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!
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
I love to see some stories developing about teams we didn't expect to be this good. Namely the 49ers and the Bills. And maybe after tonight, we can add the Lions to that group. It's great for the game to see franchises that have been down having this kind of success. It's hard not to root for these teams.
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
And, their records to this point are not flukes. These are legit teams with a chance to continue winning.
Is tonight's game the best Monday night game we've had?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think it has all sorts of drama, because it's a great rivalry in the NFC North. I think most fans are excited to see the Lions as a relevant team. All of the tough times that city has gone through makes it a special night. It's more enhanced that the Tigers are still in the baseball playoffs. That city is rocking right now. It is probably a game that a lot of people are anticipating. If Detroit wins tonight, how about next week's matchup of San Francisco and Detroit? Both Cinderella teams.
Gary with the flux in the NFC East is this division the Cowboys to lose? I really feel like if Romo can be more consistent Dallas can be a legit contender. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I don't know if you can favor anybody right now. It's going to be a combination of a team fixing some things and getting hot, or whoever's in the lead will falter and come back to the pack. I've looked at the East the last few days and I don't think anyone will run away with the division. I look at them as some of the most underachieving teams in the NFL. We didn't expect Washington to be any good, but they're playing over their heads. Dallas, the Giants and Eagles all have a lot of problems and all of them are fixable. It looks to me right now that the only team that will advance to the playoffs from this division will be the division winner and no wild card. That didn't seem to be the case at the beginning of the season.
Tom (Lincoln Park)
Gary, do you see the Bears being able to contain the Lions passing game? I don't see as many big plays happening, but with Pettigrew/Best/Young I can see a lot of yards coming underneath.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
Well, schematically, the Bears Cover 2 is not supposed to give up big plays in the vertical passing game. But the safeties have not been very disciplined in the last few weeks and they've allowed WR to get behind them. That should worry you if you're a Bears fan. I also think the Lions will try to exploit the middle of the field. I think patience is probably in order for Stafford, but I think he can do it. But the Bears have to hope that they'll apply enough pressure without them having to blitz. Because if they're forced to go man-to-man on coverage, Megatron can have a field day.
Did you ever think that this statement would be true this deep into a season: Alex Smith is 3rd in the league in passer rating.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
No. That's a great point. If you go a little deeper, you can see why he's having success. I think Harbaugh has finally brough stability to the position. He's really being coached well. He's throwing a lot of short to intermediate passes and getting the ball out quickly. He's using that athletic ability to get outside of the pocket. Remember, he has an excellent running game, which opens up the passing game and he has quality targets. I've watched him on film the last few weeks. I think the thing that stands out to me is his lack of mistakes. He's playing almost error-free football and not putting them in bad situations.
What position group is the Jets most dissapointing this season? D-Line? Running backs? O-Line?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Well, obviously they're disappointing. But they've also lost to a couple of pretty good teams. Things get a little easier now. My biggest surprise is that they've not been able to run the football effectively. Their identity is to pound the ball, control the clock, use play action, keep the defense fresh and create turnovers. None of those things are happening. I am baffled by the play in the run game, but that has a trickle down effect to the rest of the team. I also think that the pass protection has not been good enough. Mark Sanchez has taken a lot of hits. Until this run game becomes more effective, I am afraid that defenses will just load up and come after Sanchez.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
That is not a good sign.
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Also, on a different Jets thought....I think this is a huge week for Rex Ryan. You would think that his lockerroom is not dealing with a lot of confidence right now. When you have a bully's mentality and yet you can't beat or intimidate your opponents, that creates self doubt. This will really be a big week in my mind for this coaching staff to hold them together and continue to make them believe that what they're doing is the right thing. Playing next week on Monday night, a players' pride takes over because no one wants to be embarrassed on national TV with their peers watching.
If the Bears lose tonight, they will be 2-3 coming out of week 5. In contrast, two NFC North teams will be 5-0. Can the Bears consider their season over?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I'm not sure we can say that. They're still a good team with veteran players. None of us know how the rest of the season will play out. The Packers will probably run away with the division. But that means that the wild card will be up for grabs.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
They have a chance to catch Detroit. It looks like right now the wild card could be a wide open race in every division except the NFC West. That's also a lot of good teams vying for two spots.
With the injury to Super Mario, do you still see the Texans making the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
To be honest, I don't know what to think of the Texans at this point. I thought they did a nice job of replacing Andre Johnson's production on Sunday. I thought they played pretty good overall defense. This is still not a team that knows how to handle success. I like this defense and Mario Williams has been almost unblockable. I think they can survive without him. But he's such an impact player. He makes everyone better on that defense. The thing he does best is moving around the formation and finding a matchup he can exploit. But this is a division that nobody is going to run away with. As much as I like Tennessee, they looked very ordinary on Sunday. In my opinion, Houston will win this division by default, but I'm not sure we will look at them as a viable Super Bowl candidate. But that can all change.
andy davis (england)
How many times can you see Cutler being sacked this evening?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
But you know Detroit will come after him with their front four. They'll probably have 7 guys in coverage. I think the Lions feel they can get to Cutler with the front four. I expect the Bears to go to a short passing game to get the ball out quick. I think this is a big night for Matt Forte, maybe more as a receiver than a runner. I think Chicago has to be patient. The short passing game almost serves as a running game. They run well with Forte. The Lions are an aggressive defense which might be susceptible to it. I also know they like their LBs speed right now and range.
Will the Pats D become more stable as the season goes on?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I watch them each week and I'm just baffled at how they get exploited in the passing game. I don't think that's schematically, they're just growing as a group. Their biggest problem is they need a pass rush. They just don't have it. Where is that difference maker guy off the edge? If they can find that guy and create more pressure, it would enable those defensive backs to not have to hold their coverages so long. That could lead to more big plays. Right now, opposing QBs have all of the time they need to find the right matchups. Eventually, that's going to be a real issue for the Patriots, unless they can outscore their opponents every week, which certainly they are capable of doing.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Did you ever knew Raiders Owners Al Davis who Passed Away on October 8 at the age of 82?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I have met him on several occasions. In fact, about 10 years ago, I interviewed with him for a scouting position for the Raiders at the Indianapolis combine. I thought I would interview with him for 30 minutes. (By the way, potential scouts never meet with an owner.) I spent 3 hours with him. He quizzed me on every aspect of scouting. My philosophy. Guys I had scouted. That's vintage Al Davis. When he's interviewing a guy, he's not only trying to hire a guy, but he's trying to pull out as much information as he can. People you know, what you've done, anything that might be helpful down the road to help the Raiders' organization. I've seen him interview countless guys that really didn't make sense for the job that he was hiring because he was trying to get information out of them. I came out of my interview dazzled by his knowledge of personnel and interest. While everyone else was having dinner, he was talking football.
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
It seems like a great way to end the chat, to remember Al Davis. It might have not been the healthiest way to live, but the Raiders were his life blood. I never heard that he had a lot of outside football interests. I was fascinated that every day he was totally devoted to make his team better. I think that singleness of purpose is hard to find and we may not see it again.