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 (4:03 PM)
We've got Gary!
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
This is the most optimistic we've been since this lockout started. While it's not a done deal, it certainly appears that we could have an agreement in principle over the next few days. Although it will probably take a little bit of time to iron out some of the additional issues. I will be very surprised if we don't have a full regular season and maybe a little bit of a shortened pre-season and training camp. But I think the players can still get ready in time.
Gary, do you see Legarette Blount having another succesful season in TB? He runs like a freight train headed downhill!
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I do think that Tampa Bay is headed in the right direction. What Blount has shown is he can be a very effective run between the tackles runner. That will really help out the young QB in Freeman.
From what you've heard, will the new deal be long-term or short term? Be nice if it lasted about ten years or so.
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I have not heard how long it will be but it will not be a short term deal. This is not a quick fix situation. But I don't know if it will be as long as 10 years, because who knows what the scenery will be in the NFL 10 years from now. But it will be a deal that everyone should feel good about. The one thing I feel in these negotiations is less animosity between the sides than we've seen in the past.
Do you see Oakland as a top 5-10 defense next year?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think they can be a pretty good defense, but they have got to improve against the run. We know they'll be aggressive. We know they'll run a lot of man schemes witht he blitz. We know they have a run game on offense that will keep the defense off the field. I don't know if they'll be an elite defense, but they'll be an aggressive one.
Gary, it seems like we have some really good young tight ends in the league right now. Who do you expect to have a breakout year?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think you're on to something, because the tight end position has become a little bit glamorous in recent years. Offenses have been using them in the flex position and have been getting good matchups with them against slower, smaller defenders. More offenses are using the tight end more as a receiver than blocker. The versatility is there. These young guys are athletic matchups that can really stretch the field.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think it's one of the most interesting trends philosophically in the league in the last few years.
How good do you think Oakland's offense can be if they can settle their OL before the start of the season?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think they're looking for improvements from their OL, but they have great backs running behind them. I think they will go to a more downhill straight ahead power attack than they did when Tom Cable was running the show and they were trying to be zone blockers. This front five will come off the ball as physical as they can be. Try to create holes. That will really set up a nice play action package. That will create those deep vertical routes that Al Davis loves.
Will Gabe Carimi start at LT or RT this year. I think his skill set is better suited for run-blocking (thats all the badgers do), but if you put him on the right side who will start at LT? Frank Omiyale understood the position but just doesnt look physically suited to play tackle. J'marcus Webb is a tremendous physical specimen but came from a small school and hasn't had enough pro-level coaching (especially with this lockout going on). Whats a bears fan to do? I'd really enjoy not seeing my QB not getting creamed all year.
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think that the organization recognizes that they must get better up front, not only in run blocking but also in pass protection, but I don't think they're there yet. Understand, a lot of the hits that Cutler takes is a result of the offensive philosophy of Mike Martz requires him to hold on to the ball to let the routes develop. What they did in the second half of the season, running the ball more and showing some balance protected some deficiencies up front.
Does Frank Gore have a good year or has age an injuries caught up with him
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Runnings backs are so hard, because they fade so quickly. I think Gore can still be an effective guy. But as a fan, I don't see him lasting a full season any more and I think they have to manage his carries and not overwork him, because he still has big play possibilities. I do know that they have spent a lot of time rebuilding their OL. That should really help. I think new coach Jim Harbaugh will make sure Gore isn't overworked.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Gary, what do you think about the prospect of John Fox starting Kyle Orton in Denver? It seems to me that if he starts Orton and the Broncos end up around 5-11 and Tebow is still an unknown, he has done himself and the organization a disservice in not allowing progress to be made.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think what we will likely see in Denver is Orton to be the starter at the beginning of the season and as soon as the Broncos are out of the playoff picture, which shouldn't be long, Tebow should get a shot. I don't think there's any way Fox goes with Orton the whole season if they're losing games, but I also know that veteran coaches put winning over anything else. I feel they think that Orton gives them the best shot to win now. I could easily see Tebow getting a shot after the first month or so of the season. I agree that they need to know what they have in Tebow. There is no reason to wait another year and have questions at the QB position.
Gorge (Green Bay)
Where would you rank Aaron Rodgers among Quarterbacks and all players in the nfl?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
It's hard for me to rank him below anybody right now. I know the body of work for Peyton Manning and Tom Brady is longer. But if I had to have one QB right now to win with, I'm not sure it wouldn't be Rodgers. He throws an underrated deep ball. He has underrated mobility. He sees everything on the field. I know it's a very QB friendly offense, but the other guys are in a same type of scheme. To me, there right now is not much to separate Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Rivers, Brees.
Does Dallas have the firepower to make a deep playoff push this year or do they have too many holes?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I think they are a very talented team. If Tony Romo plays healthy and with consistency, they will be a terrific offense. My biggest concern is their offensive line, which they're trying to rebuild, but they have just not been good enough in recent years. I think this is a team with more character than we think. For some reason, I expect this to be their year, where they finally play up to their level that we expect. That level to me is a deep playoff run.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
But, it certainly looks to me that the road to the Super Bowl may have to go through Green Bay. It will be tough for someone to go and win in there in January.
Gary, do you think, witht he truncated offseason, that teams will just have to learn how to play with holes on their roster?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think that's an excellent observation. I'm not sure I know the answer. In recent weeks, I've really thought that teams may decide to not overpay in free agency, because as you allude to, they just don't have the time to get them into your system. I could see a movement where just re-signing your own guys, even for a year, would help so they could just jump into your system. The biggest group to be negatively effected are rookie free agents, who even in a regular year, have a hard time catching on. I just don't know how many of these guys will have a serious look, unless we expand the rosters significantly. I agree that some teams will just live with some holes that they have.
How many weeks into the season do you think before we will see teams in tip top shape, compared to otehr seasons.?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
It looks to me like we could lose the Hall of Fame game, possibly. But other than that, we could have most of the preseason, which would probably put us two weeks behind. However, a big thing to keep in mind is that anyone who has ever played sports can train all you want out of the season is never the same as when you're in an organized situation with coaches there. I think it will be a shock to those guys physically. I have also heard players say that the quality of play might be better than we think because guys are so fresh and guys aren't beat up entering the season. I would think the quality of play would struggle for 3-4 weeks, but I don't know how noticeable it would be to the average fan.
Lewis (Flint Michigan)
Will defenses or offenses have the adavantage early in the season due to the lockout?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Interesting question....I would probably say defenses would, because players are doing more reacting and letting their instincts take over. There are so many offenses with QB issues that haven't been able to do anything and there are so many offenses that are so sophisticated, that it's going to take time to get them ready both in playcalling and timing. I think aggressive defenses like the Jets will have a major advantage early on, because they can attack from any direction and it's going to be difficult for the offenses to match those schemes.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
We keep saying it every week, but hopefully this is the week that we have an agreement in principle, although we've all heard that the owners' meetings on the 21st is when it's announced. I think we're close enough for everyone to be optimistic. I would add: can you imagine, if/when we get this deal done, that we are cramming an offseason, training camp, free agency and preseason all into about 4 weeks. Even though that will be challenging, it will also be very exciting, because if you've missed your football news, you're now going to get it every day. It might be the craziest month we've ever seen in the NFL.