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 (4:04 PM)
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I have no idea how to understand the AFC right now. It seems like every week we decide which team is really good and then they disappoint us. Maybe that is the NFL we have right now. No consistency. I don't understand how so many of these supposed good teams are getting beaten so often by lesser talented teams.
Kathy (San Antonio)
Forget about winning the "Suck for Luck" contest: will the Colts even win a game this season? Looking at the rest of their schedule, I think we could be looking at 0-16...time to fire Caldwell and remove Polian Jr...
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I looked at their schedule last night and it is very conceivable that they could go 0-16. I don't even see them being competitive. Usually a bad team can have one or two good days but this Colts team is so punchless I do not think they will win a game. I think the players want to win, I just don't think they will.
What are your overall thoughts on the Bears? Is this team as good or better than last years team?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I was wrong about the Bears. I didn't like them very much at the start of the season, but I love their resiliance now. They have a gameplan that works. I think the difference is the defense is starting to control games. To be honest, I think part of the reason is they have solidifed the deep middle of the defense at the safety positions which has been a real problem for a long time. This is a team that has had 29 different safety combinations since Lovie Smith took over. Now they have a duo that works.
Matthew (Columbia, NJ)
Gary, should the Eagles make changes to the coaching staff?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I don't think you ever make changes during the season. I'm sure they will look at it deeply at the end of the year. I would guess there will be some changes on defense. This is has been a good staff for a long time. Guys don't forget how to coach overnight. Andy Reid has proven he can make tough decisions.
Kyle (Lock Haven, PA)
I think by this point it's a given that the 49ers are going to win the NFC West. How far do you think they can go in the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Based on their division they are likely to have the second best record in the NFC. They could easily play at home throughout the playoffs if the Packers would happen to lose, or at least until the NFC championship game. They have a gameplan and style of play that will work in any weather conditions. They are very physical and well-coached. They do not look like a team that will get knocked out of the playoffs because of mental mistakes. I love the idea of a Green Bay-San Fran NFC championship.
Gary, the fight within the Bears in demolishing the Lions yesterday and the fight on the field were icing on the cake. The Bears are a no holds back type of team...were you surprised by their outright dominance of the Lions?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
Yes, I was a little surprised by that. I thought the Lions would be more physical than they were. If you really study Detroit they are trying to win with Stafford throwing from the shotgun and no run game. The Bears can really attack him and almost play the run on the way to the QB. I just think there is a lot of leadership and veteran pride on this Chicago team. They kind of lull you to sleep. They aren't very flashy. They just methodically beat you in a lot of areas. In my opinion they are the biggest roadblock to Green Bay going undefeated.
Why do teams always seem to be caught off guard by the Seattle Seahawks? They have beaten the Giants and Ravens, two teams considered to be high up in their conferences. They've also taken teams like the Falcons by surprise. How is it that they can give good teams a run for their money but can't beat the bad and mediocre ones?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think that is an oustanding question. I ask it myself everytime they upset someone. The only thing I can figure is that their homefield advantage may be a bigger deal than we realize. That is where most of these upsets occur. I don't see a very talented roster or enough playmakers and there is no way in my mind that Baltimore shouldn't have controlled this game. I've heard all the excuses -- hard to hear the snap count, long road trip -- but that shouldn't really matter.
Gary, with the success of Harbaugh with San Fran, do you foresee more college coaches being hired next year?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I don't know it will be a trend. There have also been a lot of college guys fail. It's important to keep in mind that Harbaugh has a bit of a NFL pedigree even though most of his success has come on the college level. He was obviously well prepared for this job. Good owners will look at everybody, but I don't forsee a run on college coaches just because of Harbaugh.
How come the Denver defense is not being talked about more with the recent wins? The Broncos are obviously in rebuilding mode, but the defense has quietly been playing well, especially in the area of pass rushing.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think we will start to hear more about the defense now because Dumerville and Miller may turn into one of the fastest pass rush combos in the NFL. To be honest, I think so much of the focus has been on Tebow that people just aren't talking about the defense. But it will happen if they keep playing well.
Gary, Do you think the packers will go undefeated? Rodgers makes it look too easy
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
Conventional wisdom says no, but I have a different feeling about this team. I think because they had so many guys on this roster that were on injured reserve when they won the Super Bowl that there is a feeling that there is a lot of work to be done and they want to be a bigger part of something special that didn't happen a year ago. Therefore, I think the focus is better than a lot of teams coming off a Super Bowl win. I also think the city of Green Bay has so much pride in the Packers that I don't see them having a bad game or going through any kind of lull. It looks like they are still having fun and playing with extreme confidence. I would be really surprised if they hit a flat day.
