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!
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
I arrived in New York yesterday to start our week of shows. We all hope the weather doesn't become the biggest story of the week. The more film I watch, these are two really talented teams with marquee players and I just hope we get to see them at their best. I'm ready for your questions!
What's the most important matchup of Sunday's game?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
I think the one that intriques the most if who Richard Sherman will cover. A lot of people think he will line up against Demaryius Thomas in single man but I think he will cover Julias Thomas a lot more than people realize. He has great size and when he flexes or goes out wide, he is really an impossible matchup for a LB. Sherman makes sense because he is a big, physical corner. I also think something to watch closely is Seattle's Max Unger against Detroit DT Terrence Knighton who has been almost impossible to block in recent weeks. If he can dominate inside it really impacts the Marshawn Lynch run game which is so important to Seattle.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - do you think the Broncos might try and establish their running game early even if isn't totally successful in order to have Seattle think about making adjustments to their defense?
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I think what Peyton always does it take what the defense gives him. If Seattle sits back in deep zones to take away the vertical pass game, Peyton will run the ball as he has in the past. But I don't think the Broncos are overly concerned about establishing anything if it isn't already there. I think this becomes a fascinating chess match between Peyton and the Seattle defense, but I do agree that if Seattle decides to play cover schemes, we may see Denver run the ball more than we have seen. I just don't think they will go in trying to establish it regardless of what Seattle does.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What did you think of the Pro Bowl?
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I think it was a step in the right direction because the players seemed to be a little more excited and they all of a sudden had teammates they had never played with before and maybe that made the effort better. But I don't think it is yet on the level we would like to see. I think there is a thought process now that everybody would like to "save" the Pro Bowl so I think they will continue to tweak it and create more interest. I just don't know how you are ever going to get these players to treat it like a real game.
Do you see the Super Bowl as basically the superiority of the Denver offense against the dominance of the Seattle defense?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I think that is what the initial thought process will be. But I think in recent weeks I've changed my thinking because I'm not seeing a Denver defense that is much better against the run. They are holding their own. That makes it interesting against the power run game of Seattle. I also think a big part of this game will be Denver's ability to control Wilson when he scrambles. We know he can run when he leaves the pocket, but I think he is more dangerous when he is throwing while on the run as the receivers break off their routes and it really forces a defense to be disciplined and focused in coverage. Right now Wilson is not dazzling you in the passing game, but some of those explosive plays are coming off scrambles.
Hey Gary, what do you make of the situation in Miami where seemingly no one wanted the GM position?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I have not studied the Miami situation closely enough to know. What I do know is that there is some concern that the stability within this staff is not great. That could possibly discourage a GM from coming into a situation that may be a little unstable. But having said that, this is a pretty good football team. The guy that left as GM, Jeff Ireland, had a lot of detractors, so this is a huge set of shoes to fill, at least from a public perception.
Mike P (greater KC Metro)
Why is everyone complaining about a cold weather Super Bowl, some of the greatest game in history happened in cold weather and snow; the Ice bowl, brady's tuck game against raiders. i remember the Lions Eagles game this year over 95% of the games this year
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
Because those were not week-long events. It was a 3-hour game. Trust me. I'm here for 8 days and I have been cold the whole time I've been here. One of the great things about the Super Bowl is all the different parties, activities, functions, etc. Many of them are outside. When it is really cold like this, that's a tough thing to do. If you throw in ice or snow, it's just hard getting around town. We experienced that in Dallas. We were lucky to have great weather in Indy. We know what a great city NY is, but all the fun things you can do at the Super Bowl are conducive to good weather.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - does Seattle have to disguise it's D much more in this game and do they introduce a few new wrinkles that have not been seen because of Peyton Manning?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I don't think we will see any new wrinkles and I don't think they will be able to do anything Peyton isn't prepared for. This is a unique Seattle defense. They don't have to trick you. Having said that, they play more of a variety of coverages I realized until I really dug into the tape. They can play a Cover 1, 2 or 3 in the back end with man press underneath, they can play combo coverages with zone on one side and Sherman on the other, etc. They have many different looks, but Peyton has seen them all. This is not a defense I think will try to trick him. They are just going to line up and say "try and beat us."
Why do you think Denver, who struggled on defense at times this year, was so effective against new England for most of the game?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
Knighton finally started to come up big. They became much stronger inside vs. the run. They still don't have a great edge defense because Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil aren't around. They have become a DL that wins by being physical and punching you in the mouth, with occassional pressure from Shaun Phillips. But they are probably playing as well as they can with their personnel. I still think they have a lot of question marks in the secondary. I don't know if we can expect the Broncos to pressure Wilson much.
As an NYC resident I am confident in saying that having the super bowl here is a mistake. Cold weather games are great to watch on tv. NOT great to spend $2,000 to go see. Transportation to the meadowlands is a nightmare, and ticket sales are way down. I grew up a Broncos fan in Denver, and I would consider plunking down all of my savings to see them this sunday. But not for the meadowlands.
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
This is a great city and the Meadowlands is a terrific stadium, but it is windy and cold. I just think the Super Bowl is a celebration of a great season and to me the most important thing is to see two elite teams that are able to put their best product on the field. If that happens on Sunday then I don't think the weather is a factor. I know everyone is making a big deal of it, and I know a lot of fans love the idea of a game in snow, but I think you have to look past who comes to a Super Bowl. A lot of people spend a lot of money who aren't your diehard every Sunday fan. You are trying to cater to them having a good time as well. It will be interesting as the week goes on to see if people complain or if they just accept things. I will say this - this town is full of tourists right now and most of them are not football fans. They are just people visiting New York. Obviously cold weather isn't bothering the tourists!
Ed (Queens Village)
What is your prediction for Super Bowl?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I have obviously watched a lot of film on these two teams. We do a ton of illustrations for the shows. In the beginning I thought Seattle had the edge as a physical team that imposes its will. But I have come around to Denver's defense which has played well enough to hold their own. When I look at Peyton in this offense, I just don't see how you stop him. He is playing at a level that defies description. Whatever you seem to do defensively, he has an answer for. If he gets a decent weather day where the passing game can work, I think it bodes very well for the Broncos. I'm picking the Broncos 27-20.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Thanks for all the questions! We'll talk again after the game!