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 (3:57 PM)
Gary will be here at the top of the hour to take your questions!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
The NFL continues to be confusing as ever. It's almost impossible to tell who the elite teams are any more. Two weeks ago, we thought no one could go into New Orleans or Minnesota to beat them. Now it looks like anybody can. I don't think Indianapolis looks unbeatable. In my mind San Diego looks the best. It certainly sets up an interesting playoffs in January.
Greg (ashburn va)
is Chicago Bears likely letting lovie smith go after tonight if they loose and are the bears a bill cowher city since he wants back in in 2010?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I'm not sure. I think that one you have to look long and hard about. I think there will be changes on the coaching staff, certainly on the offensive side of the ball. But I don't think Lovie's gone. This team just doesn't have good personnel. That might fall more to the front office than Lovie. I just don't think it's a given that he'll be gone.
Hi Gary -- The WORST part of the Colts giving the Jets the win last night was the JETS are fighting for a playoff spot. If I was a fan of any team on the cusp of making the playoffs, I'd be ticked. The Colts just basically HANDED them a playoff spot!
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think you're exactly right. And how ironic is this? The Jets were dead in the water two weeks ago and in the last two weeks, the way this sets up is that they play two teams that don't have anything to play for - Indy and Cincinnati. The Jets could back in, because their final two opponents weren't even competitive. I don't know how we change it, but that's not the NFL we signed up for.
Gurman (San Ramon, CA)
Hi Gary. Isn't Philip Rivers the REAL MVP and Norv Turner the Coach of the Year? Rivers overcame huge defensive and offensive injuries to carry his team and rally them past Denver. Again.
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I don't think anyone can take anything away from Peyton Manning, but I think Rivers has been great. And Norv is certainly a candidate. As we mentioned, I think the best team in the league right now is San Diego. But I think Peyton is the MVP in everybody's mind. I would be surprised if Jim Caldwell doesn't get coach of the year, however, the decision he made Sunday could really change a lot of peoples' perceptions of him. When I watched that game, when those players came out, I thought it was an extremely uncomfortable situation. That could backfire.
Do you agree with what the Colts did in pulling out starters?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
No, I did not. Peyton is the most durable QB we've ever had. You can get hurt in practice on Monday the same as you can get hurt during a game. Had they had a big lead, I would have said it's OK, but they basically told the world, we're up by 5 points, we know we can't hold it, but that's the way it is. I think the fans were disgusted, the players were disgusted. THe players go into the game thinking they want to win every game. I think this could easily come back to bite the Colts as it has in the past. I would have played them into the fourth quarter, hoping I could build the lead and then I would probably slow down this week against Buffalo after getting a lead. Now, what about this week? Do they mail it in, like I expect them to, they could be 14-2 going into the playoffs with no momentum? I don't like it at all. We push guys in the offseason through OTAs. We're physical in minicamps. We beat them up in training camp. They play 4 preseason games and 16 regular season games. They play all year and then all of a sudden we want to pamper them at the end of the season. It just doesn't make sense to me.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Mr. Horton: Is there any reason to think the Vikings won't win another game this season? Chicago played the Packers tough two weeks ago and even though the Giants will have nothing to play for, they may not want to finish at 8-8.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I think there's a good chance that Minnesota could lose tonight at Chicago, even though they're a much better team. I think there are a lot of underlying problems. I think this could be a cold weather, sloppy game. There's a good chance that the Giants next week, even though they're not going to the playoffs, will play with pride. They're a veteran team with a lot of character. I don't think they're a team that will mail it in. I don't think they would come to Minnesota and just go through the motions. The Vikings may be the team next week that just goes through the motions. Minnesota is better than the two teams they'll play tonight and Sunday, but I can see a scenario where they lose both teams. If they're the Minnesota team we think they are, they go ahead tonight early and this becomes an easy win.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
How about Jamaal Charles? He has a lot of similarities to Chris Johnson. Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
He certainly has come out of nowhere. He's a productive guy. He doesn't have a great supporting cast, yet he's putting up good numbers. He's a guy to look for in the future.
What Minnesota defense do you think shows up tonight, the one that beat up Chicago last time at home, or the one that's been getting killed in recent road games (at Arizona & Carolina)?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think the defense will be OK tonight, just because I don't think Chicago has any offense. I think if the Vikings struggle tonight, it will be on offense. The Bears can't run the ball, they're not a physical team. Cutler makes too many mistakes. I think the Vikings defense will handle the Bears easily. This should be an easy Minnesota win, if they don't implode on offense.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Do you see what has happened with the Saints these past two weeks as just a bump or a bad trend? It's not like they were dominant in their last few wins either.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think there is cause for concern. Their defense is not creating as many big plays and turnovers as they have in the past. Drew Brees has not been as dominating. The running game has been up and down. And much like Indy, these guys have had some close games. It's not like they're routing people every week. I think the big problem right now for the Saints is that nobody is afraid of coming to the Superdome now, which wasn't the case three weeks ago. The aura of you can't beat us in our house is in real jeopardy. There's no way that Tampa Bay should have come back from at 17-0 deficit in New Orleans yesterday.
