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October 18, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Gary Horton

Buzzmaster
  (4:00 PM)

We're getting Gary!

Gary Horton
  (4:02 PM)

Another week has come and gone and we still don't know who half these teams are. Right now, I wonder if this is a 9-7 type league. I just don't see great consistency on a week to week basis. But the good news is that even if your team is bad in October, that obviously doesn't mean that you're out of the playoffs this year. I guess that's a good thing.

JD (AZ)

What's wrong with the Packers offense? Why don't the run the ball more? I know they have injuries, but the play calling seems to predictable.

Gary Horton
  (4:04 PM)

I think what's happened is they have just decided that they can't be productive in the run game and I believe that they have so many weapons in the passing game that they can be successful. I think a little bit like San Diego, that they're going to have to throw the ball to run. Any success that they have on the ground might be a little bit of a mirage.

Gary Horton
  (4:04 PM)

That may be a problem as the weather deteriorates.

Nathan (Coralville, IA)

Colt McCoy had a pretty good debut against one of the nastiest defenses in the league. Any chance he sticks as the starter in Cleveland?

Gary Horton
  (4:05 PM)

I think they would like to bring him along slowly, but if he got through yesterday without taking too many hits, that should help the organization feel better about him.

Joey (SC)

The Redskins played really good last night but couldn't finish. Do they look like a legitimate playoff contender?

Gary Horton
  (4:07 PM)

I think they're a well coached team with some missing parts. I think they play hard, but I don't know if they have a marquee receiver that can be a game changers. I think McNabb gives them a chance in most games and I think their biggest advantage is that the NFC East does not have an elite team right now, so they can be in this race.

Aron (STL)

Thanks for your time Gary, Rams seem like they are on the right path But still have some major issues to resolve. What do you think this coaching staff needs to do to take the next big step.

Gary Horton
  (4:08 PM)

I think that Sam Bradford is going to be fine. Steven Jackson has at least a couple of years left. But I think offensively, they're not going to reach their potential until they get some big time WRs. They're not playing with anybody right now that scares defenses. Speaking of defense, these guys don't have great depth, but they play hard and their schemes are solid. This team is a lot closer to getting to beind competitive than people realize, if they can find a couple of more playmakers.

Adam (Chicago)

What is going on with pass protection with the Bears? The line does not know who to block. The RBs just chose not to block anyone. The TEs seem to lack the ability to block. I've never seen anything like this before. It's an absolute mess.

Gary Horton
  (4:10 PM)

Other than what you just described, I think they're fine. You mention all of their problems, but it also goes to coaching. Mike Martz sill wants the 7-step drops. He doesn't run the ball enough to make defenses feel it and Jay Cutler holds on to the ball too much. Sometimes, it's because his receivers can't separate and sometimes because he can't make a decision. This should be a short passing game with 3-5 step drops and have some balance. Then play great defense. But right now it's easy to tee-off on them because you know what they're going to do.

Alex Perez (lexington, kentucky)

how do you think Ben Roethlisberger will effect his team?

Gary Horton
  (4:12 PM)

Well, yesterday was an excellent example of the fact that they didn't really change their gameplan on offense. A lot of people assumed that when Big Ben came back that they would resort to multiple WR sets and spread offenses and more passing, but I think they know their identity now - that's run the ball, play great defense and let your passing game complement the offense. The one great thing that Ben brings to the table is to extend the passing play and not just sit in the pocket and take a hit. Nobody is better than he and Hines Ward when the pocket breaks down and they have to improvise.

Ben (Baton Rouge, LA)

Why does Mike Martz hate the running game so much?

Gary Horton
  (4:14 PM)

I think guys have certain reputations in this league of being geniouses in certain areas and because of that they get certain jobs. I think he just loves the passing game. He had great success with it in St. Louis. At the core of his beliefs is that it's OK to sacrifice your QB in terms of hits to create the big plays that this offense can do, even if it's slow to develop. But when things aren't working, it looks a little like a selfish offense. I don't think he has the personnel in Chicago to make it successful.

Ryan (Germantown, MD)

Hey Gary, how close are the Giants to being an elite team? I know they let the Lions hang around but they've been doing that to everybody.

Gary Horton
  (4:16 PM)

Well, if you noticed yesterday, a lot of teams let teams hang around. And good teams find a way to win, even when they're not playing their best football. I think they have the ingredients to be a good team, especially with their defense playing better. Their pass rush and schemes are starting to take hold. And they can have a solid run game. The problem for them will be consistency on a weekly basis. You just can not predict what they will do next week. The Giants are a good team that can play good for two weeks in a row and then lay an egg. I don't know if that's character, coaching, concentration, whatever, but boy it's a factor this year.

jeff (phx,az) [via mobile]

Mr. Horton, the 49ers won yesterday ,do u see them as getting over the hump and stringing a few together?

