Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, Gary Horton, stops in to talk some football and other news from around the league.
Horton, from Scouts Inc., works year-round on ESPN's NFL-related shows, including NFL32, where he breaks down film, earning him his Caveman nickname.
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 (4:03 PM)
In the last week of the preseason, do not expect to know much more about your team than you do right now. Most coaches will sit a lot of their veteran players. They will be unbelievably vanilla in the game plan. Teams just want to hurry up and get this game over so they can start getting ready for Week 1. So, what you see right now is probably a good sample of what your team is going to look like, although a lot of teams will try to sell that their schemes are avoided in the preseason and that's why they don't look good.
do you think miami dolphins front office(ireland) is making the right moves?
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I'm not a big fan of what they've done in the last couple of months. Getting rid of their only go-to WR Brandon Marshall. Trading a good CB like Vontae Davis and several other situations. That sends a message that they know they're not contenders right now and they're building toward a future. But I don't know what kind of message that sends to your lockerroom. The same could be said for starting Tannehill, that they're willing to live with his rookie mistakes. I might be wrong on this one, but I sense this is not a team that thinks they're ready to win now. Though, certainly, no one will say that.
Seth A (IL)
ESPN currently has a poll up asking if Terrell Owens is a Hall of Famer. Is this for real?? He HAS to be a Hall of Famer doesn't he? There are only 2 players with equal or better stats than T.O., and that's Moss and Rice. I think the fact that he has played with different teams and different QB's only adds to his impressive resume. Am I crazy to think this is a no-brainer?!?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I think he'll eventually get in, but I don't think it will be on the first ballot. When a guy like Cris Carter has to wait a couple of years, who I think is maybe the most clutch WR we have seen in the NFL, then I think it shows you there might be a little bit of a backlog at WR. Having said that, I think he gets in, but it may take 2-3 years. For some reason, it seems to me that the people who vote on the hall of fame are tougher on the WR position than a lot of others. Or maybe there are just more guys with bigger stats. I'll feel a lot better about everything when Cris gets in.
What is your impression of Russell Wilson? Will he be able to keep up this pace during the regular season?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I have a really strong theory that all of the success these young guys are having in the preseason will change dramatically when defensive coaches game plan against them int he regular season. Having said that, he seems like a really bright guy. I watched him in the preseason and the game doesn't seem to be too big for him. He adjusts on the run and adapts to situations. That may help him when he sees other schemes. But in my opinion a lot of these young QBs will come back to the pack when we start for real. Remember a year ago, we had a lockout and that led to a lot of fairly vanilla defensive schemes, which made it easy for them to play quickly. That is not the case heading into 2012.
Gary, I know Seattle signed Flynn to a decent contract this off season, but what are the chances that he winds up in Oakland or Miami after this year? Especially if Tannehill doesn't prove to be as effective as they think he can be. With the GB connections I'd have to think those would be logical spots for him to land...
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think the key there is after this year is over. Nothing will happen now. And even though Wilson has been named the starter, there's no guarantee that he can hold that job through the season. I think they would probably wait until after the season to make a decision like that. I find it very interesting that as hot as Flynn was in free agency, it seemed like no one else really went after him. Even Miami, who had a relationship with him, did not pull the trigger. Maybe we're basing everything on a game or two when he looked good and maybe he's not the player we thought he was. I'm not sure what the right answer is. I still think he'll get a chance to show his skills before this season is over.
