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 (4:05 PM)
We're tracking down Gary now! Hang tight! Keep your questions coming!
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Hello everyone! This is when the NFL is the most fun, isn't it? Every game counts. We say it every year but I love the wild card matchups. I'm ready for your questions!
Hi Gary, Happy New Year! I was wondering your thoughts on the Eagles-Packers game, if Vick is say 80% healthy after his week off, and what your prediction would be?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
The Eagles are a very dangerous team. They play a lot of unorthodox defensive schemes with a variety of pressure packages that are hard to prepare for. When their passing game is going well, they are almost impossible to stop even without a run game. I think they have more offensive balance and that McCoy is really good for them. Defenses are taking their chances with the blitz vs. Vick and are willing to play single man behind it. I think what is alarming for Philly is that a lot of Vick's hits are coming when he is working out of the shotgun. This is not quite the same Eagles team we saw earlier in the season.
Chris (Holmdel, NJ)
Gary, why would Charlie Weis want to leave a position as OC in the NFL for the same position at Florida? Seems like a demotion.
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
Somebody told me his son is going to be at Florida this fall. If true, that could certainly influence it. It's a great atmosphere, Florida is a great place to live and to be honest, I'm not sure he and Todd Haley got along that great.
We're in the playoffs..i know its a miracle, but in your opinion do you think we have any change against the Saints??? Could we somehow pull off an upset???
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Sure, there is a chance. I don't think the Saints were a dominant team at the end of the season. I think they are more explosive for sure and the key is to limit Brees in terms of his offensive possessions. Seattle has to run the ball and slow the game down. They can't afford any mistakes at all. They can't get in a shootout. If Hasselbeck plays, they at least have a chance to stretch their passing game. They also have that 12th man advantage with the home crowd.
Darryl (Fullerton (CA))
Do you think the game is becoming too dangerous?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
No. The technology and equipment keeps getting better. I will say this ... the size and speed of these NFL athletes now is shocking. Some of these collisions are really scary. But everybody seems willing to handle the risk.
Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, FL)
Gary does it really matter who comes out of the NFC this season with the way the Patriots are playing they are by far the best team in the NFL and look poised to win the fourth Super Bowl Championship?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think it does matter. There are several teams that could give the Pats a run for their money. In fact, I'm not so sure that with the exception of Seattle, any of the other five could be dangerous in a one-game situation. New England is good but they are not a perfect team. There are some very physical teams in the NFC.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which Home teams do you think will get Beaten by a Wild Card Team This Weekend?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I would say Green Bay at Philly or Baltiore at Indy are both possible upsets. I think Green Bay is getting healthier and playing with a lot of confidence and I don't think Philly is. That may or may not mean something. Baltimore has the style of team that can give Indy trouble with their physical play on both sides of the ball. Even though the Colts won the division, they are certainly not blowing people out.
Suburban Rhythm (Pittsburgh)
Are you in favor of reseeding for the playoffs? Especially this year, where both AFC wild cards have better records than the AFCW and AFCS winners, and Seattle's 7-9 record?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Not really. This is a very unusual year. I think it is a real legimate goal to be able to win your division. For the most part, this is not going to happen regularly. If we re-seeded, division races wouldn't be very important. We may not like the Seahawks but it wasn't their fault that their division was down.
Baltimore is playing the Chiefs, not Indy
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
My mistake ... I was writing a scenario earlier about the other matchup and had that in my head ... I do not think the Jets will beat the Colts. I don't see that happening. At one point, I would have thought that because their style of play at their best is a tough matchup for Manning. But this isn't the same pass rush now. Consequently, the coverages are not as tight. To me the most fascinating point of this weekend will be to watch the pre-snap chess match between Manning and Rex Ryan as they try to fool each other.
some guy (out back)
Hypothetically speaking, which eliminated team do you think could've made a run in the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
Maybe Tampa Bay just because they are a young team that really looks like they are having a good time and was playing with a lot of confidence late in the season. Had they gotten in, they would have had a difference maker at QB and I don't think they would have been intimiated. Some would say the Giants but I wouldn't see them making a deep run.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, Happy New Year to you and your family! Your thoughts on the Vikings making Leslie Frazier their go-forward head coach?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think its a good move. He was well-liked by the players and they responded at the end of the season. He is a solid person and I think the whole key will be to surround him with his front office guys and their ability to make decisions. Don't give all the personnel power to the head coach. It's too big a job for one guy to do it all. If he just coaches the team, I think they will be fine.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
Having said that, I think they're ready for a major overhaul of the roster. This may be a bumpy road for the next couple years.
