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 (4:04 PM)
Gary is here!
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I feel better about the progress we're making today than I have in a long time. I think both sides are seriously talking now and the thing that I like the most is that it apears that relationships are being formed, where both sides can talk in earnest. I think this is the biggest key to getting a deal is that there becomes a trust factor.
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
It feels like we could maybe have something by the Fourth of July.
Rich (Point Pleasant, NJ)
Any truth to what I've read on-line that Los Angeles is trying to get either Jacksonville, Minnesota, Oakland, Saint Louis or San Diego to move into the proposed new stadium in Orange County?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think it's an interesting situation and I've heard it described as the chicken or the egg. In other words L.A. wants to know they can have a team before they build a stadium and the teams want to know they have a stadium before they commit. I think they are talking to all of these teams and the teams are probably leaving the door open, if nothing else as leverage in their own cities. But I don't think anything seriously is on the verge of happening. I still think that the teams more likely to leave would be Jacksonville because of a waning fan base. And San Diego because they can't get a stadium.
amadi allen (MD,baltimore)
will the ravens make it to the playoffs again
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
Yes they will. They still have a good defense. They have a growing QB in Joe Flacco and they have a lot of weapons on offense. Ozzie Newsome knows how to put a quality team together and Harbaugh is an excelling coach. They're just in a hard division. The margin of error is so small. They have to play so many physical teams that they can easily get on a roll at the end of the season and go deep into the playoffs. They are one of those teams that I think are built to play in January.
Mark (Maine) [via mobile]
Could the Patriots be a good fit for Plaz given their track record of reforming players?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I never heard that mentioned, but it's a very intriguing fit. The only thing I would say is that they have two young TEs who are physical guys and flex and are good red zone targets. Would Plax be too much? Having said that, could you imagine those TEs and Burress on the field at the same time? Those are awfully big targets for Tom Brady. I think Burress will wind up with a team where he can be the primary target on third down and in the red zone. But you are right, no one does a better job of handling those types of players than Bill Belichick.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I do think that Philadelphia was a great landing spot for Burress, but now I'm leaning toward St. Louis. He knows the head coach and respects him. They don't have a legit No. 1 WR, especially in the red zone. And he'd be a great security blanket for Sam Bradford.
Gary, why do you think now all of a sudden we have progress being made in the talks? Seems like we went from 0-60 in about 2 seconds.
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think what has happened is both sides are very nervous about what the courts rule in the next couple of weeks. It certainly appears that the side that loses in the ruling has really lost a lot of leverage. The side that wins in the ruling now could decide to play hardball and that could even lead to a longer lockout. I think both sides, as we mentioned, are really trying to gain some trust between each other. Maybe I'm naive, but I just think a lot of people realize that the climate for this lockout, given our economy, etc., this is not the time to anger fans. Maybe that's wishful thinking on my part. But I think that some people are aware of what people outside the league feel and there is not a lot of patience.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
When we had labor problems in the past, we had Pete Rozelle and Gene Upshaw and they had a friendly but respectful relationship. They could sit down and talk through the issues man to man. I think that has not happened until the last week with Smith and Gooddell. That's a good sign.
How do you see the AFC East stacking up... whenever the season actually gets going? Appreciate your work!
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Miami and Buffalo are clearly below New England and the Jets. I don't see either one of them as serious contenders. But mentioning the Jets and Patriots, I think that will be an absolute great race, with one winning the division and one winning the wild card. They are both talented and I think both will actually be better in 2011 than they were in 2010. I think that race will come down to Mark Sanchez for the Jets and which defense can muster a legit pass rush, which has been a major weakness for both in the last couple of years. I would never bet against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. So, I would probably go with the Patriots, but either one could go all the way.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, given the QB situation in Cleveland with the Browns, plus that in Carolina, I wonder if Jake Delhomme could be a fit back in Carolina as a QB mentor for Cam Newton. Your thoughts on whether or not this could work?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I suppose that would be a little bit of a bridge, but I think nobody expects Carolina to be a contender this year. With a new coaching staff, I think they'er going to throw Cam Newton into the fire. They're going to live with his mistakes and let him be the guy they build around. Why would you play a guy like Delhomme, who you probably feel won't win you games as a QB, when you have a team that you don't expect to be very good? Carolina has a decent OL in terms of pass blocking, so it's not necessarily a situation where Newton is going to get beat up on every down as a rookie. So, I would play him and live with his mistakes. I do think he's a guy that would learn a lot by having him hold a clipboard. Now, if you want Delhomme to be his backup and mentor him, that's another issue. I do think that Newton needs a guy with a lot of experience that can help him in the classroom and in games, but not compete with him for the starting job. That's why I don't think Jimmy Claussen is a fit as a starter or backup.
Scott M. (Iowa) [via mobile]
Why aren't the Packers organizing team workouts? It seems that a lot of other teams are organizing workouts
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
The thing to keep in mind about the Packers is that they have 15-plus guys that were on injured reserve at Super Bowl time. If those guys all come back, some are free agents, they already know the system and the playbook. So, even without workouts, they are still ahead of the game. But I am a little surprised that they're not having some of those workouts, just to get everybody together. Every team does it their own way. It seems like I heard that they're doing the Super Bowl ring ceremony this week. That would be a great time to get players together for 2-3 days before or after for some workouts. I do think it builds some team chemistry, but having said that, I think the Packers are probably the best team in the NFL to be able to try and survive the lockout.
Are the Raiders knocking on the door to the playoffs and a division title or do they take a step back this year??
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think the Raiders are an improving team, although I'm not sure they were as good as we thought they were a year ago. But when you can go undefeated in your division, you're doing something right. I think they've found their formula for winning and that's running the football and being physical. I think Jackson will do a nice job of putting everything together. It will probably come down to the QB position. If Jason Campbell can play with consistency, even though he doesn't have to win every game with his arm. Hue Jackson is an excellent play caller and that's an advantage. With the exception of Denver, who has a long way to go, this is an improving division. Kansas City and San Diego will be better teams in 2011. This might be the best division race in the NFL.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
Let's hope that our optimism is well founded and we continue to make progress. Wouldn't it be nice to celebrate July 4 with teams getting back to work.