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!
desmond (san jose) [via mobile]
I know its just pre season but you can't dismiss the 49ers look awful ! Ready to say the niners not the panthers are the NFC team to fall to the pack? Do you think the cards are ready to pass the niners up?
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
You have to be careful to not read too much into Sunday's game, though it had to be really disappointing to the 49ers. I think Arizona is on the rise and they'll create a lot of noise. But I think Harbaugh will get their attention this week. They're just not playing the way we're used to. This is a division that you have to have your 'A' game every week. I wouldn't push the panic button just yet, but I would increase the pressure on the players.
How concerned are you about the Jets' secondary at this point?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I'm very concerned about their secondary, because that's the key to a good Jets defense. They know they have a terrific front seven, at least in terms of run defense. But if they don't have a great pass rush, and I'm not sure they do, that will greatly expose them in those coverages. Will Rex be forced to blitz to get that pressure? Right now, if I'm an opposing offensive coach, my game plan is very simple, spread the field with multiple receivers and I throw a ton. I take the Jets deeper into their sub packages than they want to go.
Willy Russo (Shreveport,LA)
Cave, I'm concerned about the penalties. I'm a Who Dat! and I like our defense. Saints were roughed up by Seattle on defense but we looked pretty good last year too. Our defense was good in the back,(Bush, Vaccaro, Kee). Will the enforcement of secondary rules hurt us this year?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
Like a lot of teams, they were guilty of too many penalties. Teams are really having trouble on getting a handle on how tightly this will be called. I think a lot of people think the officials will ease up once we get to the regular season, but I don't know if that's the case. If I'm a Saints fan, I'd be more concerned about how sloppy and undisciplined they were. Jimmy Graham's two dunking penalties were unnecessary. Sean Payton and everyone else said he better get a handle on this team and get them focused. We're just seeing too many sloppy plays where there isn't enough attention to detail.
Big Steelers fan. Did you see the Bills/Steelers game? Preseason but Shazier really looked impressive. Your thoughts on what you've seen of him so far?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think the Steelers are doing what they want to do. They look younger and faster on defense, which is a good thing. Their run game is going to be good. Their biggest plus is Big Ben loves the freedom of running the no huddle. It looks to me like they are committed to letting him run it. They're not loaded and they don't have a huge margin for error, but they are in a division where they can really be competitive.
Do you think the Dolphins are the 2nd best team in the AFC East? Do you think they have a chance to challenge the Pats, they split with them last year.
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I don't think any team in the AFC East can come close to challenging the Patriots. Not to say that New England can't be beaten on any Sunday. I put the Jets, Dolphins, Bills in the same category -- teams looking to build, but they're not there. Any of those teams that can go 8-8, that's a good year for them.
Rah-Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)
As a NYG fan, should I be worried?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Absolutely. I know we've only had a training camp and two preseason games, but this offense really looks like it may struggle. The passing game doesn't look crisp. There is no flow to it. This defense can't carry this team. There's no great pass rush to help the secondary. There's no OL and run game to give them balance. If we don't see major improvement this week, it will be time to really be concerned. What would bother me the most as a Giants fan, I haven't seen any glimpses of any positive plays. And we should by now.
Buck0 cali [via mobile]
How bright is clowneys future?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
Right now it looks good. He appears to easily beat OTs if he's blocked one on one. He makes explosive plays. I think the coaches are figuring him out. While he will drop into coverage some, that's not his primary role. This guy is an upfield, edge rusher. That's what they'll have him doing the majority of the time. I think his play has been exciting so far.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I've seen a couple of times when they line him up next to JJ Watt, on the same side, how would you like to have to block those two?
Any chance Peyton Manning puts up close to the statistics he put up last season? Is it possible Seattle provided a blueprint, or is defending them a lost cause?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think he'll put up great numbers. This offense is so well tuned and has great balance. The difference for the Broncos is they'll be better on defense. They won't be as easily intimidated as a year ago. The Seahawks are going to give any offense trouble, because of how physical they are and how well they cover. It may be that these new contact rules will level the playing field a little bit. That could be in the favor of Denver.
