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December 21, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton

Gary Horton
  (4:05 PM)

Hello! I thought before this weekend the playoff scenarios were well defined. But I think we forget in the NFL that the parity is huge and teams always play hard late in the season. It seems like half the teams still have a chance. I guess that's a good thing. It creates some excitement down the stretch. But the most unlucky guy is the one who has to figure out the tiebreakers. Let's get to your questions!

Jeremy Farmer (boston)

how much of an impact would you expect Mike Holmgren to have on Cleveland if he isn't coaching?

Gary Horton
  (4:07 PM)

I think some will think he is just a figurehead. And that this is a retirement job. But that is not the case. Holmgren is very organized, loves to build the organization, really enjoys personnel and I think if he takes the job he will bring stability to the organization. He is not a guy that will meddle with the coaching staff. But he will be available when necessary. I personally think he will be a calming influence on a team that hasn't had a clear leader in a long time. He will work a lot harder to build this team than people realize.

Jason R. (Orlando)

So is the "Dallas can't win in December" thing dead forever thanks to beating the Saints?

Gary Horton
  (4:09 PM)

Yes, until this weekend. I don't buy the December fade thing. It just happened. This is a good football team. The problem I see is they don't put back to back games together. How many times this season have we loved them and then the next week they lay an egg? It may be different with their backs to the wall, but they are capable of winning their next two or losing them.

Timo (San Diego)

What do you make of the talk about a loss being a good thing for the Saints?

Gary Horton
  (4:11 PM)

I don't buy that philosophy. I think you get in this game to win every game. I don't think the pressure is any better or worse because they lost a game. It has already been decided by everyone this is a potential Super Bowl champion so anything less would be a disappointment. I just don't see how losing a game helps you.

alex (brooklyn)

If you were a player in the NFL would you donate your brain like they asked?

Gary Horton
  (4:12 PM)

I would but they would probably send it back. I think it's a noble thing. And yes, in all honesty, I would. I think there is a tremendous amount of research to be done about a lot of NFL player situations. I'm really intrigued by what we will face in future years regarding concussions, dimensia, etc. The more research done, the more we can get a feel for what this game takes out of players.

Chris (Seattle)

What are the most important things to look at when taking a quarterback with a high draft pick? How long they stayed in school, arm strength, system they played in, conference they played in? If you are making that pick how would you minimize the pick becoming a bust?

Gary Horton
  (4:14 PM)

I think on the physical side, it is arm strength. You have to be able to make all the throws. When I was a scout, the first pass we looked at was the deep out route. If he could make that throw, you knew he had the strength. But now, the more I watch QBs, I think there is an intagible to how you approach the game. Every QB has talent, but how much does a guy study, how quickly does it come to him, can he read defenses and make adjustments, etc. That is the difference between a Peyton Manning and a Jamarcus Russell. Russell has my physical skills but their approaches are light years apart. If I was drafting a guy today, I would want him to meet the physical requirements but more concerned with his approach to the game.

Hayden (Logan, Utah)

Why do people think Tebow is gonna suck as a pro? I hope the niners pick him up, him or Micheal Vick.

Gary Horton
  (4:16 PM)

I don't think they see him do the normal things QBs have to do in the NFL. He works out a spread offense, a lot out of the shotgun, he doesn't have to make a lot of reads and he does not throw a lot of pro style passes. Having said all that, I want Tim Tebow on my team in the NFL. His intagibles and work ethic are off the charts and he has enough physical skills to turn into a good QB. He won't accept anything else. You could probably create a package to fit his skills. If you are going to draft him, you have to adjust your offense rather than force him to fit into your offense.

Jack (DC)

gary what are the chances Campbell is back next year in Wash? He is definitely improving now that he has had some continuity in the offense.

Gary Horton
  (4:18 PM)

I think they are better than most think. I like the way he has played the last few weeks. This guy has had a diff. offen. coordinator each year, gone through a variety of playcallers, etc. When you look around, there aren't very many better options. He is young, works hard, has good physical skills. You can't just find those guys on the street. Bruce Allen will take a long look at him and the new coach will look to see if he is comfortable with him. I would be surprised if they start over at the QB position.

Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, Florida)

Gary what do you make of the Vikings after that disaster of a game last night and is Brett Favre stumbling down the stretch like he did last year with the Jets?

Gary Horton
  (4:21 PM)

I do not like the Vikings of the last 3 weeks. Their losses on the road to Arizona and Carolina were ugly losses. They exposed weaknesses we had not seen in the past. Their pass protection issues were all of a sudden a problem. They don't commit to the run. Good penetrating defenses stop AP and I don't think Favre is falling apart, although he is not playing quite as well in Dec. as he did earlier in the season. But this offense has changed to a more pass-heavy approach. I bet if we were inside the organization, we'd see Favre audiblizing from run plays to pass plays more than you would think. This offense is at its best when you give the ball a lot to AP and then use play-action off the run game. Right now there is not enough threat of the run to make that happen. Something is missing that I don't have a great handle on but they just don't look to be in sync.

Craig (CA)

Trying to prioritize Chiefs needs in draft ( i know whole new squad) what is your first pick and why?thanks

Gary Horton
  (4:23 PM)

One good thing about being so bad is you can almost just go with the best athlete. Just take the best player on the board. Maybe that is Suh. But I think problably Scott Pioli was shocked at the marginal personnel level of this team. I thought they were better than they were. But again, when you are that bad, you can go in almost any direction. You have needs everywhere. It makes your draft easier.

Nick (Portland)

Is the NFC or the AFC stronger this year?

Gary Horton
  (4:26 PM)

I think NFC. You have more teams that are physical and I think teams that come out of the NFC are battle tested. They have had to be in some heavyweight fights to get there. They are playoff ready in January. But right now there are two elite teams in each ... San Diego and Indy ... and New Orleans and Minnesota ... I think whoever comes out of NFC East will be a tough out in the playoffs. They will be more battle tested.

Wedo (Arizona)

Hey Gary who do have winning tonight skin or g-men and what are the chances zorn keeps his job?

Gary Horton
  (4:28 PM)

I did the matchup for ESPN.com and I picked the Redskins. They are playing with emotion right now. I love their aggressiveness on defense. What bothers me about the Giants is that even as recently as a year ago, we thought they were the best team in the trenches. Right now, they don't scare anybody. They no longer win in that phase of the game. I think it will be close but Washington will play an inspired game at home. I picked them to win 24-23. I thought I was in the minority, but more people than you think are picking the Skins.

Kevin Riley (Ohio)

What would you do if you were Jim Caldwell in terms of playing time for Peyton and Co.?

Gary Horton
  (4:31 PM)

I would probably start Manning and all the other guys as usual and hope to build a lead. Then maybe try to get them out. My biggest concern for Peyton would be the pass rush. Is he getting hit a lot? But I don't think you can go with wholesale rest and then turn it back on in the playoffs. They have 10 days before this next game. He could go almost a month without a meaningful game if they rest him regularly. Give the rookies a little bit of a rest, and also the guys who are legitimately hurt. But guys coming back from injury need to play. I like what they did last Thursday, Freeney and Mathis, they just used them on 3rd down pass rush situations. I don't have a problem with that. It keeps them in but doesn't wear them down.

Gary Horton
  (4:32 PM)

With so many teams still in the playoff hunt, this is going to be a great last few weeks for football. I really think the elite teams are coming back to the pack a little bit and some of our wild card teams may get on a run and make these playoffs closer than you might think. It's a great time of year to be a football fan!