Chat with 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 (4:01 PM)
We're getting Gary!
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Obviously, it's a big day in the NFL when a coach gets fired midseason. Some people thought we were going to have two of those happen today. Ironically, they're both coaching teams with Super Bowl aspirations. It's always difficult to fire a coach at this time of year, but some times it just becomes necessary, because the fans almost demand it and the players are not responding to the guy in charge. But I don't expect a big turn around. I think the problems run deeper than Wade Phillips.
Hi Gary! Impressed with the Jets come from behind victory, or a bit lucky?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Well, I think it's a little bit of both. I love the way Mark Sanchez played late in the game. I think he showed some skills and leadership that we really needed to see. While I liked how hard Detroit is playing, this is two weeks in a row that I watched the Jets struggle against a team they should have handled, including Green Bay two weeks ago when they were decimated by injury. I'm just not sure that the Jets are paying enough attention to detail right now. They were absolutely lucky to escapt from Detroit.
Any chance dallas has a crazy turn around and finishes 8-8.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
No, I don't think there's any chance in the world. First of all, they don't have their QB. Secondly, I don't like the effort I see now. And I think we overestimated their talent leve. They have a lot of work to do on their defense and offensive line. I don't see a lot of mental toughness, where these guys will play hard for a sense of pride. I might be wrong, but they've had every chance to show it so far and it cost their head coach his job.
Matt (Santa Barbara)
Who is the best team in the AFC West?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
That's a great question. Honestly, I think that three of the four teams are almost even - KC, Oakland and San Diego. KC and Oakland showed us yesterday that they are as similar as they can be and their games can go either way. San Diego, even with their injuries, have a QB that is carrying the team on his back and now they have a bye week to rest. We may only have one team go to the playoffs from this division, but I think it will be a great race.
How does Favre continue to do it? Was Moss's exit a big part of why?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I don't think Moss' exit had much to do with the players on the field. I think they looked past all of this drama. It's a bigger deal to us. Favre has some magic in that right arm. Yesterday is a perfect example of when he gets behind and has to start taking some chances, that's when he's at his best. It was a high character win for them.
Do you think the fins should make a quaterback change?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
No, I don't. I think that Chad Henne is their QB of the future. I think we've seen enough good things out of him to give us hope. Keep in mind that this is an offense that would prefer to win by running the football, so they don't need a QB that has to win every game. I think it's much too early to think about replacing Henne.
Gary, obviously Wade Phillips was in a no-win situation...how soon before other potential head coaches see that it's the Owner/President/GM's fault for the way the organization is run? Ironically, all 3 titles listed above are one person and it starts at the top.
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Well, that sounds good in theory, but it's not going to happen. Jerry Jones writes checks to everyone, including himself. You know that coming in, you do or don't have the power to make decisions. One of the challenges for Jones is going to be his difficulty in hiring a strong head coach and will let him get involved as much as he wants. Jones has tried it both ways: strong guys that say let me run the show or easier guys to work with that accept the job on his terms. I think it can work both ways. I don't think a lot of people question the talent on this team, though maybe we've overrated it. If I were a head coach, I'd like the idea that I have an owner who would never stop bringing in good players and would never stop trying to make the team better. It would be a different matter if all of their drafts had been terrible and they had no good players.
Does Wade Phillips get another job and if so, where do you see as the best fit for him?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
It's much too early, but I would be surprised if he doesn't get another coordinator job. Though the Cowboys have not played that well in recent weeks, he is a good defensive coordinator. Possibly he becomes a head coach down the line.
Richard (Point Pleasant, NJ)
Jason Garrett replaces Wade Phillips for the next 8 weeks. Since the offense has troubled this year, will Garrett survive the rest of the season?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I don't think there's any chance of that, to be honest. I think the Cowboys fans and everybody around there will really put a lot of pressure on Jerry Jones to hire a big name. Above all, they need a real disciplinarian and a tough minded coach. There is no shortage of good candidates out there. I personally don't think that the Cowboys are the type of team that will rally around their coach in the second half of the season and creat a big turn around. I'll be honest with you, I haven't liked this offense for the first 8 games. I don't know what would tell you that it's going to dramatically change, because I believe that Garrett has had full control of the offense without Wade Phillips messing with him. That's nothing against Garrett, I just don't know what's going to change.
