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 (4:02 PM)
We've got Gary!
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
Obviously, it was an interesting weekend of football. I was shocked at how well the Patriots played in the elements in Chicago. It seems very clear that they are the best team in the NFL today, by a considerable margin. I don't know who can go into Foxborough and beat them in the playoffs.
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
If I were to look at the Super Bowl right now, I would probably think the AFC would likely come down to New England and Pittsburgh. And in the NFC, Atlanta and maybe New Orleans. I think the playoffs are shaping up to be something special. We're still looking ahead to a Monday night that has all sorts of drama beyond just one game.
Ken (Redondo Bch)
Good Afternoon Gary, Rams fan here, I was wondering about the Rams needs and weakness. Witch areas of need do you think they will address in the off season. Thanks
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think the future is absolutely bright for the Rams. I think the NFC West will come down to their game in Week 17 with Seattle. You can build your team around Bradford and you have a franchise back in Steven Jackson. Give Bradford some more weapons and build up the back end of the defense and I think you'll have a team that will play for the playoffs every year. I watched them and the one thing I notice is how hard they play, even when they make mistakes.
mike (new jersey)
steelers can beat the pats in the playoffs considering how good there defense is now and aaron smith isnt even back yet
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think that's going to be the key for Pittsburgh in the postseason. Their offense is a little up and down, but they always get consistency from their defense, especially versus the run. However, I do not like their pass defense all the time. I think Tom Brady can negate their pass rush and pressure with that short passing game, much like he did against the Jets. I think it's a better matchup for New England thank people think. But as physical as Pittsburgh is, they always have a punchers' chance.
Ryan (Germantown, MD)
What do the Giants have to do tonight to make their case for being a top contender the NFC?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
Right now the perception is that they're a better football team than Minnesota. In my mind, they have to physically beat the Vikings and probably do it with the run game, where they control time of possession, don't turn the ball over and they wear down this Vikings defense. I really like the way the Giants offensive line has played over the last month. I think if they can set up the run game early, Eli will have some nice play action opportunities later in the game. On defense, they simply have to shut down the Vikings run game, regardless of who plays QB. This is a game elite teams are supposed to win. In my mind, the Giants can not afford a slip up.
Nathan (Coralville, IA)
Do you get the sense that McNabb stays in Washington next year?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think it's a real question mark, because I am not sure it will be his decision. Right now, I think the Redskins have to look at everything as badly as they're playing. This might be a bigger rebuilding job than they thought. When they go McNabb, they might have thought they were closer to being a contender and he gave them a 2-3 year window. I think it's a bigger offseason question mark than we realize. I don't think there's any assurance that McNabb will be here a year from now. But I think that decision comes from the front office and not McNabb. In my mind, at this stage of his career, he needs to be with a team that has everything else but stability at QB. Where he can be plugged in and give them good QB play.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Mr. Horton, I agree Sanchez played poorly yesterday, but why did the coaching staff have Sanchez throwing 44x when their bread and butter is the run game? I think they went away from it too early; the Jets running game is "like Novocaine, give it a little time and it always works."
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I have to agree with you. To me, the strength of this football team is the OL and their run game. You're in a game you think is going to be low scoring. This was a day for ball control and physicality. Your passing game hasn't been good the last few weeks. In fairness to Sanchez, even though he didn't play well, his WRs dropped some catches. I don't understand the lack of chemistry where they're not reading the same things. Heading into the playoffs, I would like to see the Jets pound it out, control the clock and play good defense. Let Sanchez use playaction and use good matchups to make good plays, while feeding off the run game. You get the feeling that sometimes with the Jets, they're outsmarting themselves.
What do you make of Green Bay? Do you see them making the playoffs? My belief is whithout a solid running game it may be impossible, especially with Rogers on the mend now.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think Green Bay is in real trouble right now. A lot has to do with the health of Rodgers. I thought yesterday's loss to Detroit was devastating and I don't know if they can recover from it. I have liked the Packers all year. I love Rodgers in the passing game. But their inconsistent running game and injuries on defense hold them back from being an elite team. I don't know how they're going to into New England and win with a backup QB. Now they have no margin for error. When I watch this team on film, if Rodgers isn't playing great, they have no chance.
