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 (4:08 PM)
Gary is here!
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Yesterday ran the range of emotions. On one hand, I felt so badly for the Houston Texans and Matt Leinart. I really thought he could step in and revive his career in this offense. The other emotion is how fun it is to continue to watch these Denver Broncos win. You just feel like something magical is going on there, even though it's tough to explain. This is a great time of the year in the NFL. I've always thought that from Thanksgiving to the end of the season, we see our best football.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, do you have an official option on the Suh situation? What do you think is the appropriate punishment for him? Suspension? Fine?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Well, if he's suspended, he'll lose his game checks, which really makes it a double whammy. If I'm not mistaken, he makes about $180,000 per game. That's pretty substantial. But I think punishment has to happen. They have to turn this thing around quickly. I think the interesting question is whether the Lions should have dealt with this thing internally before the league made a decision. And, if they did, how would that be greeted in the lockerroom. Suh is a leader on this defense and a lot of these players try to emulate him. This thing has to get fixed.
Brian (NY, NY)
Gary, thoughts on tonight's game? What do the Giants need to do to win?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think the key in this game is the Giants' pass rush, which hasn't been as dominating on a weekly basis as it has been against a much improved New Orleans OL. We know the Saints are really good inside, but in the last couple of weeks they are getting better play from their tackles. If Drew Brees has a clean pocket, he can pick the back seven apart with his seam routes and also the shorter routes inside with TE Graham and RB Sproles. The Giants must make him uncomfortable and move him off his spot in the pocket.
Chargers fan here, extremely upset about how this season has fallen off a cliff, but hopefully optimistic that a new regime and attitude change is around the corner- if Norv (and AJ Smith) are given the boot, do you see San Diego as being a desired NFL destination for a Fisher/Gruden type coach?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think both guys you talk about are certainly feeling the heat. As bad as they are playing on the field, the talent level probably isn't as good as a lot of people think it is. They certainly aren't as deep as some of the past Chargers teams. I watch Philip Rivers every week and it's just hard to explain why he's playing so poorly. I also watch his receivers not separating. This passing game may be the most disappointing unit in the NFL this season. They still have considerable talent, but as mentioned, not a lot of depth. I think they need some attacking defensive players and they need to sure up their OL. In the AFC West, they will always remain competitive. But this team really doesn't look to me like a team that plays with a lot of emotion or urgency.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think this is a solid job, but probably not quite as good as people think because of the unstable situation with a new stadium and always a threat of relocating. San Diego is certainly a nice place to live. They're in a winnable division with a nice group of core players and a QB who should rebound and play well for a lot of years.
Shane (Robins AFB, GA)
Mr. Horton, did you hear the Philly fans calling for Andy Reid to be fired? Im not a PHI or Reid fan, but that's craziness. All this guy has done is keep PHI relevant for over a decade, and while I definitely think his playcalling over his tenure on 3rd/4th and short situations is suspect, firing him is not going to help PHI going forward. I say fire Castillo, bring in Sporano when he gets fired as DC, let D-Jax walk, and give Reid another year with a full offseason under his belt with all the new faces. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think he's one of the best coaches in the NFL and I hate to see fans do that. But Philadelphia has a demanding fan base. This Eagles team has really underachieved. I think there is something to be said for the fact that sometimes coaches that stay in one place for a long time sort of get stale. I think it was Bill Cowher who said that 10 years is about as long as you can stay in one place and still get your message across. I would like to think that if Reid ever left that it would be his own decision. I think that what might happen is he'll make some staff changes this offseason to shake things up. That may be enough to get this team on the right track.
North Myrtle Beach ,SC [via mobile]
Shud i keep chris johnson in on fantasy team?made playoffs & dont want him to cost me the win
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I watched a lot of film on him early in the year and he seemed very hesitant and he did not make good decisions when he hit the hole. Also, defenses were really getting wide and setting the edge, forcing him to run inside to negate his speed. However, yesterday, when he finally broke out of his slump, he seemed to really trust his blocks and he hit the hole with conviction. When he hits his full gear without overthinking, he can be very effective.
The Lions game was supposed to be the Packers first loss. Do you see them running the table now?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
First of all, I could not understand why so many people thought the Lions would beat the Packers. That Green Bay offense indoors on a fast track? That's something special to watch. I do think they can run the table because I think they are a team that does not believe in the pressure it takes to win the game. I think they will embrace an undefeated season as they get closer to it because of the rich history of the organization and what it would mean to the city. I think their toughest game could be the New York Giants. But for them to lose a game, their offense will have an off day. Even though their defense is uneven, they put up enough points each week to survive. I think what's ironic is that they will likely gain homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and I'm not totally sure with this offense that is an advantage. They are at their best in good weather and inside. I don't know if they could click on all cylinders on a bad weather day outside in January.
Just how good can this Denver defense be with Miller/Dumerville pressuring the edges for the next half-decade?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
Oh I think they can be excellent. Now they're starting to have the perfect personnel for this 3-4 defense. This is a very aggressive unit. They spend a lot of their draft last year on defensive picks. I believe they will get better as they grow together. Miller looks like he is going to be an impact player for years to come. Everybody talks about the Denver offense, but in my opinion they're winning because their defense doesn't give a lot of points and that allows their offense to stay close for those fourth quarter runs.
Do you think the play of Matt Moore has changed the Dolphins number draft priority a QB?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I think it's something they have to look at. He's played well enough to at least have a conversation to let him be the QB of the future and that would open up other options for the draft and free agency. However, if Tony Sparano doesn't save his job, you could have a new coach who might want to start a new era with his own QB. I think it's going to be an interesting decision for the organization. Where they're picking in the draft, they may have some quality QBs available.
Arian Foster missed 2+weeks, Mario Williams out for the season, Andre Johnson missed 6 games, Daniel Manning missed 3 games, Matt Schaub out for the season, Matt Leinart out for the season. Can the Texans handle anymore major injuries?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Well, they've certainly had their share of bad luck. And I love the way they've over come it. I've watched their offense after Matt Schaub was hurt. It's a QB friendly offense, built on a strong run game, which they have, and a lot of half field reads, which are fairly easy to plug in for a QB. I think Yates may have better success than we anticipate because he knows this playbook. He has fairly simple reads. But they do need to stay healthy the rest of the way. My biggest fear is how far they can go in the playoffs with just a strong run game and an aggressive defense. Although, we have seen Super Bowl winners in the past with this same formula where they didn't have to have their QB win games.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
Tonight's game is huge for the New York Giants. They need to re-gain their swagger and toughness, which I thought was missing last week. If they don't win in New Orleans, I think their playoff run is really in trouble. But it should be a very entertaining game.