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)
What I thought was interesting on Sunday was how many teams ran the ball well. We thought the NFL was totally becoming a passing league, but teams like San Francisco, Houston, the Giants, the Patriots, the Redskins are all running the ball very effectively. I love to watch the innovative blocking schemes. So maybe the RB isn't a dying breed afterall.
Are you ready for a Monday Night Masacre tonight?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
Well, I've actually thought about this all day and it's almost too easy to lean on the Texans. There is no question they are the superior team. But Monday nights bring out a lot of pride in the players. While I don't think the Jets have the personnel to hang with Houston, I don't think it would surprise me if they hung with Houston or even won. If these two teams played 10 times, Houston probably wins 9 of them. The reality is that what the Jets struggle with, stopping the run, is what the Texans do best.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I will say this, we have liked Houston for the last 3-4 years, but they've always disappointed us at some point. If they now want to be an elite team, they have to win these types of games.
Rilwan A. (Bronx, NY)
Which surprise team (Vikings 4-1, Cardinals 4-1, Rams 3-2, Colts 2-2) has the longest staying power toward a playoff run?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
Well they all have serious flaws, which prevent them from becoming a good team. I guess I'm most surprised by Minnesota and they're probably the team that I think may now have staying power. We know their defense will at least stay adequate. We know they have a run game they can rely on and an MVP candidate in Peterson and a QB that doesn't make mistakes. I would like to say the same thing about the Cardinals, but my issue with them was a bad OL, no run game, and inconsistent QB play. I just don't think they can rely on the defense every weekend to win.
do you think the Bears have corrected whatever was wrong in that Green Bay game?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I'm one of those guys that's very surprised at how well they're playing. I thought they were an aging defense that was still OK but not elite. But the last couple of weeks they've proved me wrong. I love the chemistry between Cutler and Marshall. I think their run game can be really good. If Cutler has adequate pass protection, this team can play with anybody right now.
Frank (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
Gary, does Percy Harvin have a legitimate chance to win the NFL MVP or at least offensive player of the year?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I certainly think that he should get a long look, but he probably won't. He just plays a series of positions that are not easy to define, but I think he's the most versatile player in the league right now and he might be the most fun to watch. One good thing is that everybody is aware of him right now because Minnesota's success is unexpected, so that means he'll at least get a fair look.
Are you surprised with the speed Briggs has displayed on his two returns? I thought he was on the decline, but he seems to get better with age.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Yeah, he is certainly playing at a high level right now. In fact the whole defense is. I love how instinctive they are and how they recognize pass plays and jump routes. He certainly looks like he has a lot of football left in him.
Shozy (So Dak)
I've had a running argument with my brother over "half time adjustments." I say teams adjust on the fly and half time is for potty breaks, food, water and a quick speech. He says teams make adjustments that can change the game. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I think your brother is right. What happens is the coaches in the press box come down at halftime. Usually the players will relax for 5 or so minutes while the coaches get together and talk about the first half about what they want to change for the second half. They will look at some pictures. There are some adjustments that can be made. But you're also right, we'll see adjustments being made during the game. Good coaching staffs can win some games with their ability to adjust.
How much tape did you watch of Cowboys Oline is it scheme change/lack of preseason time together to get some continuity or is it that they signed 2 bad FA guards and both Tackles not playing to potential? Do think Line could improve with Costa return because of better communication. Thoughts?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think the latter is probably the truest. I looked at their interior guys and they're just not playing very well. They're getting pushed around. They do not dominate at the point of attack. I think their tackles can come around, although I'm not sure about Free. I don't know if they can get better in the interior. What surprises me is their OL coach is an excellent teacher, so that leads me to believe that the players just aren't good enough.
Darth Ditka (Sunny Florida)
NFC MVP Candidates: Matt Ryan, Meli Manning, Alex Smith, Christian Ponder, Lance Briggs. Did I miss anyone?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Yeah, I think that's a pretty good list. Right now, I would say Ryan is probably the favorite, but a guy you might want to add is Clay Matthews who has been a sack machine in the first month of the season.
Week 6 who do you think performs better in tough matchups stafford vs Philly or. Brady @ Seattle . Seattle seems to have great home field advantage but new England has greater balance than detroit on O
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I would be more concerned about the Patriots at Seattle. That's a tough cross country trip. We know how tough it is to play in Seattle and the Seahawks are playing with a lot of confidence right now. They have the kind of aggressive defense that could give Brady trouble. It would not surprise me at all to see Seattle upset them.
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I have too many question marks about the way that Philadelphia is playing right now. I don't have a lot of confidence in them.
Always love your chats. Panthers question for you. Do you see any coaching changes/gm changes during the season, or will Jerry R. wait until the end of the year ( hopefully sooner ).
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Oh, I would be shocked if they made any changes now. But I think there are changes on the horizon if this thing doesn't change. What bothers me right now is when I watched them this week, they just looked really flat. I don't think they played with a sense of urgency. That really surprises me.
Darth Ditka (Sunny Florida)
Bears lead the NFL in sacks and takeaways at the moment. Plus 5 defensive TDs. Have you ever seen a D start this nasty?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
No, I haven't. What's shocking is not only are they creating turnovers, but they're scoring. I don't know that I've ever seen that before. I'm not sure it will last, but it's pretty impressive right now.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary - Packers had a 18 point half time lead, was in the offensive line or the defense had the problems in the second half?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Well, the Colts really came after Rodgers in the second half with an aggressive package. It's not like the Packers adjusted well. They're not even close to Green Bay in terms of talent. That is a game they should have never lost. I think their lack of a run game is a real issue.
What is the key for the Jets to pull off the upset?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
For the Houston bus to get lost on the way to the game......
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
First and foremost, they have to play a clean game and not turn the ball over, which I don't know if they are capable of. They also have to play good run defense and not let the Texans control the clock. They need to slow the game down and make it low scoring, because if Houston is able to get a lead, the Jets, to me, are incapable of getting back into the game.
How bad did the Hawks defense make Cam Newton look? Wow.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
Well, they're just so fast and aggressive. They're also very physical. I think a lot of people are shocked at how fast this overall defense is, until they play them. It looks to me like Cam Newton right now is really flat.
What's your perception of Jason Garett I think he's got great potential n is building something but still think is missing pieces aka Interior Oline like we just talked about. Think Jerry n Co. Has to be patient with this new regime while Garrett fixes more of failed drafts deficiencies.You Agree?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think he is a smart coach with a very good offensive mind. I agree with you, they need to give him time but the problem may be more in the personnel. That falls on Jerry Jones' watch. I don't know if this team is nearly as talented as they think they are. The expectations may be too high.
Scooter, minny [via mobile]
What r yr thoughts on the vikings defense playing great this year?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Oh, I think their defense is playing OK because they are a veteran group. They should be a good unit. All of the surprise is in the offense and their ability to come back and the passing game. I love their young TE Rudolph. There are some pieces to build around.
What do you think of the Saints' victory? They look bust, but what are their chances of going far and showing their Superbowl side that they showed in 2009?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I'm not sure they're a playoff type team, but I think they're capable on a weekly basis of playing with anybody. I don't know if they can fix their defense well enough to be really competitive. Offensively, they have a chance to really have some good games.
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I think tonight will tell us a lot about two teams. Are the Jets as bad as they've looked? Is Houston ready to really join the ranks of the elite?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
It will be fun to watch.