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!
Buzzmaster (4:01 PM)
Hello everyone! Gary will be here momentarily! Keep those questions coming!
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
Hello! I'm ready for your questions!
How much does losing David Wilson hurt the Giants?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
It hurts for sure. This team needs to run the football to take pressure off Eli Manning. It's a real shame because it looked like he was going to be a significant part of this offense.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - what does Washington need to do to get back into the playoff picture - will a new voice at head coach make the difference?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
It appears that the players are really comfortable with Gruden, especially RGIII. So there shouldn't be the drama we saw a year ago. The key for this team is for RGIII to come back and have a solid year and not make a lot of mistakes. They need a strong run game to give them play-action and on defense they need to really become more aggressive. Jim Haslett seems to want to do that, but it didn't happen a year ago. They don't have enough playmakers on defense to play contain schemes. They are going to have to attack. It would be easy to dismiss the Redskins, but this NFC East certainly doesn't look very strong. It is anybody's for the taking.
What can the Cowboys do to improve on their league-worst defense? Didn't seem like they did much in the offseason
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
I don't think this defense will be any better than it was a year ago. They just don't have the personnel to play cover 2 and I have heard talk they may play more man-to-man schemes. But I don't see an edge pass rush and that means the guys on the back end will have to hold their coverages longer and I don't see where the big plays are coming from. The loss of Lee is huge. The MLB has cover the deep middle of the field and I don't see that guy right now. The only success they can have is if their offense dominates.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Caveman, please tell me defensive holding as it is being called this preseason will be a distant memory come week #1. I was a firm believer the officiating last season was inconsistent from week to week, culminating in a completely different set of rules for the postseason. I have serious questions on NFL officiating.
Gary Horton (4:10 PM)
I don't know yet if this is how the officials are going to call it or if they are just trying to send a message to the players and overcompensating early to force teams to adjust. Really physical secondaries like Seattle will have a lot of problems with how this is called. I personally like defenses that are physical with wide receivers. People that love offense probably think these rules are great. But I hate to see so many penalties called that it hurts the flow of the game. I'll be curious to see how the coaches react if this continues in the offseason. Will they be vocal about it or just learn to live with it?
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you see Eli Manning's 2013 season as an anomaly, or a sign of more things to come? Is he deteriorating as a QB in this league?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I think in this new offense he will play well. He forced the ball a lot last year because he had to. He didn't have great receivers or a great running game and he was pressured often. I think the ball will come out quicker in this offense which will lead to fewer hits and higher percentage passes. I will say in last week's game I was a little concerned about the communication between Eli and his receivers. They didn't always read the right routes. That has to be cleaned up.
Austin(Omaha) [via mobile]
Will the vikes make the postseason if Bridgewater is average or better this year?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
It doesn't matter much who is at QB this year. They just aren't good enough. They have work to do on offense. They can have a good run game, but I think they are the victim of being in a very competitive division with GB and Chicago both looking like playoff teams. And Detroit is loaded with playmakers. They could play hard and have some success at QB and still be a below .500 team.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - will the additions of both Revis and Browner actually help NE improve it's run D or is it more about Wilfork returning to form?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
From what I have watched in the preseason I am really impressed by these two corners. They are both guys that can push receivers around which should be interesting considering the new rules. They allow the Pats to play tight man-to-man schemes which gives them a lot of versatility on how they attack defenses. Obviously Wilfork is an important cog on the inside. He is apparently lighter and is in good shape for a big man. I think Browner and Revis totally change the way this defense looks even though they won't have Browner until Week 5.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Saw the footage of Martellus Bennett slamming the rook CB to the ground...seems like the suspension had more to do with his flippant attitude than the action, right? Seems like that play happens 100 times in camp...
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
I think you are probably right. A physical confrontation in and of itself would probably not bring that kind of penalty. It sure looks like there was more going on behind the scenes that just that one play. This looks like a culmination of things and the coaches just finally had to take action. Even though he hasn't publicly apologized (that I have heard) things seem to be OK and everyone seems to be moving on.
The weak gets weaker...with McDougle now out for the year and Millner not being able to work on his game being hurt for the next month. How bad is this secondary going to be for the Jets this year? I know the strenght is the front 7 and they have solid safetys but I really feel cb is the reason they will finish under .500
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think it was the biggest weakness on this team BEFORE the injuries. We know Rex wants to play aggressive man schemes where he can blitz. And we know the front 7 is rock solid, but what opposing offenses will do is simply say we don't have to run against those 7, we'll just attack the back end and find matchups we can exploit. Not only do they look like they will struggle in base coverage packages, I don't have any idea how they are going to handle spread offenses. This has to be a really tough thing for Rex to deal with. He can't call his defenses the way he wants to with the personnel he has.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - is there an overlooked team you are keeping an eye on that may take everyone by surprise?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I think Arizona is a team that I really like. They are good on defense and I think the offense will take a major step this year. The problem is they play in such a tough division that nobody pays much attention to them. They could be a really good team and still not make the playoffs. And I know that Philadelphia gets a lot of publicity, but I like them as well. We know the offense and if the defense is even just middle of the pack they could really be a good team. I'm looking at more teams that were good a year ago that will take a step BACK than teams that I think will emerge.