Gary Horton
  (4:18 PM)

Anything can happen in the NFC West. They still may be the most talented team in the division. I believe their QB will play better. They can run the ball and their defense can improve. But I know it sounds like a broken record, but I just don't know if we will see consistency on a weekly basis. I'm beginning to think that the NFL this year is a league where you need to win the games you are supposed to win and then hope that you split the games against legitimate opponents. It doesn't look like anybody is going to run off and hide.

Mike (San Diego)

The difference in the level of coaching in the Chargers/Patriots game this week has to be worth about 6 points, right?

Gary Horton
  (4:20 PM)

Obviously, the Chargers are playing badly right now. They make silly mistakes and they just don't look like a mentally tough team. But remember, it seems like every year, when we get ready to wash our hands of them, they get ready to go on a run. Although, I don't think they have the depth and quality of players this year and they may not be able to overcome those mistakes. However, having said that, I don't think the Patriots are an elite team. You can expose their secondary and if you have a good gameplan, you can slow down the underneath run game. Bill Belichick is a master at putting together gameplans that work against good opponents.

Are we having (Fun yet)

Who would you rather be right now, Wade Phillips, Mike Singletary or Norv Turner? Think any of them is still coaching a year from now?

Gary Horton
  (4:22 PM)

I think there's an excellent chance that all three could be gone. I would have said Norv Turner was safe until yesterday. It seems to me like not only are these teams losing, but the way they're losing does not bode well for the coaches. They don't play smart football. They make too many mental and physical mistakes and at times they almost look disinterested. That's what will really put a coach in trouble, if he's not getting the most out of his team.

Brad (Madison)

Alot has been said of Packers offense and for good reason but we cant over look that the defense is not forcing the turnovers it was last year. Does this fall in the lap of Dom Capers? Shouldnt he be able to overcome injurys?

Gary Horton
  (4:24 PM)

I don't think this is a Capers problem as much as an injury problem. They have been hurt in terms of their pass rushers and they have been decimated in the secondary. It's hard for them to line up in their man schemes and blitz because they don't have the healthy bodies. It seems like Capers is dialing back his schemes and by doing that it takes away their chances for the big plays. Until they get healthy, I think this is what we'll see.

David (NYC)

Most intriguing part of tonight's game?

Gary Horton
  (4:26 PM)

I think watching Vince Young and Chris Johnson is always going to be fun, because they are two electrifying athletes. They can create a lot of big plays. This looks to me as a game that Johnson can really post some big numbers. Even though it doesn't look like a huge marquee NFL game, I think Jacksonville will provide a nice backdrop and it will make this a big night.

Gary Horton
  (4:26 PM)

Let's not forget, both of these teams are not in an overly strong division and are still in the race.

Brad (Chicago)

Lions play tough but cant win, Bears go from Great to Awful, Packers have more guys on IR than games played and cant win close games, and Viks are hit or miss with a QB thats hit or miss.....all that said who wins the Black and Blue divison?

Gary Horton
  (4:27 PM)

I would say, as disgusted as you are, I would move to another part of the country.

Gary Horton
  (4:29 PM)

Seriously, I think you've hit on it. I'm not sure that Minnesota won't take this division by the time we get to December. I have no faith in Chicago. I think Detroit plays hard, but they're still a year or two away. Green Bay's injuries are bigger to deal with than most people think and they won't go away any time soon. But having said that, I could see the Vikings going into Green Bay and losing. I look at the NFC North and 9-7 could win this division and it certainly doesn't look like a wild card will come out of the division.

Nathan (Coralville, IA)

What is Bill Parcells going to do next year?

Gary Horton
  (4:30 PM)

I thought Bill Parcells was really good on TV. I could certainly see him do that on a part time basis. I just don't see him doing another NFL gig. He's had a lot of different stops that have given him variety in a lot of different capacities, so I don't know what he has left to conquer. I could see him becoming a consultant for an NFL team. I think he would be terrific in a TV role.

Gary Horton
  (4:31 PM)

Or maybe he does something in the league office, at a bigger level.

Gary Horton
  (4:32 PM)

I think this will be a better game tonight than most people think. It will be a big deal to both teams. It has some meaning. If we were looking for trends this year in the NFL, I think we're out of luck. I honestly am baffled from week to week by what we think we're going to see and what we actually see, both good and bad. But, that's what makes it the great game that it is.

Buzzmaster
  (4:32 PM)

Thanks for chatting Gary!