Chat with Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Scouts Inc.'s Gary Horton stops in to talk about the NFL season and other news from around the league.
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!
Buzzmaster (4:02 PM)
We're getting Gary right now!
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
A couple of observations from yesterday...as a fan, I really felt like I was looking at the end of two dynasties with Pittsburgh and the Patriots losing. That may be overstated, but these are great franchises that right now no one seems to fear. It's almost sad watching them. On the flip side, it's still so much fun to watch the Colts and the Saints keep their quest for perfection going, even if they're doing it by narrow margins. It will be really fun to see how they finish the season with resting their players or trying to go undefeated.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, in your opinion will the loss of Vikings' MLB E.J. Henderson have a major impact on the Vikings' playoff hopes?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I don't think it will impact their playoff hopes, but it's a loss. They've been great versus the run, but both Williamses at DT, in all honesty, makes it easier for a MLB to play, because he doesn't have to take on a lot of blocks. I think the Vikings will get through this injury OK.
Cameron Gore (Niceville, FL but ill allways be from INDIANA)
How about them colts, they're just too good. Can anyone beat them?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Oh, I don't think there's any question that they're vulnerable. Obviously, they make key plays when they have to, but this is not a perfect team. They're small on defense. They can't control the ball with the run and even Peyton Manning has not been perfect in the last month. It's a high character team and they usually find a way to win. I was concerned about the preference to rest players at the end of the season, which means they could go almost a month without playing a significant game. Now, with their division wrapped up, they may even start that earlier than we think. I just don't know if you can turn on the switch when you get to the playoffs. I would feel a lot better in the next couple of weeks that they played a couple of games where they dominated.
So what's your take on Oakland @ Pittsburgh... Murphy and Gradkowski looked incredible In crunch time. Should I Expect more of the same or was this a blind squirrel finding a nut?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I am really impressed that the Raiders continue to play hard, even though they're not going anywhere. It was a gutsy performance that they could have just mailed in. My reaction to this game was more about Pittsburgh and their inability to hold a lead and make key stops on defense. That's a major issue this season. The Raiders have something to build on and they are showing a lot more character than I anticipated, but they're still not a good football team.
How do you think Rogers will do in the bad weather tonight?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think Rodgers in the last month has been one of the best QBs in the league. He can adapt his passing game to whatever the weather dictates. He can go to three and five step drops and a lot of underneath routes or he can occasionally take a deep shot. But I would guess that despite the weather that the Packers will spread the field and go after a Baltimore secondary that does not matchup in nickel and dime coverages.
Jason (Opelousas, LA)
If the Saints get everyone healthy, do you think the defense will hold up during a playoff run?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
Yes, I do. I think they played a very subpar game yesterday and they still won. But I think for the most part this has been a very solid defense. What I really like about them, especially heading into the playoffs is their defense. They will blitz and pressure you. They don't back off and play prevent schemes, even when they have a lead.
do the dolphins now have a really good chance at making the playoffs
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think they're right in the thick of things, because they are really adjusting to what the situation is. This is usually a run first offense with a lot of Wildcat. But on Sunday versus the Pats, they threw the ball 52 times and did not run the Wildcat once, which means they adjusted to what they saw from their opponents. I think they are well coached and they make you earn everything you get. I think their win over the Pats is a major accomplishment. Even when they have lost this season, there are some heartbreakers that could have gone either way. This is not a flashy team, but they're solid. I like those teams in December.
Justin (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, after last nights lose..i feel that the vikings might not b as good as their record shows. i now dont believe that the vikings will b in the NFC championship game. the saints also looked iffy. can u see either of these teams missing the NFC championship game and if so who will take their spots?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I still think they're the two odds-on favorites to meet in the Superdome for the right to go to the Super Bowl. There is obviously going to be a seasoned team coming out of the NFC East, probably Dallas or Philly that knows how to play in big games. Arizona in the West is a real wildcard, because they're explosive. I think Minnesota just had a bad day against a hot Arizona team. I wouldn't overreact to it. Having said that, I came away from that game that if the Vikings don't have pass rush pressure, it exposes a defensive secondary that is not a great matchup coverage group. But I don't think the Cardinals' ability to stop AP is something we have to worry about.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Now, if the Vikings lose at home this week, then maybe there is something to worry about.
