Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" -- and Insider -- 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!
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will Calvin Johnson show Matt Elam how old he is, just like Megatron did Dez Bryant at Ford Field?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think it makes absolutely no sense. I've never understood why guys chirp before a game. I don't think it has anything to do with a players' approach, especially when you have the status that Calvin does. Do you think he really cares what an opponent says?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I just don't get why guys talk. It seems like a lot of times it's guys that aren't always the stars.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Will Dez Bryant ever get it? I know it was tough loss, but you never abandon/quit on your teammates?
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
Even though the Cowboys are doing damage control today, I think it's absolutely unacceptable. I don't know how you can allow a player to do that, without some form of punishment. I think there was over a minute and a half left in the game. What if a Green Bay kneel down resulted in a fumble and he was in the locker room? His excuse was he didn't want anybody to see him cry? There are a lot of other people on that sideline that had to deal with this bitter loss. I just don't get it. I know some people think it's no big deal, but to me if you're a leader you need to be there right to the end, with your teammates, win or lose.
Landon Gailbreath (Iowa)
If the Packers make the playoffs with out Aaron Rodgers, should the Packers try to play him in the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
Well, at this point, I think the whole situation is really confusing. The Packers are still in the playoff race. Rodgers thinks he's ready to play and they need him. So, to me, it's a day-to-day deal, playoffs or not. And when he's ready, he'll play. The medical people feel that he's not ready to play. They have the final decision.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - do you think it is easier for a head coach with a background in offense to establish an above average D or vice versa?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I think it can certainly work effectively both ways. But I think in today's sophisticated offenses, a head coach that can design that offense and can maybe call plays has a chance to beat some people. A strong offensive minded coach can find someone he trusts to run his defense, as long as they share the same philosophies. In today's NFL, if you're a defensive minded head coach and you're not running your own offense, you can run into some problems.
Gary, what are you seeing in the film that's different this year compared to last year for RGIII? Is it more mechanical or mental?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
Well, I think the lack of the read option has really changed the looks of this offense. When he was a threat to run a year ago on the edge, it also opened up the inside run game. It gave him a lot of chances to run or throw and make big plays with his feet. Now you're asking him to be a pocket QB, and he really hasn't done that before. At times he looks uncomfortable in reading the defense. He forces the ball into coverage. And I think his lack of a great pass blocking OL certainly leads to more hits than he should take. I think these are all correctable things. I think he can become a good pocket QB, but I think it's important to remember that when you have the read option possibility, it forces defenses to widen and it gives you more passing windows. Right now, good defenses can squeeze this offense, because they don't do a lot to the outside.
What's the key to beating the Seahawks in the playoffs?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I don't know if anybody can, because it looks like all of their games will be at home. Certainly Russell Wilson doesn't look like he's not going to fade. I also think this run game is getting better as it's getting healthier. They've proven that they can fill in backups without losing a beat on defense. What if Percy Harvin is healthy for the playoffs. I think the only chance anybody has of coming into Seattle and beating them is a team like the 49ers. They can play a physical game, control the clock and limit possessions. But that's easier said that done. One thing that I've noticed on film in watching the Seahawks, is they are the deepest roster from top to bottom. That means the guys on the back end can contribute. They look to me like a team that can withstand injuries. They also have the luxury of a deep rotation at almost every position.
Can Brandon Marshall & Alshon Jeffrey make their way into best receiving duos ever with another year like this?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think they're a lot closer to being the best duo in the league right now, than most people think. I've watched this offense a lot in the last couple of weeks. I think the Bears, in a short time, may be the most explosive passing game in the NFL. Marshall and Jeffrey are big, strong guys with great passing abilities. They're also deep threats. When you add Martellus Bennett, who is really a WR in a TE's body, and you have Matt Forte coming out of the backfield, you have four big time targets, you have a great play caller in Marc Trestman and you have two QBs who can get them the ball. All of these guys can elevate to get the ball. And, they are getting better production from their OL than I dreamed they would this early.
Gary, what are your thoughts on Tannehill? Seems to be really improving each game.
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I think he's one of the pleasant stories of this season. When you look at Miami on film, they don't really excite you in any area. You know that they have an OL that has struggled all season. And yet, Tannehill has done a great job of recognizing defenses, especially his presnap reads. He has underrated mobility to either get outside the pocket or bootleg. And his decision making has been really good. I don't think Miami is close to where they are right now if it's not for him.
Who should be Bears QB?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think Cutler has the bigger upside and stronger arm. After yesterday's game, I think it's an even better decision. It gives Cutler three games to get back into the game, if they make the playoffs. Having Cutler watch McCown and seeing how well he plays in this offense and realizing that if he listens, he can be very successful in this scheme.
Josh Gordon or Dez Bryant?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Josh Gordon has had the flashier year, but Dez Bryant has done it longer. The thing you have to like about Gordon, his success is coming with virtually no help. He doesn't have another elite receiver to take coverage away. He doesn't have a running game now. And his QB throwing him the ball is a week-to-week proposition. You wonder what he could do if he were in the right offense.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Gary, what do you think happened to the Eagles yesterday? I was really surrpised that the Vikings won so handily.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I'm in the same category as you are. I think their loss showed us that when their defense plays poorly, they are really in trouble unless their offense has a huge day. In this case, because they got behind early, they could not run the ball with McCoy like they usually do. Also, QB Nick Foles just had an off day. He overthrew guys. He didn't seem to be on the same page with his WRs. And he just wasn't very sharp, even though the numbers were good. I think we've been teased a little bit in recent weeks to maybe like this team more than we should, because we saw some improvement with their defense. But that wasn't the case yesterday and they looked like an average team. I have to say I love the way Matt Cassell played for the Vikings.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
I think tonight's Monday night game is really interesting, because it finally shows us if the Detroit Lions will continue to tease us or if they will go out and win their division. On the other hand, the resiliency and character of the Ravens is always fun to watch, as they continue to win games that you don't think that they should. Any time this late in the season you have a Monday night game with big playoff implications, it's a good thing. And how about we look ahead to next week? The final game at Candlestick Park. What a way for ESPN to finish the season on Monday night.