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)
I continue to be amazed at how many riveting storylines we continue to see every week in the NFL. We are all so blessed to be a part of this game.
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
The scene at Indianapolis was emotional with Chuck Pagano and on the field, to have a young QB that is probably playing at as high of a rookie level that we've never seen before. And who would have thought a few months ago that Peyton Manning would be in the discussion for MVP of the league? It goes on and on.
The Bears defense has been playing lights out and now the offense lights up Tennesee big time? Are they the team to beat in the NFC ?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I don't think we can expect them to play to this level every week, but I think what makes them really dangerous is this defense and special teams are not going to fall apart. That will keep them in a lot of games. I happen to think the offense will get a lot better. I love the chemistry between Marshall and Cutler. This is an underrated running game. I believe at the end of the season that this offense will be doing its part. I always worry about a team that has a considerable amount of age. Do injuries become a factor? Do they tire at the end of the season? But they are certainly a fun team to watch right now.
Bradley (Dublin ,CA)
I see all the talk about Jason Garrett being on the hot seat. Could it be that the Cowboys are just overrated, as always, and that Jerry Jones is the REAL problem?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I don't think there is any question that there are a lot of people that see it that way. I'm not sure the talent level is where they think it is. There is the injury factor. But I do think the playcalling and some of the decisions have been a little risky, but I don't think that is the reason why they're losing. I just don't know if they're good enough and they don't have the depth they once had. It may be a personnel problem.
With Sean Payton's contract being voided, is it a for gone conclusion that he goes back to the Saints? Are other teams GMs licking their chops waiting to make this guy a huge offer?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
Oh, I think that's going to become a huge story at the end of the season. I think he will wind up back in New Orleans, because of a lot of loyalty, but he will certainly have other opportunities, whether it's true or not, Dallas will be a huge story, especially if the Cowboys continue to struggle. Keep in mind that he now lives in Dallas and his kids are there. This will be one of those stories that will continually be stirred up. I'm not sure how he will play it. Part of you wants him to squelch any rumors and express his loyalty to New Orleans, but he might look at it as an opportunity to look around. You just don't know.
Evreyone was hating on Cam the last few weeks. RG3 even knocked him. I say the jury's still out on him. What do you think?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think what happened is we probably raised the bar too high after his rookie season. It's always important to understand that when coaches have a lot of film on a player, they can really adjust in the offseason. I think that's what Cam is seeing now. I think it's also confusing that even though he should have a dominating run game at his disposal, he really doesn't. That's forcing him to make too many plays. I don't think people are down on him as a player, because they see the skill set and know eventually that he will produce. I think a lot of people just don't like the way he handles adversity.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
They may be reacting more to that than his play on the field. I think he's going to be fine and he'll clean some things up. He's a rare talent.
Can Green Bay make a run at the Bears? Injuries seem to be mounting.
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I don't think there's any question that Green Bay will make a serious run. I would almost tend to think that the Bears could fade a little more than the Packers going down the stretch. Luckily for Green Bay they get a bye this week. Hopefully that will get some people healthy. I think their young defensive players are getting younger. If they can have some semblance of a run game like they did this weekend, that will improve them dramatically. But I do not think that they are the dominating team they were a year ago. I think their margin for error is a lot smaller. With Aaron Rodgers you're never out of it.
The Chiefs are terrible. Do they clean house top to bottom at seasons end and how do they address the QB problem?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that they'll clean house and start over. Obviously a lot of the personnel decisions have not worked out. There are a lot of high draft picks on this team that are not playing up to that draft level. I think the biggest problem is the mistakes being made at the QB position. I watched this team on film last week and they are so sloppy. We know about the turnovers, but they are careless. They make mistakes. They don't communicate. They just don't look to me like they have a chance to be competitive. I can't imagine them going into Pittsburgh next Monday night and getting the Steelers a strong game. It's probably unfair to say this team has quit, but sometimes it seems you can question the effort.
Seattle made Christian Ponder look just awful. Should we expect more of the same against the Jets?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I thought before the season that Seattle had one of the most underrated defenses in the NFL. They are good on all three levels. They're extremely physical and they're a terrific matchup defense. I believe their pass rush will absolutely get after Mark Sanchez. I think their secondary will play press schemes and blanket the Jets WR. The crowd noise and atmosphere in Seattle is not something that the Jets will enjoy seeing. They might not be quite the same team on the road, but I think this Seattle team can beat any team in the league when they're at home. I think they could blow out the Jets.
Do you really think the Eagles have a chance to win tonight @ NO?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Yes I do, because they still have a talented roster. Until you watch a lot of film, you don't realize how poorly this Saints defense is playing. There are plays to be made, but you have to give the ball to McCoy and you have to have a big night. This game may come down to the pass rush. Which QB has to get the ball out? Which QB takes some hits? Which QB turns the ball over due to pressure? Neither defense has lived up to what we expected, especially the Eagles, but it all comes down to which QB can make some plays.
Patrick (San Francisco)
Do you think Pittsburgh's OL can be the best in the league in a year or two? Gilbert (Starks), Colon, Pouncey, DeCastro (Foster), and Adams is pretty strong.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
Yes I do. I thought the OL after this last draft was one of the most upgraded units in the NFL. This is a young group. They are very talented and they are really being helped right now by that short passing game that is specializing in yards after catch. Big Ben is getting the ball out quickly, so they don't have to hold their blocks in a lot of 7-step drop situations. I also like the fact they are getting production help in the run game, even though they are doing it with a variety of backs. After I watched this team yesterday, I really think if they are healthy at the end of the season, especially at RB, they are going to be a tough out in the playoffs, because they can control the clock with the run game and their conversions on third down; they can control the clock in cold weather; and those things counteract the aging defense. This is not a team you want to play in January.
Has Russell Wilson been the best draft pick thus far in terms of value in comparision to where he was picked? What do you think of his progression as a passer since week 1?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I have been very much surprised at his progression. I didn't think he should be the starter at the beginning of the season. I thought it would be Matt Flynn and Wilson would be the backup. But the more I've watched his film in recent weeks, I really like how he's handled himself. Earlier in the season, he had a simplified offense and wasn't asked to do a lot. Now I see him reading his progressions. He knows when to dump off the ball. His accuracy has improved. He just really seems comfortable in this offense. It's probably the most surprising transformation I've seen by a young player this year. We don't even talk about his size any more.
What has been the differene the past three weeks for the Steelers Def? They are shutting down some pretty strong offenses.
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I watched some film last week and I thought they were getting really good play out of their safeties. We know Troy Polamalu has been out a lot, but I think Clark and Allen are really playing some solid football. While they have a lot of injuries, they just don't beat themselves. I think a big part of their success is their offense has been so good, as we've talked about, on third down, that gives them great time of possession. They don't have a lot of three and outs on offense. The fewer snaps this defense has to play, the better off they are. I think we're seeing that right now, that they are not having to carry the offense.
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
You might look at tonight's Monday night game and say these are two teams not going anywhere, but this is an important game for both teams. The winner has a chance to really revive their season - though I don't necessarily know if that means playoffs. The loser of the game could fade away and that's the end of their season. There is tremendous pressure for both of these teams to win this game. That's why they will play with a lot of emotion.