Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 17, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Gary Horton

Gary Horton
  (4:03 PM)

I thought we had some terrific games in Week 2. Even though it's early, I think we're starting to get a handle on which teams are elite and which teams are in trouble. The biggest thing I took away from the week, though, is how the officiating seems to be right on the edge of being a huge problem. Defensive backs are mugging WRs. We've seen all sorts of pick plays. I thought there were several games that were real chippy in Week 2. It looks to me that the players are really trying to push how far they can go.

Deven (Buffalo, NY)

Hi Mr. Horton. What were the differences between last and this week's performances for the Bills?

Gary Horton
  (4:04 PM)

Well, they got a nice day from Spiller and I thought Ryan Fitzpatrick played with a lot more composure and didn't make mistakes. The biggest thing was the defense showed up. The pass rush created some pressure. But I will say this in all honesty. I don't know if the Bills were that much better or the Chiefs were that bad, because they do not look like a very good team right now.

Jim (Memphis)

How close are we to getting the regular officials back?

Gary Horton
  (4:06 PM)

Well, I don't know that we're that close, because I don't think anybody is talking. I think that the powers that be feel a greater sense of urgency today than they did last week. I felt that they got away with things last week with no major issues, but I didn't get that feeling in Week 2. I'm just afraid that the players know they can get away with a lot of stuff, so they're going to push it, like you'd expect. I went to sleep last night and did not have a good feeling about what I saw in several games.

Scooter, minny [via mobile]

Vikings defense is bad if they win 4 or5 games is frazier gone?

Gary Horton
  (4:07 PM)

I'm sure he'll be on the hot seat, because, keep in mind, this is not necessarily a young team. There are a lot of veteran players on this roster that played on a high level as recent as two years ago. This team does not look like it's showing any improvement to me. I think when you're in a situation like that, job security probably is a problem.

Gary Horton
  (4:07 PM)

In my opinion, it may get worse in Minnesota before it gets better.

Alex (Anaheim)

Who has the edge in Monday night's matchup?

Gary Horton
  (4:09 PM)

I think these are both two well matched teams. I love what I think we'll see from the no-huddle passing games. On the one hand, I like Denver because they're attacking an Atlanta secondary that's really hurt with the loss of Grimes. On the other hand, I think Matt Ryan is playing in a great zone. He has a lot of weapons. I probably like Atlanta at home, but I think it will be a very close game.

Joe (NY)

How big a loss is Hernandez for the Pats?

Gary Horton
  (4:10 PM)

It's a huge loss, because they run two TE sets almost every down. As much publicity as The Gronk gets, Hernandez is a better athlete. They can line him up in more places and do more things with him. His loss will really test their versatility and limit some of their great matchups that they get.

Michael (Cincinnati)

Browns fans got a taste of the tallent both Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson can bring to the table this week in Cincinnati. Should fans be encouraged by what they saw, with Brandon Weeden in particular, or simply remember it was against the Bengals?

Gary Horton
  (4:11 PM)

No, I agree with you. I remember writing something last night, that if I was a Cleveland fan, I saw some really good things from Weeden and Richardson that should excite me about the future. That Cincinnati defense is a pretty good group. I don't think Cleveland has near enough weapons, but I saw better effort and better production than I did in Week 1. And that's all you ask for from a young team.

Dave (Charlotte)

I heard some in the media believe Bill Belichek is sending a message to Wes Welker that he is ticked off Welker did not accept a new contract. I find this really hard to believe BB would sacrifice the good of the team to send Welker a message. Isn?t it more likely that OC Josh McDaniels is using different personnel depending on the team and situational play?

Gary Horton
  (4:14 PM)

Well, that's what the company line is, that Welker's play is determined by the offensive packages. But I have a different take on it. You can only pay so much at one position. When you consider Hernandez and Gronk are really in that WR category and you've already paid them the big money, it's hard to do it for three guys in the salary cap world. I think the Patriots thought that you can only pay two of these guys and Welker is much further along in his career. And like Bill Walsh used to do, he used to cut his stars a year or two before they started going down. I think the Pats feel that Welker won't be there a year or two from now, they decided to see if their other players can get it done. However, with the injury to Hernandez, it will be interesting to see what they do with Welker.

Yosemite Samwich (Philly, PA)

What are your thoughts on the Eagles defense through the 1st 2 weeks of the season?? I've been really impressed.

Gary Horton
  (4:15 PM)

I really like what I am seeing, especially from the LB position. I thought the biggest weakness a year ago was their inability to step up and fill on the inside, which is imperative. Now, they are getting great production. They look like a totally different unit.

Rich (New Jersey)

The Eagles are 2-0 but have all those turnovers in two games, if they keep playing like that and waiting till the fourth quarter won't the losses start piling up?