Last year's "Final 4" were NE/DEN/SEA/SF, who is the most likely to fall out of that group this year and who slips into their place?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I don't think any of the four will fall out. Those will be your Final Four again. But if I had to pick one I'd probably say San Francisco. They have some concerns on defense with injuries and losses. But they really like their passing game right now. I just look at these four teams and I think if Seattle and Denver are playing at home in January, good luck beating them. The two Seattle-San Fran matchups will determine who goes to the Super Bowl. I just don't see any of these teams falling off.
A little late to the party. Although most would agree and or assume Brady didnt play to allow Mallet to showcase himself, do you think it speaks more so to how much further the Pats O is as opposed to this time last year? I think Brady played the whole first quarter last years opener
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think it is important to remember that they had joint practices with Washington so that is almost a game situation. I do think that Mallet is going to get a lot of snaps in the preseason as a possible trade guy, but I also think they are going to look at Garappolo to see if he can be a No. 2. Brady should have a great year if his pass-catchers can stay healthy. And I think one thing that this defense will be much better at is getting the ball back to Brady with takeaways.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How discouraged should Raiders fan be after the Vikings game?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
I don't think you can overreact to a loss in Week 1 of the preseason. The backups are playing more than the starters. Having said that, I think the Raiders are in a real tight spot because they are basing their hopes on a lot of veteran players that may or may not have enough gas left in the tank for another good year. With obvious questions at quarterback, I just don't know how much we can expect from them. If all of these veterans have career years, they could be pretty good. But that is probably being overly optimistic.
Am I the only one who thinks the Bills can quietly be a very dangerous team this year? Drafting Watkins a Woods is a nice wr tandem and adding Williams is not a bad move at all Chandler is an underrated TE. If there defense is solid and Manuel can stay healthy I think they're a team to watch
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I would say absolutely yes they could be dangerous. They have lots of ingredients for success. I love the pass rush defense. They can be a strong running team. But to me it all comes down to the QB and I don't know what to expect from Manuel. I watched him in the preseason some and at times he excites you and at times he looks inconsistent. Even though he has a great new target in Watkins, if he doesn't dramatically increase his play they are not going to be a great team. They should be able to play with the Jets and Dolphins though no matter how he plays.
Dave(NY) [via mobile]
Do you think the packers can pull off the upset week one in Seattle
Gary Horton (4:33 PM)
Because they have Aaron Rodgers, yes. The Seahawks team that I have been following in the preseason hasn't missed a beat. They have their swagger, they look like a complete team at every position and I think the biggest improvement we will see is in the passing game with Harvin and Richardson. They have the potential for big, explosive plays. What I like about Pete Carroll is that he constantly demands competition at every position. This is a team that will not get complacent.
Is HOU's defense still a Top 5 squad or will Cushing's injury coupled w/ lackluster DB play bring them down? Also how do you think Andre Johnson plays this season? With a vengence or with a pout?
Gary Horton (4:36 PM)
I think Johnson will be steady and productive as always. I just don't know if they have a QB who can get him the ball consistently. I know Hopkins is having a terrific preseason which gives them a nice 1-2 punch. As for the defense, I'm concerned about the secondary unless they have an elite pass rush. I'm less concerned about the LB's because I think they have good players who are versatile and Brooks Reed can move inside and line up next to Cushing. That gives Mercilus a chance to start.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
People talk about the 49er front office and how good it is, so why didn't Balke and Co address the team's glaring weakness at corner?
Gary Horton (4:38 PM)
I think they felt they had some good young players ready to step in. One thing that does stand out about them is how deep they are because they have done a great job of getting extra draft picks. That allows them to keep some young guys around to develop. I'm not sure they are as good in the secondary as they anticipate they will be, but they feel good about it. My concern is more about the loss of Bowman and the impending suspension of Smith. Those two things really hurt this defense.
Jeff la,ca [via mobile]
What do you think of clowneys debut?
Gary Horton (4:39 PM)
I thought we saw what we needed to see as a pass rusher. I was really interested to see him lined up next to Watt at times. If that happens, that's a lot of pass rush coming off one side. I also think the play he was beaten on by the running back on a swing pass is an indication that his pass defense is the area he really needs to work on. But he is a good enough athlete to get it done. I thought he looked fine in the small sample size we saw.
Gary Horton (4:41 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions! As we always talk about, Week 3 of the preseason is the best indication of what a team will look like. That is as close to a regular season game as we will see. Week 2 will also see the starters playing deeper into the game. For a lot of the young players on the edge, this is their last week to make a real impression in a game situation. So it is important to watch a lot of guys that are fighting for roster spots. Take care and we'll talk again next week!