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 (4:00 PM)
We're getting Gary!
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
Despite all of the challenges of the week in Dallas, I thought the game itself was played well, with two evenly matched teams. Sadly enough, now all of the stories in the NFL will seem to have a negative context because of the potential lockout. The next month is going to be a very trying time. It seems like we're in a lot of unchartered waters. I don't know what to expect.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Will we see a lockout or probably a season Cancelled in the NFL in 2011?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I don't think there will be a cancelled season. I think eventually they'll get something done. But it could certainly damage OTA's, training camps and the preseason. But at some point, enough will be enough for both sides. The tough thing is the owners will lose millions of dollars. But you have to remember, players don't get paid in the offseason. All of their income comes during the season. So, it doesn't really effect them right now. But if they start missing paychecks in the fall, that could be tough to handle for them. Right now, both sides have great resolve. I don't understand how smart men can't sit down and have a discussion in a room, even if they don't agree.
Anthony...omaha nebraska [via mobile]
What positions will the packers draft in the first two rounds?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
First of all, they're in great shape, in my opinion, because they're young. Keep in mind how many guys they had on injured reserve at the end of the season that will be healthy next year. They also got great contributions from guys that were free agents that didn't cost them much. They'll look at the RB position, possibly. They could look at CB, because Woodson is getting up there in age. If Driver retires, they could go WR. They could always add some help along the OL. This is really a good football team, without glaring needs.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, I really have enjoyed your chats during the past year! It's my opinion that ALL NFL parties (owners, players, coaches and their families, and the fans) lose out during a lockout, and there are no winners. Do you agree with this statement?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
There's no question that everybody loses. Nobody will be happy if there's a lockout. I think the fans will come back, even though a lot of people will say the games' been damaged. People just love the game too much. But when we look back at these work stoppages and for all of them, we say that it was a loss. For none of them do we say, wow that side really did well. I don't understand how you could do something like that to a game that's so popular right now.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Every potential starting NFL quarterback has to be very physically gifted or they would not be playing in the NFL. I know this sounds simplistic but the intangibles (i.e. leadership) are what separates decent starting quarterbacks (i.e. Jay Cutler) from star quarterbacks (i.e. Aaron Rodgers). What do you think separates decent starting quarterbacks from star quarterbacks?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
As simple as it sounds, a lot of it has to do with your work ethic and approach to the game. Most of these guys who are starters, as you said, have good physical skills. Some don't, but most do. The great ones study like no one else and their work ethic is off the charts. Guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers study and don't leave any stone unturned in their preparation. You would be shocked at how much they do to get ready. Some might think they're working hard, but they're not doing the things that could make them great.
Will Chargers defense be more aggressive under Manusky than last year's defense?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
They've made over their defense the last couple of years. I think they might want to get back to a more aggressive, attacking style. It wasn't long ago that this team was a terror at LB, with Phillips and Merriman coming off the edge. That's no longer the case. Statistically the Chargers look really good. But when I watch them on film, I just don't see enough big, game-changing plays. That's what they need to get back to to help their offense.
mike (new jersey)
How was your first sunday without football? Assuming there is a cba, are there any chances steelers get asomugha, cromartie, or bailey because they need serious help at corner?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
To answer the first part, it was extremely strange to not have football, but I also am back home in San Diego, which lessened the burden, as I walked along the harbor in the 75-degree sun. I just turn to other sports. I'm watching more NBA and college basketball.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I definitely think the Steelers need to look at the CB position. They've gotten by for the last few years with a so-so secondary with a great player in Polamalu and a pretty good player in Ryan Clark. They're not a man team at CB. But I don't think they'll spend big money on free agency, that's not their style. I think they'll look to the draft. As good as that defense is, they're vulnerable at CB if the blitz doesn't get there.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
After winning the Super Bowl, the winning quarterback gets a ton a of praise that sometimes results in that person becoming bigger than the team. Knowing Rodgers' background and how he handled taking over for Favre makes me think he will stay grounded. Do you see Rodgers keeping a level head?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think that's his style. Keep in mind that Green Bay has a small-town atmosphere, almost like a college situation. I just don't think he's a huge partier and is a guy that will get caught up in all of that. We have to remember that he had to be very patient and wait to have this success behind Brett Favre. That makes him appreciate it and understand it. He is so well coached in the fundamentals of the position that I don't think he'll take anything for granted. There is a lot of character on that team. I see him as a guy that can finally say this is my team and that I have to be a leader.
mike (new jersey)
Top 5 teams that will have the toughest offseason will be...........
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think you'd probably start with Carolina. They have so many holes. They are such a big question mark at the QB position. You could also say the same thing for Tennessee. They have better personnel, but who is going to line up to play QB? Minnesota is facing huge challenges to remain an elite team. Arizona is close to being a disaster. All of these teams have a common thread: they have instability at QB and not a guy that you feel comfortable building around. I even probably left out a few teams there.
after the deep bears playoff run, can we expect more of that next year?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I like the Bears. But if I am being completely honest, I don't think they were as good as their playoff run looked. I think they have a chance to surpass Minnesota in the division now. But I don't know about Jay Cutler in terms of consistency. I worry about the OL. I just don't know if you're going to get from week to week. I think they'll be competitive, but I don't think they're a powerhouse. To me, they look like a 9-7, 10-6 team and maybe that's good enough. Ironically, had they beaten Green Bay in Week 17, and knocked the Packers out of the playoffs, they could have wound up playing in the Super Bowl. You just never know.
chris [via mobile]
I always argue with my ravens fan about which qb would teams rather start with from scratch. They all say flacco while I say freeman. Who would you pick?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
That's a very interesting observation. I would probably want Flacco. I see really good improvement in the last few years. I like his confidence, however he has some consistency problems. Maybe I'm more impressed because of his supporting cast. Having said that, I've seen Josh Freeman make all of the throws that he has to. He's played well in the fourth quarter. I think both of these guys have a nice future.
bruce [via mobile]
How much would a lockout hurt a young team like the Bucs? I would have to imagine after the draft they will get even younger, if that's possible.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
It generally would probably hurt the younger, more inexperienced teams the most, because those teams need the most reps and game situations. Teams with more veterans can probably survive easier. They know how to stay in shape. They know the playbook. A lot of these guys, while they practice in training camp, they don't play much in the games. The more established teams might be OK, but the younger teams might struggle.
What priorities do the Cowboys have this offseason and can you see them making a playoff run as long as they fix that OLine?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think that's what they have to look long and hard at - that OL has been a patchwork group at best in recent years. I love their talent level. I still think Tony Romo was ready to break out. I would still like to see some help for them in the secondary. They're not a great cover group. They could use some help at ILB. But this is a team that has a lot of good players at most positions.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, as a Vikings fan I agree that the Vikings fall into the "tough offseason" category. Given their situation, do you feel they may benefit more from a veteran QB from free agency, or from the best available first-round QB from the draft (even if they have to trade up to get him)? It's time they establish priority at the QB position...
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
First of all Al, I applaud your courage to say that you're a Vikings fan when you're from Wisconsin. I think that's really an interesting question. In my book and the people I've talked to, I think they'll look at a veteran, because I think they think they still have a great window of opportunity to be an elite team. They don't want to wait for a young QB to develop. I think that window is closing faster than they do and I might go with a rookie QB and get him up to speed in a year or two. But I think they might go try to find a veteran and patch work it together.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
This is a tough time for all of us, because the game we love is in jeopardy. Most of us, including myself, have a broad understanding of the issues, but I think we all just wonder why so many smart guys can't get something done. But that's probably why they're in the negotiating room and we're not.