Gary Horton
  (4:16 PM)

It's hard to know that. You're making a valid statement, but we could also go the other way and say that they can't play much worse than the first two weeks and they're still 2-0. If they start to settle in now, they could really get on a nice roll. But I do agree with you that they do not look like an elite team in the first few weeks.

Mitch (Cambridge)

It may take a while, but the Bears can eventually fix their offensive line, via the draft, free agency etc...However, what can they do when they have a QB in Jay Cutler that seems to have a total lack of character and an inability to deal with any kind of adversity at all?

Gary Horton
  (4:18 PM)

I'm really curious if that develops into a huge problem. The first thing I wondered as I watched that unfold last Thursday, is could he lose that lockerroom? I think it's one thing to chastize a teammate for a mental mistake, because those are correctable. But to berate a guy about a physical mistake, that he just doesn't have the ability to control, I think that crosses the line. When you attack an OL, keep in mind that they are a very tight knit group. That could impact several players.

Jamie (BFE, Kansas)

How bad are the Chiefs?

Gary Horton
  (4:20 PM)

They don't even look competitive through the first two games. I thought they'd look better on defense. They're giving up too many big plays. This is a team many thought would be very competitive in the AFC West. I would think there is a lot of unrest in Kansas City in both the front office and the coaching staff, because this doesn't look like a team that will turn it around very quickly.

Dave (Charlotte)

Was the outcome of the Giants game a salute to the Giants resilience or the outcome of a young team and young coach that needs to learn how to play with a big lead and hold on for the win?

Gary Horton
  (4:22 PM)

I don't think there is any question that resiliency and Eli's ability to be clutch in the 4th quarter was a factor in that game. What I took away from it was the fact that Victor Cruz and Nicks were absolutely dominating the Bucs' secondary who continued to play tight man to man schemes and single coverages and Eli burned them for 510 yards. It appeared to me that the Bucs were very stubborn and just didn't make any adjustments. Having said that, the Giants have some real issues to deal with and it starts with the DL and the secondary that really has trouble in coverage. When that front four can not get a lot of pressure, it really exposes them.

Lucio (Tx)

After almost 2 weeks who is your top 5 teams right now?

Gary Horton
  (4:24 PM)

Right now, the top two teams are San Francisco and Houston. I think they're clearly better than everybody else. When I watch them on film, they don't have any major holes on their roster. They have a chance to dominate. They are also well coached. These two teams are here to stay. I would be surprised if what we've seen in the first two weeks doesn't continue. I expect it to.

Jake (Miami)

What did you think of the Fins this weekend they they make it two in a row against the Jets?

Gary Horton
  (4:25 PM)

I think they have a chance against the Jets. Frankly, we don't know what Jets team will show up. I think the Dolphins defense can handle the Jets offense. This game probably comes down to Tannehill not making mistakes against Rex Ryan's defense. They need another big game from Reggie Bush. It would not surprise me at all to see them upset the Jets.

Brian (London)

Seems to me to be a lot of talk of how the Cowboys lost and not enough about how the Seahawks won that game. Very underrated team I think (Seattle).

Gary Horton
  (4:27 PM)

I think everybody forgets how hard it is to play in Seattle. Teams hate playing there. It's a very loud crowd. I don't think the Cowboys looked really ready to play coming off their big win in New York. But you're right, Seattle's defense, when I watch film, is a top 5 unit in the NFL. They have a chance to dominate games. The only question mark is if they can get enough production out of Russell Wilson. They play a lot of two TE sets. They didn't put him in position to make a lot of mistakes. I think Seattle is a team that will get better and better.

Kurtis (Houston, TX)

What is J.J. Watt's potential in your opinion? Will he become the best 3-4 DE by season's end?

Gary Horton
  (4:29 PM)

What I love about him and this defense is he has the size to play the run, but he also has the athleticism to rush the QB and you don't see that from a lot of 3-4 DEs. The other thing that I love about Watt is his ability to deflect passes and knock them down. It's something the Texans work on a lot in practice. Even if he doesn't get to the QB in penetration, he gets his hands up. He's very productive in that area. That's a skill a lot of guys don't have. He has a non-stop motor with high character, which means he'll work very hard to get better.

spencer (monroe,louisiana)

will the saints continue their lossing streak

Gary Horton
  (4:31 PM)

No, I think they'll beat KC this week at home, but I don't think they're close to turning things around. Drew Brees looks lost to me. I don't see a rhythm on offense. Because their defense isn't producing, they're forced to blitz and that leaves the back end of the defense in 1 on 1 coverage situations and that's not their strength. We all expected this defense to be much, much better and it's not. In my opinion, and everyone else has already said it too, Sean Payton's strength as a playcaller is really missing.

Gary Horton
  (4:32 PM)

I think tonight's game will be fascinating because of all of the storylines. We just can't get enough of Peyton Manning. I love how competitive these games are.