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!
Why are the Jets such an up and down team?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I think they finally figured out exactly who they are. Their defense, for the most part, has been solid the entire season, especially up front. Their pass defense in coverages has been up and down, especially when offenses spread them out and force them into a lot of sub packages. Offensively, they now realize that if they run the football and try to be physical, while limiting Geno Smith's passes to short and safe, they have the chance to win with their defense. It's a nice formula and you have to give Rex Ryan a lot of credit for getting this team to play hard almost every week. How do you explain getting pounded by the Bengals, but on either side of that embarrassing loss, they beat New England and New Orleans?
Tony (Richmond, CA)
What are your thoughts on the Ritchie Incognito mess in Miami? Do you think the Dolphins will release? Can this guy even return to that locker room after the racial slurs and bullying/extortion he directed toward Jonathan Martin have now come to light?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I don't think there is any chance Incognito returns to Miami. My guess is he will be hard pressed to get a job in the NFL. What he is quoted with is toxic. He already has a reputation that doesn't help. He crossed the line embarrassingly for this organization. In my mind, this will become an even bigger story as NFL teams really have to look at what's going on inside their lockerrooms. I can not imagine as many coaches, trainers, etc. that are around these players that this situation was not identified and red flagged.
Darryl (Fullerton (CA))
Do you have a sneaky suspicion that the 49ers are going to win it all this year?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I would agree that is a possibility. After watching everybody this weekend, and seeing elite teams Seattle and New Orleans struggle, I'm not sure we have quite the super teams we thought we did in the NFC. This looks to me like a year where a team will emerge in November that none of us expected and go on a run. There is a lot of football left to be played. One other thought...I don't know if I've ever seen a year where perennial powerhouse organizations are basically out of the playoff hunt in early November. Teams like the Giants, Texans, Steelers, maybe the Ravens, Falcons. Is this good for the league? Some new teams will take their place but do we need these franchises to stay relevant?
What's your take on the game tonight? Packers off to an early lead, and Bears are playing catchup all night? Give us a final score prediction.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think the Bears' injuries are a huge factor. Without their QB, You would think we would see a conservative gameplan designed for low scoring. But I'm also concerned about the Bears defense. With all of their injuries, creating all of those turnovers to keep them in a game seems less likely. Aaron Rodgers now has balance with a run game and passing game. But, it may rain heavily tonight in Green Bay, which could be an interesting factor and slow this game down.
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
It certainly looks like a Green Bay game.
What do the ravens to make the playoffs
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Each week, I keep looking for them to break through. I really liked this team coming through the offseason. But they're just not making any explosive plays on either side of the ball. The running game looks like a shadow of itself. I don't see the defense running the game. They look like a team that will struggle to score each week. Winning or losing will come down to 3-4 key plays or mistakes. I am shocked at how small their margin for error looks. Unless Cincinnati lays a major egg and comes back to the pack, we will have one team come out of the AFC North.
So is Tom Brady back or are the Steelers just and old and terrible defense now?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I watched the film today and I think it's a combination of both. The return of Gronk is a huge factor, because he draws so much attention to the middle of the field that finally Brady's outside receivers are getting good one-on-one matchups, which they haven't had most of the season. Brady really seems to start getting his sight adjustment packages working with these young guys. Having said that, the Steelers looked slow in both coverage and reactions, especially on the back end of the defense. The one thing I noticed is they are no longer playing great run defense, which means that opposing offenses have good second and third down situations, which gives quality QBs a lot of options in play calling.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - will the next 2 games tell us if the Panthers are a legitimate playoff team?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
You're probably right. Although, as much as you can start to like them now, and I look at them as that NFC team that could get hot and be a real factor in the playoffs, keep in mind they have teased us before and just when we jump on their bandwagon, they disappoint us. However, I think their defense is too good to fade. I think their offense under Cam is playing with more consistency and not as reckless as in the past. That's a good thing.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi, Nick Foles throws for 7 touchdowns against the Raiders assuring that he'll finish the year as starting quarterback, what'll happen to Michael Vick? And what corrections do the Eagles need to make on defense to get back into the NFC East playoff hunt?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I don't think it assures it, because we've seen the roller coaster production of Foles in the past. This is not new. When I watched the film today, it looked like a 7-on-7 drill at times. The one thing Foles has is really good accuracy when he has time to throw the ball. The Raiders gave him plenty of time and a lot of space. While it was a very impressive game, I don't know if it necessarily means he's the future. I still think injuries or inconsistent play could throw Vick into the mix. I might be in the minority, but I still think Vick is such a good fit for this offense. But maybe his time is just running out.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Are you discounting the Browns chances at the AFC North already? They own a victory, remind you a fairly dominating one, against the Bengals.
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I don't think they are a playoff contender, because I just don't think they have enough at the QB position to be consistent. But I love the way their playing and they have more pieces than most people realize. They are closer to being a contender than a lot of people think. It is so disappointing that Hoyer got hurt, because I thought he was really an interesting guy to watch and see if he could be their future.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Does KC need to sweep Denver in order to have a chance at AFC home field - Denver's schedule lighten's up while the Chiefs have a few other tough games in the 2nd half?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Yes, I do. And as good as the Chiefs are, I just don't know if they're equipped to matchup with the Broncos and their ability to score points. I would be very surprised if the Super Bowl doesn't wind up going through Denver.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, Just how bad is Tampa Bay blowing a 21 point lead and losing in overtime to Seattle 27-24, is it an offense, defense or coaching problem?
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
I think it's the fact they beat a really good team at home that slept through three quarters and finally woke up. I think the Bucs played as well as they could in what seemed like it should be an impossible environment. Even though the Seahawks team seems to play down to the level of their competition and we don't get the level we expect each week, they are also a very mature team who seems to know when to turn it on when they have to and make just enough plays.
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
One note that I took away from this weekend's games: as many teams as we think are probably out of the playoffs, everybody continues to play hard and inferior teams took better teams right down to the wire. I think that speaks well for the integrity of our game.