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!
James (Northeast TN)
Hey Gary. Thanks for taking the time for chatting with us. Will Sundays game affect ur view of the "Brady vs Manning" debate? Hope all fans enjoy this matchup for what could be the last time they meet in playoffs.
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I think at this stage of their careers, we've seen so much that we have formed our opinions. I don't think a lot can change. Both of them are two of the best that have ever played. To be honest, I think we get too hung up on using Super Bowls as a measure for success, though it is important. I think what they are accomplishing now at this stage of their careers is classic. I don't think anything that happens Sunday would change what I think of them. In fact, I've watched a lot of film today and it would not surprise me if both of these run games become the key for success and not QB play. Wouldn't that be interesting?
Anthony Powell (Boynton Beach, FL)
Gary how big of a blow is it losing Chris Harris for this game and do they have an answer for the Patriots Running Attack they looked like World-Beaters against the Colts?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think it's a huge blow, in my mind, maybe even bigger than the loss of Von Miller, because of Harris' versatility in the secondary, one that doesn't have very good depth or matchup very well. Without him, does Champ Bailey now have to move outside, where he could be a liability?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
Will Tom Brady attack Jammer, like Philip Rivers did? If the Patriots spread out the Broncos, with multi-WR formations, two negative things could happen. 1) The Broncos are simply not deep enough when they need multi-DBs to matchup. 2) When they're in spread packages, New England could come back and run the ball when they're in softer personnel, which they quietly do a good job of.
hi Gary, first time in awhile the preseason prognisticators got it pretty accurate with the finalists - What do you see wrong with Russell Wilson in the passing game? have defenses figured him out or is he just playing poorly, or has he reached his ceiling so to speak - (Boy Luck is really good)
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
I don't think he's playing great. But when you watch the film, I think you realize that he just doesn't have enough weapons in the passing game. Without Harvin in the lineup to give them some explosiveness, the only guy that you have to stop right now is Golden Tate. That means you can concentrate on loading up in the box and stopping Marshawn Lynch. If Wilson has Harvin, it forces defenses to play more honest and it gives him another big time target to spread the ball around to. I think he'll be fine, because he's such a student of the game. I just don't think he has the weapons right now that the other guys do. And, to be honest, last week, they had to run the ball in that weather. I don't think Wilson will be a guy that worries about putting up big passing numbers, if they can run the ball effectively and play great defense.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, 49ers are 1-4 in their last 5 trips to Seattle losing by an average of 16 points a game. Besides the crowd noise will it be the Seahawks offense or defense that causes the most problems for the 49ers?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think Seattle's defense gives everybody problems. They will be aggressive with a man-under, two-deep look. That means press schemes at the LOS, with two safeties deep to take away the vertical pass. That could disrupt Kaepernick's timing and also hurt the 49ers' ability to get separation. When you throw in a young QB dealing with crowd noise impacting his ability to change plays at the LOS, it could get interesting. But, having said that, this 49ers team right now, I think, couldn't care less about what happened in the past and they enter this game with a confidence and a real swagger.
Think Nick Foles can be the franchise QB for Philly?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Yes I do. I loved the way he handled himself this year. For a young guy, he really limited his mistakes and bad decisions and that bodes well for the future. This is a QB friendly offense. He will get better and better. Before he became the starter, I really didn't think he fit what Chip Kelly wanted to run. But Foles was better at it than I thought he would be. I also think that Kelly adjusted his schemes to fit his QB. This is going to be a fun offense to run in the next couple of years.
Jeffrey (arizona) [via mobile]
Will the current roll the 49ers are on do you think that will be enough momentum to have success in Seattle were they've struggled mightily?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think they think that they can beat Seattle, whether it happens or not. I think they are full of confidence. I think they are probably the hottest of the four teams right now, which is always something to watch. I don't think playing on the road means anything to them. Having said that, Seattle also has great confidence when they are playing in their own building. So, both of these teams probably think that they can win.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - it always amazes me at how Peyton Manning can dissect a defense at the line of scrimmage and make adjustments (usually the correct ones) time after time. Is there a young QB who you think will eventually develop the same skills or is Peyton one of a kind?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
Well, I don't know that anybody will ever do it as well as he does it, because he recognizes everything. He spends so much time studying tendencies, not just of a team, but coaches, to get a feel of what they like to call. That's where the chess match begins. Of the young guys, I think Russell Wilson will be the closest. He seems to be a "gym rat" type of QB, like Peyton. He loves to watch film. He puts in the necessary time. That gives you a much better chance to make those adjustments at the line, rather than just relying on just athletic ability. And being properly prepared.
How much advantage do the Broncos have against the Patriots?
Gary Horton (4:23 PM)
I think Denver should feel a lot better about not having to play on the road. And, they face a Pats team that isn't their best, in terms of personnel, over the last several years. But, after watching both teams over the weekend, the wild card here is the Pats' run game that dominated Indy's defense. They are facing a Denver defense that's not a lot better. Although, the Broncos have shown a willingness to run the football, if the opportunities are there. I really think that this may not be the QB game that we think we're going to see. Both defenses may try to take away the passing game with a lot of sub packages and both of these QBs, as great as they are, have shown a willingness to run the football.
Can Emery turn around the Bears defense in one year like he did the offense?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
That's their challenge. Offensively, they have almost all of the pieces that they need to be successful. We know about their passing game. We know about their running game. They now have the QB locked up for a long time. This is a OL that got better over the season. Everything revolves around getting healthier and better on defense. They need a better pass rush. They need to be more stout against the run. They need better matchups and coverages on the back end. I don't know if they can fix that in one year, but they can certainly get better. This is an offense that's good enough to score enough points and only really need a defense like New Orleans, good, but not great.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - regardless of which teams win next week are we looking at a physical vs. finesse SB match up?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I think you are exactly right. I don't know that I've ever seen two games where the two teams mirror each other. The NFC is a heavyweight bout with both teams trying to knock each other out. They don't like each other and I think it will be the most physical game of the year, with probably too much chippiness. While the AFC Championship, before this week, looked to me like it could be a story of two great passing games, especially in proposed good weather. But it could be more physical than expected, if these run games become a big part of the story. But, you are right, in a Super Bowl, especially if it's in bad weather, you will have an NFC team that we know can run the football, that we know can play great defense and doesn't necessarily have to depend on the passing game to have success.
Peyton's pre-snap calls were easily audible over the TV. Is there a unwritten code that defensive players won't scream simultaneously to create their own chaos?
Gary Horton (4:30 PM)
I don't think Manning would listen to any type of defensive calls. A lot of those Manning calls are dummy calls, but you don't know what's real and what isn't real. He's constantly making those calls just to see how you react. A lot of defenses have the philosophy to not listen to him pre-snap, do what you have to do and maybe adjust at the snap. Trying to tweak while he's making his calls seems futile.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
I will tell you what you already know: these are the four best teams in the NFL and these are the two games we all wanted to see. I don't know if we've ever seen a weekend with more storylines to talk about. It certainly looks like this could be the best weekend of football we've seen in a long time. I would be really surprised if the ratings are not through the roof. It looks like, early in the week, that the weather will not be a big factor on Sunday. I think that's so important, because we want to see these gifted teams at their best.
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
When we chat next Monday, I will have started looking at both Super Bowl teams and breaking down all of the telestrations that we'll take to New York City, which will be approximately 25 things per team. It's the best week of my year, because it's all football. Our on-air guys do a great job of breaking down the plays leading up to the game.