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 4 p.m. ET!
terri (at my desk in central Valley California)
Your thoughts on Fresno States QB Derrick Carr starting on Sunday for THE Oakland Raiders
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
I think it's a real positive sign. I watched some film on him today and he's really poised in the pocket. He seems to see the entire field. He plays with confidence. That's something that Matt Schaub has not shown in the preseason, for some reason. He has just not been a confident guy. That's sad, because I'd like to see Matt turn it around. But in all likelihood, this is a team that's not going very far, so let's see what the young guy can do. And it might give everyone in the organization something to be excited for for the future.
Bucking Bronco (Denver, CO)
With the brutal schedule, loss of Decker and now a huge concern over Welker, do you believe the Broncos have enough superior talent to keep them in the AFC champion discussion? THANKS Caveman
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I absolutely do. Welker's health isn't a sure thing, with or without the suspension. They have a lot of weapons in the passing game and they can survive his loss. It's unfortunate, but like Peyton always does, he'll find a guy to throw to and they'll be creative with their formations.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
The unfortunate thing is that this ruling came down so close to their opener, so they haven't had a lot of time to make adjustments.
Ok We do have a rookie QB starting week 1. How bad does that show Matt Schaub really is?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
It's not only inconsistent play, but Schaub is not 100% healthy and he's had a nagging injury the last couple of weeks, which has hurt his practice time. But I think the coaches had to be very concerned that this was his job and he didn't just take it and play with that confidence that they expected. I'm not sure why. I just don't think they ever looked fluid.
Willy Russo (Shreveport, LA)
Sir Cave, have you heard anything about Champ going into coaching if he is doesn't find another job on the grass? I sure wanted him to win a SB with the Saints!
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I have not heard that. My guess is that he'd be an excellent coach because he's a student of the game. I've been told that he still wants to play. He's not ready to retire. I think somebody's going to pick him up. He can still play in your sub packages, maybe inside where he doesn't have to run as fast. He's so intelligent that he could help mentor a young secondary. In today's NFL, you could never have enough corners.
Gary - With the receiving weapons added by the 49ers and Kaepernick another year of experience, do you see the team opening up the offense or still pounding with the running game?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think they'll definitely open up the offense, because of all the weapons they have. I think they believe that more passing forces defenses to think about sub packages. That's when their run game can become even more effective. The only problem I have is that I don't think Kap has looked good in the pocket in the preseason. This offense just doesn't look like it has a flow to me, mainly with the passing game. Hopefully that will change when we get into real game plans. He needs to step up his game to take advantage of the weapons.
Jeff cali [via mobile]
Will m sam be a good fit with dallas? i think he is a player.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
He is probably a fit because they are so bad on defense. They are just looking for anybody to contribute. I suppose he fits because they run a 4-3 defense and he can put his hand in the dirt as an edge rusher and he might be able to contribute in sub packages. I thought he played well in the preseason with St. Louis as a pass rusher. Any explosiveness at all to the pass rush, where I don't see playmakers, will be welcome. I also believe that Sam's experience at St. Louis has probably really boosted his confidence that he can play in this league.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, with the suspension of Aldon Smith and the domestic violence charge against McDonald, may the 49ers be in some trouble, at least to start the season?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I would be concerned. They had significant losses in their secondary a year ago because of free agency. But they don't have Bowman at ILB. Their DL rotation isn't quite as deep as it was. You mention Aldon Smith and McDonald. And let's also wonder how much longer can Justin Smith play at an elite level? This is still an outstanding team. They're a good defense. The margin for error is not as good as a year ago. If they suffer injuries, they could be in trouble.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary - Which is the toughest division to predict, NFC West (49ers or Seahawks winning the division) or the AFC North (with either Bengals, Ravens or Steelers winning the division) - I'm going with the 49ers and bengals?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think the NFC West is easy. I think it's Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona and St. Louis. With Arizona probably being closer to San Francisco than in the past. In the AFC North, I think Cincinnati is the best team, then it's a battle with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, with Cleveland behind them. The NFC West is the best division in the NFL.
Do you think the revamped Bears D-line can cause a lot of pressure on the shaky EJ Manuel?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I like that the Bears have really worked to improve on the DL. I think they'll be better on the pass rush, but I'm still concerned about their run defense. Having said that, I don't think Manuel has looked consistent at all in the preseason. I think the Buffalo OL is a work in progress. So, I think Chicago could get some pressure on him. Where Manuel could get in trouble is holding on to the ball too long, trying to identify coverages and that's when the pressure can get to him.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
The real question in this game is can Jay Cutler and his OL hold up against this elite Buffalo DL?
Thoughts on the Texan's Mallet trade? Fitzpatrick has been "the guy" all summer. Why make a trade for someone opening week?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
That's an excellent question. I would have thought they would have done this deal a month and a half ago to put him in as a starter. This is a complex offense and the coaches give the QB a lot to do before the snap. It is not going to be easy for Mallet to step in and play immediately. His skill set is so much better than Fitzpatrick, but his knowledge of the offense right now may take several weeks. I think the coaches probably got to the end of the preseason and they said we can't win with the QB situation now. I think their hope was that Fitzpatrick could be a game manager and win by not making mistakes and playing good defense. But I don't think he took over this offense and ran it efficiently like they thought he would. I don't know if there is a lot in his history that would indicate that he would get it done. On the outside looking in, I agree with you, making this trade earlier would have been a lot easier. However, it's very possible that the Patriots were not willing to give up Mallet until they were sure Garrappolo would come through.
Ed (Queens Village)
Do we see day where QB throws for over 6,000 yards in a season?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I suppose anything is possible, especially with these new contact rules that will make these pass offenses even more productive. Nobody seems to run the ball any more. In the age of these uptempo offenses, where teams try to run 75 plays, I suppose it's possible. Now that we brought all of this up, I think your point is valid, now that we think about it.
Sleeper team(s) for this season?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I don't know that Arizona is a "sleeper," but I really like them. They are so much better in this system in Year 2. They are going to be a very intelligent team that will play with a lot of confidence. I suppose I like Tampa Bay a little bit. They will play hard under Lovie Smith. I love how their defense has played in the preseason. Their offense will be efficient. They will be dramatically different than a year ago. I probably see the glass half empty on more teams or organizations that we think are real good taking a step back.
What team are you most confident in based on their week 1 matchup?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I assume you're asking me because you're in a knockout pool. A game that all think will be competitive, I strongly believe that Green Bay can not go into Seattle and win tomorrow night. I also love Chicago over Buffalo. You have to love San Francisco over Dallas. I love Philadelphia over Jacksonville. Those are the games that come to mind immediately.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
It seems it's been a long time coming, but what a way to start off the season -- Green Bay at Seattle. It's going to be a great fall.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
And BTW, starting next week, we'll be moving the chat to Tuesdays at 4 p.m. ET.