Will the Lions make the playoffs next year?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I think they are certainly getting better. They play hard and have a really good building plan. When I watch them on film, they have some difference makers on both sides of the ball. They look like a talented, young team to me. Keep in mind, Chicago and Green Bay are going to be good teams next year. This will be a very competitive division.
Kyle (St. Louis)
I know this will sound strange, but was losing better in the long run for the Rams? Does the higher draft pick have more value then a playoff game (which they had almost no chance in)?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I absolutely cannot stand that line of thinking even though I do understand what you are saying. You are in this game to win. To have a young team that has had no success in recent years and to be in position to go to the playoffs where anything can happen once you are in, is your whole goal. Are are nieve enough to think one player in one draft is going to be the difference? It could be but the odds are not good. If you are in the playoffs, you have a 1-in-12 chance to win a Super Bowl.
WWED (W, DC)
What role does the "It-factor" play in player evaluations? Can "it" be measured at all?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think some teams are better at finding that "it factor" than others. When you marry yourself to just measurables you get into trouble. I remember when I was in scouting, there were times when I would sit in a meeting and say "the physical numbers may not add up to what we are looking for, but this guy can play." When I had a strong feeling on a guy, I was right more than I was wrong. I think coaches feel the same way. You can't ignore the physical things but some guys are just natural playmakers and you have to be aware of that. You have to really tune into his attitude and how much he wants to become a great player.
Rich (New Jersey)
Did Jason Garrett impress Jerry Jones enough to keep him around in 2011?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I think he will probably be the head coach, yes. I think they were a better functioning team at the end of the season and that they played hard for him. They were competitive down the stretch. This looks like a team that you don't want to tear apart and start over.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I think the confusion about a potential lockout has an effect on some of these hires. I don't know that owners want to hire a huge name guy and pay big money if we weren't playing games next year. I could be totally wrong but I think it is helping some of these lesser-profile guys get jobs.
Are you sold on Jay Cutler?
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
Well, I like the approach of this offense in recent weeks with better balance. Cutler can dazzle you with some of his throws but also make you shake your head. I thought in the last two weeks that I noticed more teams blitzing the Bears off the slot and they didn't do a good job picking up those blitzes. It looked like Cutler was getting hit too much. They must look at those blitz pick ups during the bye week. As we know, this is a copy cat league and everybody will be watching that film.
We've seen other leagues grow with international players (NBA, NHL, MLB). What does the NFL have to do to get on this same plane?
Gary Horton (4:36 PM)
I don't know that we will see that just because football isn't big enough in other countries. Some people aren't comfortable with the violence of the game. And it is not a simple game for kids in other countries to take up. There is lots of costly equipment involved. I just don't see a sophisticated level of competition that would prepare players to come over here. Basketball and baseball are easy games to pick up with little cost.
Andrew (Ashburn, VA)
What do you take from the Redskins performance last night? Do the Redskins draft a young quarterback and let Grossman play for another year or do we go and pick up a Kyle Orton?
Gary Horton (4:39 PM)
It certainly looks like they are going to have to address the QB position. I don't think this team has many playmakers on either side of the ball and I think it is going to be a much longer project to get them to a playoff type team. They have no run game. Not enough receivers. An OL that needs to be rebuilt. And not enough playmakers on defense. I think they play hard. But it is just going to be difficult to build this team up, esp. if they try to do it all in free agency like they have in the past.
Imre (Missoula, MT)
How can anyone be sold on Jay? I know I'm an arm-chair QB, but his decision making is absolutely mind-boggling at times. Infuriating, frustrating, insanity inducing, exasperating, maddening, I'm running out of adjectives here!
Gary Horton (4:41 PM)
I agree with you on all of your adjetive choices. But he will also make throws every now and then that tease you to believe he can be elite. And he is being coached by a guy that knows offense. He will do thinks that make you wonder what in the world he was seeing. But I do think this offense has more promise than people want to admit. They are capable of getting hot on any given day.
Rob (San Antonio, Texas)
Do you think Holmgren becomes the Browns coach? If not who?
Gary Horton (4:43 PM)
I don't think he will take that job. I just don't see him wanting that particular role even though it would be an easy fit. I think Morningweg from Philly could be a possiblity. I'm sure they would like Gruden if they could get him. I think Holmgren will lean towards someone he has worked with before and someone that will make sense to all of us. They appear to be patient enough to do this the right way.
Gary Horton (4:44 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions! I love the format of wild card weekend with a game in primetime on Saturday. The NFL is constantly looking to increase viewership which is great. It's going to be a great weekend of football with four great teams waiting in the wings next week! Talk to you next week!