What do you think about Mangini and the browns overall.
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I was probably as surprised yesterday in the way that they beat New England as any game I've watched this season. Beating them is one thing but physically punching them in the mouth is totally different. I've never seen a game where Bill Belichick almost looked outcoached and the Pats didn't seem to be prepared. Cleveland looked like they had a perfect game plan and they had an answer for everything they saw from New England. I like how this team is playing. I like their energy. I think they're on their way to becoming a much improved team. Late in the game yesterday, the emotion they had on the sidelines was really encouraging.
Gary, crazy season. Just when you think we have some top teams established, the Pats lose to the Browns. Just a one week blip?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I agree with you. We can't tell from week to week who the elite teams are. I think the Patriots are really good, but I think they're going to lose games in the future. Very few of these teams are loaded at every position. The thing that would really bother me if I were a Pats fan yesterday would be how they lost. They were outhustled and out muscled. We're just not used to seeing that. If you think about it, a couple of weeks ago, we thought the Jets were a superior team and they're lucky they haven't lost two games in a row. We see imperfection from teams like Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I just think that the age of parity is here.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
But there are probably more good teams in the AFC than the NFC.
BEN SALURI (DSM,IA)
Gary, who do have tonight?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think Pittsburgh will win tonight, because I think they're a superior team and I don't think Cincinnati can match their physicality. For an underachieving team like Cincinnati with a lot of individual stars, you have to be careful on Monday night, because guys like TO and Ochocinco know they're playing in front of a national audience. That can sometimes bring out good performances. I expect to see Pittsburgh run the ball and control the flow of this game. I question the way Carson Palmer has played lately. I think Pittsburgh will win by just playing more physical.
While everyone is talking about the Cowboys everyone is overlooking how strong the Packers have looked the last three weeks. With wins at Jets, at Philly, against Minny, and all their losses by last sec FG's couldnt you say they are the best team in the NFC?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think the Giants are the best in the NFC right now, but I would say that you could make a case for Green Bay being the second best team. I love the way they've played in recent weeks, especially on defense. Coordinator Dom Capers has a lot of injuries on this unit and he's had to put makeshift lineups out there. The creativity has been off the charts. He confuses offenses every week with different looks. I don't think they're that worried about the offense. They'll always be pretty good. Last night they came up with a running game, or Dallas is just that bad. As this team gets healthier, they'll make a nice run late in the season.
Will the Eagles keep starting Vick and will they make the playoffs
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think the Eagles are fortunate in that they have two excellent QBs. Right now Michael Vick makes plays that almost defy description. He can throw the ball deep. He can still make great plays with his feet. He's so tough to prepare for. They don't have all of their offensive weapons yet. This is a good team. I think Andy Reid deserves a lot of credit for how he has handled his QB situation. You have two guys that really get along and respect each other. I think having both of them around could really be beneficial as we get closer to the playoffs. The Eagles are a team to watch out for.
Why was last night the final straw with Wade Phillips? Didn't that game go exactly how everyone expected? The Cowboys just aren't any good.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I don't think it's the fact that they lost at Green Bay, because I think a lot of people thought that was a tough place to play, but it's the way that they lost. This team was out of it in the second quarter. I don't think that it was that they quit, I think it was that they were unprepared. Green Bay ran some things on offense and defense that it looked like Dallas hadn't seen on film. I think it was that lack of preparation that really effected Jerry Jones. The game that I saw last night was as much a physical mismatch that you can see in this league. Keep in mind that the Packers eased up late in the game or it could have been even worse. I can't remember a game this early in the season where a team that we thought we liked simply just mailed it in.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
I know it sounds strange, we're back to regular football tonight. I don't think it gets any better than a physical AFC North battle. I would say that probably the thing that I'm enjoying the most about this season is how teams that we thought were bad are really starting to get better. It's good to see KC and Oakland mean something. It's good to see teams like Detroit and St. Louis play hard. It's good to see Cleveland physically handle New England. Those are great stories in this league. For every Dallas that is underachieving, there are others that give great effort week in and week out.
Buzzmaster (4:34 PM)