Jonathan (Hyde Park)
NE Patriots made another "statement" game in which they defeated a mediocre team by a large margin at home. Does this game do anything to change your thoughts on them as Super Bowl contenders because it was home (we are 8-0 at home and 2-5 on the road) and against an opponent i consider mediocre at best?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
What I saw from the Patriots yesterday was the fact that they're finally putting together a complete game. I think Brady even said that after the game. When that happens and they're in sync, they're tough to contend with. I don't think they have a great defense. They'll have to outscore people, but this is a dangerous team with that smart offense, when they're clicking in the playoffs. That combined with the fact that with the exception of San Diego, everyone else has kind of come back to the pack puts the Pats right back into the elite status.
Jamal (Cleveland, OH)
What do you see happening with Holmgren in Cleveland? Everyone assumes Mangini is out, but if they pull out a win against Jacksonville next week, that's 4 in a row to end the year, and it started with the Steelers (who always kill us). Does Mangini still go?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think it's 50-50. Mike Holmgren may have the sentiment that he really wants to watch this for a year and rebuild the organization and not start from scratch. A lot of people think he really would like Gruden, but he might not be ready for another year. It might just be that he's not going to replace him unless he has a guy he's in love with and I just don't think that guy's there. I don't think Holmgren is in a rush to change things, but I also think that if he doesn't get along with Mangini, he could easily make changes. This could be one of those deals that he says we'll run this on offense and this on defense and if you want to stay, you'll change. That probably means going to a West Coast offense and a 4-3 defense. Will Mangini accept that?
Packers chances in the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think the Packers' chances are excellent. They're a hot team right now, with tons of confidence. I think they feel like they can go on the road and beat anybody. They would be a team that I would think would love to play in Minnesota in January. I think they think they can beat anybody in the NFC and I'm not so sure that's not the case.
Joel (Charlotte, NC)
What is your take on Matt Moore? He has been impressive, especially the last couple of weeks against the Vikings and Giants?Could he be the long term answer at QB for the Panthers?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think it's right on the edge of that. He's certainly looked good and you like a lot of the things he does, but we have no idea if he can maintain that through a 16 game schedule. I think it's a little dangerous to crown him as the guy, but he's played well enough to at least be in the hunt in the fall. The thing is that Jake Delhomme cost them so much money, it's not as easy as you think to go out and spend a ton of money on another QB.
How dangerous do you believe the Eagles can be in the postseason? If they win at Dallas and Minnesota even loses one more game it's Philly that will have the Number 2 seed in the NFC. I know their Defense is not quite what it once was but they could easily go into Minnesota and New Orleans and steal a victory.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
They're a veteran team. What makes this team different than past Eagles teams is their explosiveness on offense. I agree with you, I don't trust them on defense like I have in the past, I don't see as much aggressiveness, but on offense, I see a team that can put together several 50+ yard plays in a game and can score from anywhere on the field. So, if they're going to go anywhere in the playoffs, it will be on their offense. If it's clicking, there's no place that they can't go into and be competitive. I think what's interesting is that two weeks ago, I don't know if anybody can beat Minnesota and New Orleans. They're the cream of the crop. But right now, I'm not so sure that I wouldn't say that Dallas, Green Bay and Philly are the top teams, let alone Arizona. I don't know if those other two have come back to the pack or the others are peaking at the right time.
Jake (Peabody, MA)
Pats opponents have averaged 9 pts a game since bellichek dumb down the defense and stuck with a base 3-4. I have been impressed witht eh defense since this chenge. I think the defense as it currently stands could be better than you realize. Your thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think your insight is terrific, because I saw this about 3-4 weeks ago myself. When I watched film, it looked like the Pats would play well for stretches and then make 1-2 mental errors that would lead to big plays. They had assignment breakdowns that would lead to that. Now they simplified the calls and basically say if you want to score on us, you have to put together a 10 play drive. I think it suits their personnel and it eliminates big plays and is the right thing right now.
Katelyn (Syracuse, NY)
Is this buzz about Weiss going to Buffalo for real? Do you think it would be a good move?
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I don't get excited about it, but I don't hate it either. I have a little of a sour taste in my mouth over the last few Notre Dame years. It seems to me like it would be a good time to take a year off and refresh, but that's not my decision. I think Charlie Weis is a great offensive mind, but I just don't know about the people skills and all of the things it takes to be a head coach, beyond the football. I would be curious as to how it would be received in Buffalo by the fans. In all honesty, I think that will be a tough job to fill. I'm not hearing any hot names right now. You would certainly think the Weis would help the offense.
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
I think that even though we don't have a lot of mystery about who's going into the playoffs, I think the fascination this weekend is how dramatically the seeding could change. There could be a tremendous amount of juggling in the NFC and AFC when you get past the top seeds. That's where a lot of intrigue will come. But I think it all starts tonight. Is Minnesota the team we think they are? If they are, they should go into Chicago and take care of business. If they're not, the NFC opens up wide. Week 17 is going to be fun.