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, breaking 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!
Could Brady throw for 4000 yards and 30 TDs to random people they find on the street? He is making it look that easy this preseason.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
He is certainly capable of it. He has a way of making every receiver look great. But I think the Pats really look to run the ball a lot more this sesaon. They won't have the two TE sets they've had in the past. We'll see more offensive balance and a physical run game. That could cut down on his passing numbers, even though he's playing as well as he ever has.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - now that preseason is halfway through have you seen any teams that make you think they might be better (or worse) than initially expected?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
I'm starting to warm up a little bit on the Philadelphia Eagles. They look like an offense that can really score a lot of points. They will have to, to cover up a bad defense. I also think a lot of us, including myself thought Baltimore would take a step back with all of their losses. But the more film I watch, the more I think they'll be very competitive. I don't think they're in a rebuilding mode. This is going to be a good football team in a balanced AFC North. I suppose the team that will improve the most is the Chiefs.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
A lot of teams have looked bad in the first few games, but when you're looking at that, you have to be careful. We will have a much better feel for these teams after this weekend. This is a game that the organizations look at as almost a regular season contest.
What are your impression of Trestman's offense so far? No pre-snap penalties and wasting of TOs a plus!
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
That is going to be one of Trestman's strengths. He is a very smart guy and I think he will really coach under control. I like what they're doing on offense, of getting the ball out quicker, not having a lot of deep, slow developing plays. I also think he will really commit to the run game and use Forte as an outlet receiver. My biggest concern right now is an offensive line that I think is in flux and has a lot of work to do. I also worry about Cutler still focusing on Marshall and nobody else. He has to find other weapons.
nate (fayetteville, arkansas)
Hey Gary. Can you give me a barometer on Ryan Mallet's progress and value (will he start somewhere next year?). He has big upside and should have learned SOMETHING from Brady's tutelage. Thanks.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I think he's still a developing player. With Brady, he doesn't get a lot of snaps. But I think he has a nice upside and would be a good trade option, especially if a QB from another team went down. But I don't think the Pats can afford to trade him right now with the way that Tim Tebow has looked. My guess is they'll keep him throughout the season and then try to move him in the offseason if they get the right offer.
Dennis (San Jose)
Does Seattle take the NFC West this year, or does Harbaugh's 49ers hold off Pete Carrolls Seahawks yet again?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
This is the best race in the NFL right now. They are two elite teams without a lot of weaknesses. I think they'll battle right down to the wire. Keep in mind that St. Louis and Arizona will probably be better than we thought. This will not be an easy division to win. In my opinion, either SF or Seattle winds up being the NFC Super Bowl participant.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, With the recent injuries in the first two weeks of the preseason & keeping the players out till week one of the regular season, will the NFL cut the preseason games down to 2 or 3 in the future?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think that is something that has to continue to be looked at. I know a lot of the players feel that the preseason is too long. With such strong year round programs now, these players never get out of shape. They know the playbook. They are ready quicker than they ever have in the past. The only thing that a shorter preseason does is hurt your chances to look at the fringe players. But in all honesty, you've got a training camp to get a look at those guys. And since a lot of teams are not practicing in pads and not doing a lot of tackling, it sort of throws out the theory that a long training camp is necessary to get physically ready for a regular season game.
Is it time to start to worry if you are a Broncos fan? Poor showing against Seattle, multiple injuries on offensive line, and looming 6 game suspension of Von Miller...
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think they're a really good team, but I would definitely be concerned. Their preference is to run three WR sets, but when they have done that in the preseason, opposing defenses have come at them hard on the pass rush and forced them to two TE sets. Their edge pass protection must be better. On the other side, when you take away Miller and Dumerville and probably 30 sacks, I don't know how you replace it. When the guys up front don't get pressure, it absolutely exposes a so-so secondary in coverage. Remember, when Miller comes back, if he gets 6 games, it will still take him another 2-3 games to get back to full speed. That means half a season is gone.
Does Jay spread the ball around this year or do you think it's still Brandon all the time?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
It can't be just the Brandon Marshall show, because defenses then rotate their coverages to his side. I watched a lot of film on Cutler last year and what you see is a lot of sight adjustments in the passing game. It seemed like none of the other receivers consistently read the same thing Cutler did in terms of coverage, when that happens, he has a tendency to not even look at them. That's why he throws so much to Marshall, because he sees the same thing. But they now have a new weapon in TE Bennett. And they will use RB Forte as an outlet receiver out of the backfield as well.
Are the Vikings serious playoff contenders or am i just getting my hopes up?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
It all comes down to Christian Ponder. I never expected him to play as well a year ago. And I never expected AD to have the production he did. If he's more consistent and doesn't put them in holes and their defense holds up, they'll be OK. This looks like an NFC North with a lot of balance and any one of the four teams could win it.
My feeling regading the Redskins is they are an 11 win team with RG3 and a 9 win team if Cousins plays extensively. Whats your feeling?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I thought early in the offseason, they would take a step back this year. I didn't think they were as good as their record indicated. But in the offseason, I watched a lot of their film, especially on their option read and it is so well designed, I think it will be hard to stop both running and passing. The big key for them is their defense. I don't like their secondary, especially at safety. And unless they can mount a good pass rush, those guys will be very vulnerable in the passing game. This team will have score a lot of points to win.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
While preseason is just preseason, I am encouraged how much sharper the Browns have appeared compared to seasons past. They don't look like the same old double digit loss team. Tough schedule, tough division, and injuries temper my excitement. Does Chud avoid a losing season in his inaugural year?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I don't know if they're good enough to be a .500 team, but they will be improved. When you watch Norv Turner's offense, it fits Brandon Weeden perfectly. A lot more seam routes and vertical throws, instead of the short routes in the West Coast offense that we saw last year. This is a better defense than a lot of people realize. I think they're still behind all three of the other teams in the AFC North. If I were a Browns fan, I'd be encouraged and hopefully for the future.
curt (Trappe, Md)
It was a bad offensive showing by the Ravens first O, Ray Rice looked very average does this mean more touches for Pierce who was the better back in the playoff run?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
Rice is a savvy veteran and he'll be fine when the regular season starts. But I do know that the coaches want to give Pierce more touches to not only take advantage of his explosiveness, but to also keep Rice fresher late in the season. I don't worry about Flacco. I don't worry about the run game. But I do worry about the passing game. With Pitta out and Boldin gone, I think they are really missing a physical, inside presence in the passing game, especially on third down. I think they're still looking for a second WR to team with Torrey Smith. I don't see a very effective passing game in the subpackages, unless they develop quicker than we thought. I do like what I see on defense. I think they'll be a lot better than what most of us thought at the beginning of the offseason.
Brandon (San Antonio Tx)
How do you feel about the Eagles chances of making the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I don't feel great about them having that much success, because this defense really has a long way to go. I don't like the back end of it, in terms of coverage. I think they'll give up a lot of big plays. If this offense struggles and has a lot of three and outs with the volume of plays that they run, that could further expose this defense. I do love what I've seen on offense. I think they will be exciting and be in a lot of shootouts. When I look at the NFC East, I don't see a lot of clear cut favorites. Any one of these four teams could win the division. I don't think this division is nearly as strong as it used to be.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
As we've said before, this is the week you really want to watch these games. Most of the starters will play deep into the third quarter. We'll see a lot of the schemes you'd expect once the season starts. You'll see a lot of what you'll see in Week 1 of the regular season, because Week 4 is a throw away week.