Which team is farther along in it's rebuilding mode, the Vikings or the Panthers?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think Carolina is clearly farther along. I'm not sure the Vikings have even started yet. I know they made the change at QB but the reason they got McNabb is they still thought they had enough good veterans to contend for a Super Bowl. That is obviously not the case. Their rebuilding won't really start until this offseason.
What did the Patriots do defensively against the Jets that they didn't do all season?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
First of all, they finally had a pass rush. That has not been the case this year. That really exposes a pass defense on the back end that gives up a lot of plays. They really got after Sanchez and forced the ball to come out quickly. That protected their DBs somewhat. It was amazing to me they played as well as they did considering the injuries and lack of depth in the secondary. If I'm not mistaken, even Edelmann was in the game at corner. Having said all that, I don't know how they can line up and play good pass defense each week with the personnel they have on hand.
In your opinion, why hasnt Cleveland at least given Tiki Barber or T.O. a tryout? They need some playmakers badly, and these guys could possibly bring a spark.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I just think they believe they are a young team in a rebuilding mode and they know they are not going anywhere this season so what is the benefit of bringing in an aging player who would take snaps away from a young player? I agree they are not dynamic on offense, but they are so far away that one or two guys won't matter.
With Frank Gore hobbled, then sidelined, Alex Smith had to carry the offense against a good Giants team. Can we finally end the talk that he is not good enough to take this team into the playoffs? He has made the big plays when his team has needed them
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think yesterday for the first time we saw the 49ers change their philosophy. They threw the ball to set up the run. Smith responded very well. His coaches do a great job of knowing his strengths and they give him plays he knows he can have success with. He was 9-for-11 on passes to TE's. Those are safe throws with low risk. When this offense is healthy at RB, they are going to be really tough to beat.
Is the success of Harbaugh and 49ers an indictment on Singletary? It's the same team!
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I hate to say anything negative about Singletary, but from Harbaugh's standpoint he has really brought an organized and well thought out scheme on both sides of the ball. When I watch these guys on film each week, I am always impressed by the innovation and unique wrinkles on both sides of the ball. The coaches challenge players with new looks and also really recognize weaknesses in opponents. Finally, I have been told by people I trust that they do a tremendous job at halftime of making adjustments. That leads to winning in the second half.
Which is the better NFC East team-- Giants or Cowboys?
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
Before yesterday I would have said the Giants. Probably today the Cowboys. I don't know that much separates them. They both want to run the ball and play good defense, have good playmakers on both sides of the ball .. but I would give the edge to Dallas because they have a favorable schedule and a chance to go on a roll while the Giants have a tough stretch of games.
Gary, judging by how the Jets struggled last night on both offense and defense, what are the Broncos chances to upset them on a short week and on the road this upcoming Thursday?
Gary Horton (4:35 PM)
I don't know how we predict anything with the Broncos right now. The short week and the travel to get ready for an offense you have never practiced against is a bit of a challenge. But the Denver scheme is so simple that I would think it wouldn't take long for the Giants to get up to speed. I just don't know how the Broncos can win without a passing game. The Giants are a different team than the Chiefs. This is a win they really need. But having said all that, I think there is a sense of optimism in Denver and on a short week they should be ready to play.
Can the Steelers make it to the playoffs and advance all the way to the SB with the O-line they have? I don't think Ben can keep taking the sacks and hits!
Gary Horton (4:36 PM)
I think the AFC is up for grabs right now. We like the Steelers on week, the Ravens the next, the Texans. But as we know, Pittsburgh has a team built for playoff weather and I think their OL is getting a little better. Big Ben is playing at a really high level. I suspect they will be absolutely contenders in January.
If Tebow wins most of his games, will the Broncos make him the QB of the future and not draft Barkley or Landry Jones?
Gary Horton (4:39 PM)
I know this will irritate some people but in my opinion I still think they will make a QB change a year from now. I like Tebow. I liked him as a football player and a person. But unless his passing dramatically improves you can not win in the NFL with his style of play. It might last a week or even five or six weeks, but I don't see how you can go into next season feeling like you have this position resolved. If the passing game improves and he becomes more accurate and makes better reads and decisions, then maybe we have something. I'd love to see it happen.
Gary Horton (4:41 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions! I have really become a believer in the 49ers in the last couple weeks. They might be the smartest and soundest team in the NFL. That is why I think they will be competitive in the playoffs. I do worry a little bit about them clinching their division so early that they get lazy in the month of December. But this coaching staff seems to be ahead of the game and have a good feel for the roster. Enjoy the game tonight and we'll talk again next week!