Jeff (Boardman, OR)
Mr. Horton, Jets coach Sal Alosi's tripping incident yewsterday merits swift disciplinary action. His intentional, unprofessional act has severly tarnished both the NY Jets and the NFL. I think a huge fine and his job should be the minimum penalty. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I go both ways on it, to be honest. I think it's extremely unprofessional I don't know if I've seen it happen before. But I think all of us at some time or another have thought about it as guys are running down the sidelines. The difference is that no one acts on it. Remember this is a guy who is an assistant coach who doesn't make a lot of money, so a huge fine might be out of whack. But we have to hold coaches to the same standards. I think most guys in the league hope that he doesn't lose his job. He's already been publically embarrassed. Maybe a fine and some sort of suspension would suffice. I would hate to see somebody's career ruined over this. The sad thing about this situation is that maybe it reflects more on the Jets than we would like to admit. It seems drama follows them around on a weekly basis. Maybe this is just one guy acting independently, but maybe it's the Jets as a culture.
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
Buzz and I just discussed this inbetween questions and he brought it up that maybe you take him off the sidelines. I agree with him that is a good compromise. That's pretty good punishment for a strength coach that likes being a part of the action.
Anybody in the league playing as well as Brady right now?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I don't think so. The performance he put on Sunday in that weather in Chicago was surreal. You would have thought the guy was playing in Miami. They've shown that passing game is practically unstoppable. He faced a Bears defense that I thought would be tough on him because of the Cover 2 and having 11 pairs of eyes on him, but he shredded them. I think yesterday proved that they can win in any weather conditions. How can you honestly, as another team, think you can come into Foxborough in January and beat these guys? They are just so well coached and so well prepared. There is just not anything they're not ready for.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Let me share another thought that we talked about today in our Monday Countdown meetings. What makes this offense even more spectacular is that the Patriots did it during the season. This wasn't an offseason transformation where they got rid of Moss and had the OTAs and training camp to adjust to this short passing game. They did this in-season where they were still playing each Sunday. They made these adjustments with real time constraints. That's even a bigger tribute to Belichick and Brady. Who can change their whole offense and the philosophy when they are playing games every Sunday?
If Tavaris Jackson pulls out a win tonight, does he get the start from here on out, or only until Favre can play again?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think most people think that Favre won't play tonight. I personally think if the streak ends that Jackson will be the QB the rest of the way and that we've seen the last of Favre. We know that he's not going to be healthy. The Vikings have to look ahead to the future and determine what they have at QB. Unless they decide to give him a ceremonial last game at home, why play him the rest of the way? Keep in mind some people think that it would be great to see him play on Monday Night Football against Chicago, but that could easily be an outside game at the University of Minnesota, if the dome isn't ready. Why would you subject him to that? I think there's a good chance that we've seen Brett Favre's last pass. I don't think there will be any rush to play him if he doesn't start tonight?
You mentioned McNabb should be with a team missing only stability from the QB position. Do you think Arizona would be that team? Clearly we need stability at that position, but is that all we need?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
Going into this season, I would have said that's a great landing place for McNabb, because based on what we saw in 2009, this was a great football team that is just missing Warner. Plus McNabb has a home in Arizona. However, from what we've seen in 2010, Arizona's problem runs deeper. But you're right, their passing game is atrocious. I could see that as a destination for him, if he is released by Washington. But I don't know if he makes them playoff ready. Yet, he might like playing there because of the location.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think McNabb would stay in Washington if it's his decision. But I just don't know that it's that cut and dry, as this organization will look at everything moving forward. They've been a big disappointment.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
Could we have any more drama on a Monday night than we have? The Brett Favre story, a full house in Detroit, but who are they rooting for?, the Giants absolutely needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt and the Baltimore Ravens needing to keep pace with the Steelers. Yet we keeping looking for a Houston team that we thought was going to be the surprise team in 2010. There are so many storylines tonight in these two games that it will be fun to watch.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
Although a lot of you won't be able to see the Vikings-Giants. This is the greatest time of year in the NFL, because every week the playoff picture starts to form more clearly.