Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 21, 3:30 PM ET
Chat with Gary Horton

Buzzmaster
  (3:32 PM)

We've got Gary!

Gary Horton
  (3:33 PM)

Like every year, we are continually shocked after a couple of weeks after spending the entire season evaluating things that we didn't see happening. We're shocked by Dallas and Minnesota on one side and Chicago and Miami on the other.

Peter (Atlanta, GA)

More need to panic: 0-2 Cowboys or 0-2 Vikings? Which team is more for real: 2-0 Chiefs or 2-0 Bucs?

Gary Horton
  (3:35 PM)

I think the Cowboys, because I see a team that is not firing on all cylinders in a lot of areas. I think their playcalling is shaky. They don't run the ball enough. They have OL problems that they may not solve. And I'm not sure about the overall intensity of this team. It's almost like a team of all stars that thinks they can turn it on at any time. But they can't. I think Minnesota can improve their problems if they work on the passing game and get Brett Favre more confidence with his WRs. There's no question that they miss Rice a lot, but this is still a good passing attack. There's no question in my mind that missing Favre in training camp hurt them. I think they'll be a better team in three weeks, but will they be in too big of a hole by then?

Gary Horton
  (3:37 PM)

I don't think either of those 2-0 teams are for real, though both are playing hard. I would probably lean toward KC, because I think they have an excellent run game that can roll up a lot of yards and control the clock. THey have a young aggressive defense that's coming around. I really like their coaching staff and decision making. And they're in a division that looks like they can make a move. I don't really believe in Tampa Bay yet.

Paul (Denver)

It's quite obvious the Bears "won" yesterday's game and not the other way around. When a team has three takeaways and their opponent has none, it's as legitimate win as it gets. So why is Dallas claiming it was their doing and it had nothing to do with the Bears? Their D and O couldn't have played much better than that.

Gary Horton
  (3:39 PM)

Well, if I remember right, some of those turnovers bounced off of guys. I don't want to say lucky bounces, but the Bears were in the right place. But I agree that Dallas was simply outplayed. Mike Martz made great adjustments, going to shorter pass drops after Dallas really pressured Jay Cutler early. It was a brilliant in-game adjustment. I don't understand where the Cowboys come from when they have three outstanding backs that should have been able to jam the ball down Chicago's throat. Yet they're so heavy on throwing the football that they have no offensive balance. It doesn't make any sense. Tony Romo is a play action passer, and you usually get that done when you establish the run.

JD (AZ)

How worried should I be about the Packers running game? Jackson had what, 11 carries for 29 yards? Is he not the answer, or should he get more chances?

Gary Horton
  (3:41 PM)

I don't think you have an answer for the run game right now, but I think the Packers will get it done by committee. They're not going to be a dynamic running team. What I liked about them on Sunday was that they still attempted to rush. They had 27 rushes and 29 passes. They got guys like Kurn and Nance giving them some decent carries. I think this will be a running back by committee that will be asked to give them enough carries to do play action and force defenses to play base schemes and not always be in nickel.

Dan (Philadelphia)

Can you see the Eagles trading Vick to the highest bidder now that Kolb is back?

Gary Horton
  (3:43 PM)

No, I don't. I think that Vick has played so well that they are definitely going to keep him around at least for the season. They have a good feeling for Kolb, but they don't really know what they have yet. They don't know how he's going to react for an entire season. I understand Andy Reid giving him the job, because they committed to him in the offseason, but you don't get rid of a guy like Vick now until you see enough of Kolb's work. I think another problem for Philadelphia is that Vick probably has the lockerroom on his side and it will be tough to switch it back and forth. Though, Vick is saying all of the right things. Reid has a tough decision to make in terms of when to give Kolb the hook if he's struggling. I think it's a lot sooner than it used to be.

Jay Singler (Pittsburgh,PA)

Is it safe to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers the way they're defense performed against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday are the best team in the AFC by far?

Gary Horton
  (3:45 PM)

I think they're playing to the best of their capabilities. I don't think they're the most talented team, because they don't have a QB. This is exactly how they wanted to play. On defense, they're as good as they've ever been. Their running game is pretty good. For them to be 2-0 is outstanding. If you're a Steelers fan, you have to be excited because you get your QB back in two weeks and he'll join a team that is playing well and has a lot of confidence. This could be the best team a month from now.

Lemmer (Baltimore)

Gary, how about some love for Josh Freeman. Seems like Sanchez and Stafford get all the publicity, but Freeman seems to be outplaying them. What are your thoughts on how he performing so far and have the Bucs finally found a franchise QB? Thanks!

Gary Horton
  (3:46 PM)

I think Freeman is making great progress. You're right, no one knows it because no one sees him. He probably doesn't have the weapons those other two do. His decision making is better. He's showing more patience. He's really starting to look like a guy who can be an elite QB. They just have to surround him with better players.