Where do the raiders go from here? Is Brad G. really the answer? Will/should they stick with him after this season?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
My personal feeling is that Gradkowski is a good caretaker and I think they'll give JaMarcus Russell another long look in the offseason and maybe another couple of games at the end of this season. This was an Al Davis pick and they have a tremendous amount of money invested in him. There is hope he's learned from watching on the bench, much like Vince Young has done. I think they'll give Russell plenty of chances to take the starter's role with Gradkowski as a capable replacement. I don't think they're yet ready to start over at the QB position.
How about Pierre Garcon? What an absolute steal by Bill Polian.
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
They do such a good job in the draft. They really look at character and work ethic, because they know if a young guy on offense has that work ethic along with obvious skills, he's going to play with a QB that will give him every chance to succeed. Garcon is good, but the reason he's excelling so early is partly because Peyton Manning devoted a lot of time to him in the offseason during workouts. Obviously it's paying off.
Justin (New Jersey)
How do you feel about the Patriots? i mean they struggle on the road, but are great at home. they should win their games out but even 1or 2 more loses they should still win the division and get a first round home game.and c'mon they still have Tom Brady
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I was really surprised how poorly they played at Miami. But having said that, I still think they're the favorites in the East. As crazy as it sounds, I don't think they fear anybody in the AFC in the playoffs. I think they feel they matchup well versus Indianapolis or San Diego or even Cincinnati. The two teams I think they would not want to play are New Orleans and Minnesota, but they'll play in the NFC. They can not be an elite team and still make a deep run into the playoffs. But I would really worry about that defense, especially against the pass. Probably the biggest problem they have is that no one is afraid of them any more. Teams play them thinking they can win.
Are the Steelers done? How did it all go wrong? I don't even see the Steelers beating the BROWNS this week, THE BROWNS!
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I don't think they've fallen that far. But I think they're just not an explosive team any more. They're almost one-dimensional on offense, as good as Big Ben can carry them. What shocks me is how susceptible they are on defense. It seems like every game they have a lead but can't close it on defensive stops. If the pass rush doesn't get there, their secondary can be torched. They just don't look like they have any speed on defense. Any plays made are by the safeties, not the CBs. This is another team that seems to have lost its swagger and they just don't give that knockout punch. That causes them to lose the games they've won in the past.
Curtis (Roanoke, Texas)
Hello, whats your thought on the Carolina Panthers changing quarterbacks for yesterdays game ? Should it be a perminant change?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I certainly don't think it would hurt, because I don't think Jake Delhomme is the answer for the future, even though they gave him a costly extension. They're not going any where, so why not see if a young QB has any game. This team has a lot of questions in the offseason. A year ago, they made virtually no moves, because they felt they had a Super Bowl roster. They obviously overrated their talent and now it's catching up with them and they have to go into total rebuilding mode.
willie (houston, tx)
How much longer do you feel Gary Kubiak will last in Houston, especially after yesterday's outcome. In Houston, everyone is talking about the halfback pass, awful play calling!!!!
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think the organization and the owner would really like to keep him. I think they would love to avoid a change. But I don't know if they can do that, based on how they've played the last few weeks. They can't hold a lead. They can't close out games. Their expectations were so high that they thought they could make a nice run in the playoffs. The people in Houston and around the Texans probably feel like this team really underachieved. When that happens, it often times falls on the coach because this was supposed to be their year. And even a bigger problem for Kubiak may be that there are a lot of attractive candidates out there that think the Houston job is a really good one.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
Tonight's game between Baltimore and Green Bay will be very entertaining, even though it's in bad weather, because both of these teams are in a chase for a wild card spot. We are close enough to the playoffs now that we are looking to see which teams emerge. I love the NFL in December because it shows character. I love to watch the teams that don't have a lot to play for still playing hard.
Buzzmaster (4:33 PM)