Logan Cox (Latham,NY)
Do you think the Cowboys are good this year?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
No, I think the Cowboys are headed the opposite direction. When I look at them, I don't see how they're going to have a successful season. Their lack of a pass rush, bad secondary play won't be good enough to offset an offense that has a chance to put up really good numbers. And, can Tony Romo stay healthy for 16 games?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
The only positive for Dallas is that maybe this division, except Philadelphia, isn't as good as the past. And that could give them a chance. I think they're looking at a very challenging season.
Bill Blast (SanDiego)
Do you think the Chargers will build off of last season? Its so hard to trend upwards for multiple seasons in a row, just wondering whats your opinion.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I love the way they played last year. I thought Rivers was terrific. But they also got every break they needed down the stretch of the season. You're asking a lot for that to happen again. I'm concerned about their secondary, because they're young. I think the Chiefs will take a step back, which gives them a chance to compete with Denver for a playoff spot.
Brandon (Mattoon, IL)
From what you have seen from the Bears D has it improved even a little bit? I haven't seen much to make me think they will be any better than last year. Thanks goodness for that offense! Thanks!
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think they have improved. They need to tackle better, obviously. But they really upgraded their DL, which means they should be better against the run. They should have a decent pass rush. They're good at CB, but their safety play is a huge question. With the offense that they have, this defense doesn't have to be great, just middle of the road.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Will the Raiders be lucky to win 5 games this year?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
This is a roll of the dice year for the Raiders. They have a lot of veteran, aging players who are at the end of their careers. I think this organization are counting on a lot of those guys to have enough left in the tank to get them another year. But you just don't know. I don't think they've looked great in the preseason, starting with Matt Schaub. Their identity right now is probably a run game that can control the clock. I just don't know if they have enough difference makers. They look like the 3rd or 4th team in that division. But if their older guys come together, they could surprise some people.
What do you think about the Rams offense this year? They seem to be starting slow this preseason.
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
Yeah, I think they have a chance to be pretty good. Their OL has developed into a solid group. The whole key is for Sam Bradford to stay healthy and get a lot of reps. They'll have good balance on offense. Their defense should dominate and create a lot of turnovers. From what I have seen on film, this is a young team on the rise that you have to be concerned about. Although, they are playing in the toughest division.
Bc so, cal [via mobile]
Will johnny football be an elite qb?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think he's still a work in progress. We're going to see good plays and bad plays. He's trending upward. I do not think that he will beat Hoyer out for the starting job in Week 1. If there is a dramatic difference between the two tonight, which would change who starts in Week 3, then that's a change worth noting, because the starter next week tells you who they think will be the starter in Week 1.
Caveman, whats going on with Nic Fairley? I heard he is 2nd team now. At the beginning of camp all the talk was he was in his best shape ever, could he need a change of scenery?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
It sure sounds like he's fallen out of favor of the coach. I've heard positives and negatives about this defense all preseason. I've heard they're playing hard and in shape. I've heard that they've had lapses in play. Fairley has probably just been inconsistent and they're trying to send him a message. But something is going on there, more than meets the eye.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary - Giants are 3-0 in the preseason but Eli Manning's numbers haven't been impressive in Ben McAdoo's West Coast system, with the Jets & Patriots up in the next two weeks, will Eli be ready for the Lions in Week One?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
He's a Manning. He's a smart QB. He seemed re-energized with a new offense. But the results so far, haven't shown that. The passing game looks horrible. There is no flow to it. We don't even really see glimpses of progress that makes us feel good. I think there is something to be concerned about. That makes this week really, really important. The reality of it is that Week 4 of the preseason, you'd prefer to sit most of your veterans. But if they are not dramatically better this week, they may have to change that and play their starters a lot longer. They do not want to go into the season the way they are now.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
As most NFL fans know, this is the week to really pay close attention to your team. This is as close as you'll get to a Week 1 game. Obviously, the coaches hope that they can see enough this week to use Week 4 as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. If you want to have a really good feel for your team, the game they play this weekend should let you know that.