Don (Concord, CA)

Gary, call me an optimist but I look at last night's game as a sign that the Niners D is for real after all and they can grind out wins as long as they don't turn the ball over a bunch of times (and snap it through the endzone, etc). Do you agree or do you think they are a mess like many seem to? I think they beat the Chiefs this week and are in control of the division by the halfway point.

Gary Horton
  (3:49 PM)

No, I absolutely agree with you. Having watched that game and having rewatched it today, I came away thinking that this team is much closer to being solid than they were a week ago. I was really disappointed with them in Week 1. But after last night, I thought these guys were close to being a contending team. Alex Smith played a good game with good decisions and tight throws. It's obvious that he has good weapons. Gore is an elite back both as a runner and receiver. I think that OL is going to get dramatically better and maybe be the most improved part of this team. On defense, Patrick Willis looks like he can take over a game on his own. This team almost beat the world champions and they played with passion and discipline. They're in a very winnable division. I'd be surprised if they don't win the division.

Mike Buckley (Denver)

Smile, Gary! It's great to have the NFL season fully underway! Which team is your textbook surprise at this point? Personally, I'm surprised that the Vikes are playing like a collection of dead corpses!!

Gary Horton
  (3:50 PM)

A year ago, it looked like Brett Favre made a seamless transition from not much of training camp to playing well. They look like a completely different team a year later. They're not in sync. Brett looks old. I think they're a month away from being a cohesive team, which is probably a month they can't afford.

Gary Horton
  (3:51 PM)

For my surprise team, it would be the Chicago Bears. They were lucky to beat Detroit, but they handled Dallas in Week 2. They battled hard. Mike Martz has done well with Jay Cutler. They're making good in-game adjustments. And I think they outcoached Dallas. We will know how good they really are against Green Bay on Monday night.

LL (VA)

What do you think about the skins as a team now?

Gary Horton
  (3:54 PM)

I love the way they played defense in Week 1, flying to the ball, changing schemes, creating turnovers, etc. But in Week 2, they made Matt Schaub look like a Pro Bowl player. He's a good QB, but they gave up so many passing yards that I wonder if it's the scheme or the pass coverage. I think the Redskins will continue to play hard. Donovan threw the ball extremely well and looked 10 years younger than he is. They're going to be an up and down team. I don't think they'll have a great run game all year. I think the passing game will win several games. But if I'm a Redskins fan, I'm hoping the defensive performance was an abhorration and not a sign of things to come.

Peter (Atlanta, GA)

Better rebound win: Jets or Bengals?

Gary Horton
  (3:56 PM)

I think the Jets by far. They talked so much. They put themselves in a very scary hole. If they lost to the Patriots, it would have been a horrible division loss, a lot of people would have started to doubt them and a lack of confidence would start to become a factor. Not only did they beat them, but they did it with Mark Sanchez finally looking like a good QB. I thought their playcalling was excellent. They looked like a team that was using all of their weapons. I can't think of another team in recent memory that needed a team as much as they did for their psyche.

Joe (DC)

Who would you start if you were Andy Reid? And, if Kolb, how long would you give him if he is not performing?

Gary Horton
  (3:58 PM)

That's a very tough question. I would probably keep Vick in right now, just because I think he's playing at such a high level. It seems like there is such a confidence with the team. What I would probably do is tell the team that Kolb isn't healthy yet, whether true or not, to lessen the controversy. Kolb is a talented QB, but they play a down team this week and then Donovan McNabb the week after. If Kolb struggles against Jacksonville, you stop the momentum you have and then you're facing McNabb. I think continuity is big in this league. I understand what Andy Reid is doing, but I don't think anybody expected Vick to be this good in back to back weeks.

Kevin (Baltimore)

Flacco looked terrible on Sunday with the exception of the drive to start the 2nd half. Do you think it was the result of poor play calling, his ability to read the efense, or a combinnation of both? Of his 4 interceptions, 2 were terrible and 2 were very very bad.

Gary Horton
  (4:00 PM)

I think Flacco has a chance to continue developing. Remember he has a lot of new weapons to get used to. I don't like the way that offense is playing right now. There is too much firepower. Maybe it is playcalling. Maybe it is too much of a defensive mentality where they don't want the offense to screw it up. But Flacco has improved on his ability to throw between the hashes, which has been a problem and they have a good run game. Their inability to put up points is an abhorration. But the coaches will have to realize that this offense has a lot of weapons. You can't play it that close to the vest if you want to succeed.

Gary Horton
  (4:02 PM)

I think after two weeks, we've seen why we love this league, because all of the things you predict in the offseason don't mean a thing. The old addage, that's why they play the games, is always the reality. Each week brings fascinating new story lines and it's going to make for a wild ride.