actually have more worth at the end of the season if he plays up to a high level. But if he doesn't and this team stumbles and they don't make the playoffs, then a lot of people will say paying him was a mistake. But this organization, for better or worse, is committed to him.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - are we beginning to see defenses using more versatile players in the secondary and linebacking corps versus situational players in order to combat the offensive firepower that seems to be growing each season?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think you're exactly right. Coaches are looking for versatile guys because of substitutions. These offenses try to get you in bad matchups. When you're a three-down player and don't have to come out of the game, it gives defenses flexibility. We're seeing two-down players almost start to be phased out of the game.
Factoring in age, which one RB would you start a franchise with today?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I would have to take a long, hard look at LeSean McCoy because of the dual threat that he is in the passing game. But I also love Jamal Charles and AD. Charles is especially intriguing because of his ability in the screen game. I do think we're seeing a decrease in the value of backs in today's NFL. I think we're in an era where we're not going to see a lot of work horse backs. The running game really supplements the passing game. For example, a guy like AD, as great as he is, a year from now when he wants a new contract, he may not be worth that to the franchise, because of how he is used.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary - Watched the Giants - Bills last night and was impressed with Andre Williams, 7 carries for 48 yards & Eli Manning completed 6 of 7 passes, did anyOne impress you during this game to watch during the season?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I thought the game went according to what I expected. This is a shorter, and safer, Giants passing game. That's what happened, dump offs to backs. They had a power run game. I was impressed with Williams. But all of their backs, really. Hynoski really impressed me at FB, as a lead blocker.
Hi Gary, do you think that Cam Newton can carry a very suspect looking Carolina offense?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I'm a little bit concerned, because I just don't know what he's going to have available to him in the passing game. I think the keys to this team's success is running the football and let Cam pick his spots for big offensive plays and depend on that great front seven on defense to control the game. But I'm not sure that the Panthers will be as successful as they were a year ago. In my mind, they could go either way.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - I don't remember a Jets team so tied into how their QB plays as this season - they can be anywhere from 3/4 wins to 10/11 wins depending on how Geno Smith develops.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think you're probably right. But if Smith really falters, I have more faith in Michael Vick than a lot of people probably do. Their keys to success are clear. They must be able to run the ball. They must develop better passing options, which was horrible a year ago. And Smith must eliminate key turnovers. However, I'm also concerned about defense. So far, in training camp, as good as their front seven is, their secondary has struggled, which is usually strong in a Rex Ryan defense. The good thing for the Jets is that the Patriots will run away with the division, but the other three teams will all battle each other and have similar records. That's why we're probably looking at an 8-8 record.
Derek (work) [via mobile]
Gary, Chip Kelly showed last year he obviously is a special coach. I'm glad that most people are tempering their expectations from getting too high, but do you think there's a pretty good chance of the Eagles making more history this year?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I fully expect them to be a really good team. First, I don't think the NFC East will be very good. I love all of the weapons on offense, along with their uptempo approach. I just don't know how the defenses will matchup against them. Their success will come down to how well they play on defense. They have been very aggressive in their offseason moves. They feel like they are improved. As good as this offense is, it only really requires a defense that's a middle of the road unit. Can they go from one of the worst defenses to middle of the pack? If they can, then they can make a deep playoff run.
Derrick (Garden City)
Hey Gary, do you consider Matt Ryan an elite quarterback and do you think he will play better this year?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I do. I do think he'll play better this year. His weapons will be healthy. When you don't have Roddy White and Julio Jones, it's going to put a big dent in your QB play. I think they'll have a bounce back year. It will really help them if they have a pass catching TE and a running game they can count on. Both of those are areas of concern. But I don't think that Atlanta team we saw struggle a year ago will continue to stumble. I think they'll be back right in the thick of things.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, regarding last night's Hall of Fame Game, I noticed that E.J. Manuel had a few passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage. Do you think this may be a concern for the Bills this season?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think that is something they have to clean up. It appeared to me that the batted down passes and near interceptions look like a result of not recognizing where the defender was. That's critical in his development -- to read the defense and coverage and make a safe throw. I thought several of his throws were ill-advised. However, I will say this, the Giants, especially their DL, have always done a nice job of getting their hands up to defend passes.
If the packers defense can become top 15 in the league, is that good enough to get them to the superbowl this year?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think you're exactly right. There are several teams in that category that have dynamic offenses that are good enough if their defense is just average. You mention Green Bay, but we could probably mention the same thing for Denver, New England, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia. The impressive thing about Green Bay this year is that they have balance and a real run game. Something they have not had consistently for a long time. The offense will take care of itself. Defensively, for several years it seems they've had to trick offenses with exotic schemes. They can get caught in some bad personnel packages. I think they will be improved from a year ago, but I don't know how much. I am a little concerned about their secondary and how it will hold up.
The Redskins defense has talked all camp about how they will be unleashed in thsi new regime. I saw a stat that said Orakpo and Kerrigan rushed the passer about half as much as their contemporaries. Do you expect Haslett to get after the QB more this year?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Depending on who you listen to...I've been told that he had to coach a very conservative game plan a year ago, because that's what Mike Shanahan wanted and he was not able to blitz and attack like he preferred to. If that is the truth, then I think you can expect more big plays and turnovers, because Haslett by nature is a very aggressive defensive coach. However, the gamble with that, and the personnel that he has, if you don't get to the QB, you expose the secondary in coverage that is not very good and gives up way too many big plays. I think they'll be a little better with more positive results than a year ago, but I don't think they're close yet to being a good defense.
Battlecat la, ca [via mobile]
What is manzeils future?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I would not read too much into Manziel taking first-team snaps. I'm sure the coaches wanted to get a good look at him on how he handled the huddle with the starters. It's still early in camp. I think they want to see how the chemistry works with both QBs. If it were late in the preseason, it might mean more, but right now, I think this will probably be an ongoing thing for the first 2-3 preseason games, when both of these guys will get their shots.
early predicition for Green Bay vs. Seattle? I think GB will be tougher than most think
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
It will be a game that pits strength versus strength in Green Bay's offense against Seattle's defense. There is a lot of pride on both teams. There are playmakers on both teams. For Green Bay, especially, it will be a great indication of where they're at, but winning in Seattle is not an easy thing. It's a great game to kick off the regular season. But I don't think either team is necessarily in trouble if they lose it. What I would be somewhat interested in is, I think Seattle is cocky and confident, and if someone were to come in and beat them, like the Packers, that could be a huge wake-up call, because I don't think they would expect it. But it will be fun to watch.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
As we all know, Week 1 in the preseason will not see a lot of key snaps by veteran players. but it's a good chance to look at the young guys and fringe guys, because almost all of their play time will come in the first two weeks. In Week 3, it dramatically changes. These are good games to watch, if you're evaluating the bottom end of your roster.