Who should the Jets start at QB? This is getting embarassing
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I don't think that one's even close. You have to start Mark Sanchez. I love Tim Tebow for a lot of things, but I just don't see a lot of improvement in his game. The INT he threw this last game was horrible. It was into triple coverage and it's a throw an NFL QB can't make. I personally think the Jets are in real trouble. I think the defense and special teams will be fine, but I think the offense will be a disaster. They don't have enough weapons at WR and the pass protection will be inconsistent. I don't think they'll get quality play at QB. They can say all they want about hiding a lot of their offense during the preseason, but when you watch them, they just don't look crisp and on the same page. I just don't see a lot of explosiveness to the offense. I hope I'm wrong but there is just not a lot to hang your hat on through three games.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Let me add something else regarding the Jets. They talk about how effective the Wild Cat can be with Tebow. We know he's a great runner and he can run that spread option. But the thing that I think a lot of people are forgetting is that the Wild Cat is at its best when the personnel on the field can't substitute. In Miami, Ronnie Brown could move from RB to QB and they could move the QB out wide. They could run all of the plays without allowing the defense to substitute. That won't happen with Tebow. When he comes into the lineup, the defense will be able to match personnel. The element of surprise just won't be there. I would feel better about this Wild Cat if Tebow were an offensive regular, say lining up at H-back.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
What's your take on Denver's defense? Is the secondary improved enough or will it continue to be a liability and struggle as it did last year?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I think the defense is getting better. I think their front seven will be pretty good. I worry about them a little bit at the safety position, where I think they're vulnerable to passes between the hashes. I am really concerned about their lack of depth. As I study their roster, there is not a large margin of error. A big key is that Peyton Manning is going to have to be so productive on offense that he builds an early lead which forces the opposition to play from behind and that allows the defense to tee it up and attack, which used to be a big key for success for Manning in Indy.
How long will the NFL stick with the substitute refs?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I don't know how they can go much longer, because I just don't see much support from coaches, players and fans. They've gotten away from it in the preseason, though it looks inconsistent to me. It's important to keep in mind that this is such a balanced league that one loss can send you home and keep you out of the playoffs and that could be 2-3 critical plays a game that the officials miss. Now, you're messing with coaches, families, etc. I know that sounds corny, but guys can get fired. It becomes a huge problem when we get to Week 1. Another thing I worry about on a personal level is that players may take advantage of these inexperienced officials in terms of hits, contact, etc. to see what they can get away with. That's exactly what the league is trying to avoid. I think it will become a much bigger issue in the next 10 days because much like players, even if we get them back by Week 1 or 2, won't it take them a couple of games to get back to game speed? Then you're talking about a quarter of the season.
It's preseason and I am fully aware of this. But my Chiefs sure does not look good these last 2 games (vs. Rams & Seahawks). They don't even look like they're taking it seriously out there. With Hali
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I'm probably most surprised that their defense isn't playing with more tempo. They just seem to be making a lot of mistakes. As you mention, there isn't a sense of urgency. I saw one report where Romeo Crennel gave some thought about giving the DC duties to someone else. I don't think it will happen, but I think there is cause for concern. For me, for the Chiefs to win, it has to be with a dominating defense and a strong run game and not have to depend on Cassel every week. I'm not sure I see that. That AFC West is going to be competitive, if not elite. Those four teams are really bunched together.
Do you think Chris Johnson can bounce back this season?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I was concerned about it earlier in the preseason. I felt a little better about it in their last game. I know the skills are there. I'm a little concerned that he tries to bounce everything to the outside and just doesn't run very effective between the tackles. Having said that he's a speed back who is great in space. So, I think he will make big plays on stretch plays and sweeps. I think the area where he can really help this offense is as an outlet WR. I think he caught 57 passes a year ago. This guy in space can be a real weapon, especially with a young QB that needs to make easy, high percentage throws.
If Dez Bryant breaks on of his commandments laid down by the Cowboys is he history in Big D?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think Jerry Jones is at the end of his rope with Bryant. I do believe if he breaks these rules that he will trade him or release him. What is encouraging to me is that Bryant seems to be OK with these rules. To be honest, he has notbody to blame but himself. For a grown man to have to be in this situation is embarrassing. The Cowboys are protecting a huge investment. They're smart enough to know that they can't win without Bryant. He needs to have a monster year. Hopefully these rules can get him in a groove where in the near future he can again be on his own. But who knows.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
This is always a fun time for diehard NFL fans, because even though we don't necessarily care about Week 4 in the preseason, we all get to do our fantasy drafts. I think sometimes that's as important to a fan as following his favorite team. We are full speed ahead. I think the only intrigue we'll see in the next 10 days is what notable players will get cut. There are a lot of hard decisions by teams, today and next week to get down to their final rosters.