Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, 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, including NFL32, where he breaks 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!
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
I really anticipated great matchups on Wildcard Weekend, but for a variety of reasons, I didn't think the games were very compelling. It became very apparent that the teams on a bye are probably more elite teams than the ones that played, so that will set up some great matchups this weekend.
it's RGIII's job to insist he can play. it's the coaching and medical staff's job to tell him he can't and sit him down, right?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
There is such a fine line between toughness and recognizing that you're not fit to play. He's such a competitor that he felt like he could go. It sounded to me like they never really examined him on the sidelines. It's almost like he avoided the coaches and doctors to go back into the game. It didn't seem to be a real clean situation to know exactly what his status was and then deciding whether to play him or don't play him. That should be up to the medical staff, to be honest, but I don't know if they really had the chance to examine him. From a coaching standpoint, it's tough to take out a guy if he says he can play.
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
For all of the criticism regarding Mike Shanahan, I don't think he or another coach in this league would put a player out on the field if the training staff said he couldn't play. You have the medical people make the decision. In the case of RGIII, I don't think he ever talked to them.
the last few years, it seems like the guys that that played the first weekend got some momentum and took that into the rest of the playoffs....but this year, from these games, it doesn't seem like playing the first week really helped anyone...what do you think?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I thought there was one exception there, the Seattle Seahawks. They came into the weekend with a lot of momentum. For them to go on the road and win in a tough environment was a huge breakthrough. It gives them confidence that they can win away from Seattle. I see them as one low seeded team that can run through this playoff scenario.
Will we see a replay of the first matchup between New England and Houston or a much closer game? Does Houston have a chance to win?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Houston played stretches of defense when they met in Week 14 that was actually pretty good, even though you wouldn't know it by the score. With Bill Belichick to have two weeks to prepare and even though Houston played a little better against Cincinnati, they still did not look like the elite team from the first half of the season. I just don't see this as a close game. I think the Patriots will win comfortably, because of their ability to stretch the field. In their first meeting, Houston gave Tom Brady a lot of pre-snap information that he was able to use to get great matchups. The Texans' only chance is a huge day for Foster, which eats up the clock and keeps Brady off the field.
Do you think the Seahawks are a legitimate superbowl contender? and why are people sleeping on the emotionally charged ravens?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I absolutely do. They have the perfect formula. They're cocky and aggressive on defense. They have a power fun game that now has a read option element taht teams have to deal with. That sets up an underrated play action game. They are absolutely playing with confidence and they do not fear anybody. I think they'll upset Atlanta this week. If that happens, that would make the following week's matchup - at SF or at GB - very intriguing. If, somehow they do get to the Super Bowl, no one can question that they earned it.
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Part of the problem with the Ravens is now that they have all of their defensive players back, this isn't the defense that we're used to seeing. Even though Flacco looked better this weekend, I think we still have a real fear about which Flacco is going to show up, especially against a very underrated Denver defense. The emotion thing is a nice story and it was fun to watch, but I don't think it has any bearing on what happens when they go to Denver. This was a nice hump for them to get over after not looking very good the last few weeks. There is a chance that this Broncos team may not be as good as we think they've been the last couple of months. There are a lot of new parts here that may not necessarily play at the level that we've seen.
Green bay seems to be getting a lot of love for their win but they beat a bad team with a really bad QB and did not do it very Convincingly...what do you think about the game this weekend?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think the good news is they have all of their guys back to make their playoff run. They're probably the healthiest they've been in a while. I agree with you, the Minnesota team that we saw Sunday isn't close to being the team we saw two weeks ago and Green Bay didn't just blow this game out. If you're a Packers fan, you can feel good about a defense that seems to be peaking with a lot of good young players that got experience as rookies. Also, Rodgers spread the ball around to 10 different receivers, which is a good sign for the passing game. The Packers even showed some promise in the run game, which we have not seen. I don't think they're on fire, but I think they're peaking at the right time. Winning in San Francisco is really going to be tough.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
If somehow they can get away with this one, then I think they're probably in the Super Bowl.
Daniel (San Diego)
How much variation is there from A.Reid's West Coast offense to offenses that KC have used for past few years?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Andy's big goal will be to get better players to run the system. The big thing for KC will be that their strength is in their physical run game. That has not been a big part of Andy's years in Philadelphia. If he can get a QB that he's comfortable with, it will be interesting to see if he can run an offense with balance, or if it will be pass happy like in Philadelphia. He will surround himself with great football minds, but it will come down to personnel.
What do you think of Andrew Luck in his first playoff game?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
The overriding sentiment that I continue to see about Luck is he is doing more with less than any of those young QBs. He absolutely has to carry this offense and that leads to more INTs and bad plays, because he's the only guys making them. His WRs dropped a lot of passes against Baltimore. They were shy about getting hit. The pass rush pressure really bothered Luck and he is taking entirely too many hits. The success that he's having is amazing, considering how little time he has to throw and how many people are in his face. If I'm this front office, my No. 1 goal is to upgrade the OL in the offseason and try to find a running back that can at least provide some semblance of balance. The passing weapons will be OK, because Luck will make them better, much like Peyton did.
Gary houston;s running game was a problem in the firstmatch up with new england will we see a diffrent game plan the texans make on sunday?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
No, I think Houston's run game is probably the most defined in the NFL and it never changes. We know they're going to be a zone blocking, one cut and go scheme. They are going to try and make some backside cuts and hope the Patriots overpersue. If they have a problem, it's the right side of their OL is not very good, that may make Foster run to the left more than he might like. The Patriots do a good job of playing slower on defense, setting the edge and filling the gaps, especially on the backside. If you overpersue against Foster, that's when he hurts you. This really comes down to execution, because there are not a lot of mysteries here. I will say that I was shocked at how poorly Cincinnati's defense played against him. I thought they could dominate the trenches matchup and they didn't.
Everybody is on Seattle at ATL...and rightfully so, who do you like?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think I like Seattle. I've watched a lot of film today and Atlanta's defense has had trouble stopping power run games. They like to play a nickel scheme as their base package. If they do that against Seattle, Marshawn Lynch will have a field day. I think the Falcons will really struggle to handle the read option, which was superb against Washington. If they read well, then Seattle will control the flow of the game and time of possession and keep Matt Ryan and the passing game off the field. The other thing for Seattle is Atlanta's passing targets are big physical guys, used to playing agaisnt smaller DBs. That's not the case with Seattle. They will lineup and press and be physical. That will ruin the timing of the Atlanta passing game. White, Jones, Gonzalez, can they get separation against this group?
John (New York)
Gary, despite the success of RG3 and Russell Wilson, after RG3's injury will there be a reluctance to A) sign these types of QBs to long term deal and B) draft them accordingly due to the high probability of injury.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I don't think it's an issue. I think everybody has accepted the fact that that is who these guys are. I think there are little things that coaches will work on, like getting out of bounds, making sure you slide, not taking extra hits, but these guys coming into the league, that's what they're getting in college - the read options and mobility at the QB position. I think for the first time that I can remember, NFL teams are adapting to college offenses, rather than college coaches making the players come in adapt to the NFL offenses.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Having said that, you better have a good No. 2 QB, because he may have to play more than you think.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
All four of these games this weekend are elite games that any one of the eight teams could win and it wouldn't shock us. I don't think there are any weak teams left in the playoffs. That will set up for a great weekend of football.