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 (4:00 PM)
We're getting Gary!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
Since we talked last Monday, I had a chance to really look at both teams on film throughout the week in preparation for the 45 telestration plays that we brought down to Miami. That really gives you a good feel for the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
Who might be the biggest surprise at the Super Bowl?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Let me pick a guy on each team. Robert Meechem, WR for New Orleans has really turned into an effective red zone target. It looks to me like Drew Brees really looks for him when it's close. Even though he might not have a lot of catches, he could matchup well against the smaller Colts defenders.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
On the Indy side of the ball, I'd go with Garcon or Collie, because Peyton is willing to go to his 3rd or 4th options in the passing game and that takes it deeper in the Saints sub packages. That leads to some interesting one on one matchups.
Do you think KC will go after Peppers?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
First of all, I don't know that you can bank on anything you hear at this stage of the offseason. He's a good football player. I don't think he's lived up to his capabilities, but edge pass rushers are hard to find. I'm sure there will be a good market for him, though I'm not sure he'll get what he thinks he's worth on the open market. It will be interesting to see how they handle this.
Better OL in the game?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
To be honest, both teams are eerily similar up front. The Saints are terrific inside at center and guard, but they're a little vulnerable on the edges at tackle. The same can be said for the Colts, with Jeff Saturday at center and the inside guys doing good jobs, but they are also vulnerable on the edges. I think you have to give the edge to the Colts because Peyton rarely gets sacked, which is partly to do with the OL. But they are so smart in their pre snap adjustments and are able to change their protections and take whatever they see from the defense.
Gary, both teams have good WR core. Which team is more versatile?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
This is really almost a push. They are so similar. They can spread you out in multiple receiver sets. But I think the difference here might be Reggie Bush. The Colts don't have a similar guy on offense. He's a nightmare matchup, because you can count him as a back or WR. The Saints probably go deeper with their spread than the Colts. Indy is primarily a 3 WR, one back offense. They don't spread you out like the Saints. Because of the Bush factor, you might give a slight edge to the Saints.
2 minutes left Sunday, Brees or Manning to get down the field and score a TD for the win?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I don't think there's any question that you want Peyton Manning. I don't think there's ever been a better QB in the 2-minute drill. He never panics. This offense knows exactly what it wants to do as the clock winds down. Their clock management is off the chart. I give a lot of credit to their OC for giving Peyton the freedom to call his own plays and make adjustments in those situations. The success they have is a direct reflection of the preparation involved before the game takes place.
ben (los angeles)
Gary, what was the biggest surprise you noticed on the films?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
One thing that really surprised me was the Saints defense and their aggressiveness. You look at them statistically and you don't think they're any good, but these guys fly to the ball. They punish offensive players. They're right on the edge a lot of the times of making a late hit, but I came away with a feeling that they know they don't have great personnel, which would allow them to play it straight. So, they basically take an attitude that we're going to gamble, try to hit you and take some turnovers. That really was something that I underestimated.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Regarding the Colts, I think it's so easy to underestimate the speed of their defense. We know they're small, but these guys really fly to the ball. I think most opponents when they're trying to get ready for the game are not ready for what they see on the field.
Gary, what, if any effect would the rain have either of these teams?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
A lot of people have bounced that question around and I'm not sure we have an answer. The Colts played well the last time they were here for the Super Bowl and played in the rain. The WR will say they have an advantage because they know where they're going to plant and drive to. But both of these teams have a wide open offense, so I don't think that's a question. The Saints have a good run game, but the Colts can answer with short slants in the passing game. Defensively, a wet field would probably hinder the Colts because of their front speed and pass rush ability. But both defenses take pride in flying to the football and neither sit back in zone and schemes. So, after all of this, there is no real advantage to either team.
how about the team's preparation? Will the rain effect that:
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
The good thing about having a week between the championships and the Super Bowl, most of the schemes were put in before today. The teams arrived today. Tomorrow will be Media Day. The quality work days will be Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. But the things have put in. It's just about staying sharp. To me, it would be interesting for the coaches to determine should we move inside, try to get to a dry field to get better conditions or play outside and try to get a feel for what we're playing in on Sunday. Sloppy fields would probably be a hindrance in terms of them simulating the speed of the game.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
A limited Dwight Freeney would be a huge advantage for the New Orleans offensive line. Saints would be able to double Mathis and control the line of scrimmage. Could this be the key to the game?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think right now, it's a huge key to this game. The biggest mismatch if Freeney is healthy is against Saints left OT Bushrod, who has played fairly well, but has struggled against edge pass rushers and Freeney is certainly in that category. If Freeney is healthy, Bushrod can not handle him by himself. That means having Shockey in there to double or having a back chip. With an unhealthy Freeney, you can add another player to the passing game and roll your protections to Mathis. Although Raheem would take Freeney's place and he is no slouch. Look for the Colts to make up for the loss of Freeney with a lot of games up front with twists and stunts designed to confuse the Saints offensive line.
What's your prediction?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think if the Colts play a clean game, they won't win in a route, but they'll win by 10-14. I think this game comes down to pass protection for Manning. New Orleans is going to push the envelope and try to get him on the ground and they've done well in the playoffs against Kurt Warner and Brett Favre. If Manning can stay clean he can carve up this defense.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
In a game that features terrific QB and pass offeneses, the key could be who wins in the trenches.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Obviously, we have the two No. 1 seeds in Miami. They look to me like the best two teams right now in the NFL. I think we're set for a terrific game. The similarities between these two teams are really interesting. I look for a very entertaining game.