Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (4:01 PM)
We've got Gary!
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary - The Redskins turned in another bad performance this past weekend, does the trouble fall on the offensive line or Robert Griffin III for the poor play?
Gary Horton (4:02 PM)
I just don't think RGIII is playing really well right now. He just doesn't look real comfortable. I don't think he has great chemistry with his receivers. But those are all things that can and should improve. But I expected this offense to be a little more crisp right now.
Do you think starting Geno Smith is the right call for the Jets?
Gary Horton (4:03 PM)
Yeah, I do right now, because I don't think Michael Vick has clearly outplayed him. I think they feel that Geno gives them the best long term chance for success. I don't look at the Jets as a playoff team, so I'm not sure it really matters. Vick is a solid veteran who could step in at any time, if they need to make a change.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - I realize that once the season starts we can throw out the preseason but are there teams that give you cause for concern based on their preseason? Conversely is their a team that has surprised you with how well they have played this summer?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
The Giants give you huge cause for concern. This new offense has looked really bad. There aren't many positive signs to point to. Other teams that would concern me might be a little surprising. I don't think San Francisco has looked very good, but you'd think they could straighten that out. Dallas has looked awful, but we expected that. Those are just a couple that come to mind; we probably won't know more until Week 1. Several coaches have talked about playing their starters in Week 4, which is unusual, just to get them in a rhythm going into Week 1.
Gary Horton (4:08 PM)
As for the other side, this shouldn't come as any surprise, but Seattle looks in midseason form. It really speaks well to the individual competition that Pete Carroll stresses with this team, so nobody ever relaxes. As I look through all of the other teams, it seems to me like the bigger theme is how many teams look really good one week and then bad the next, to the point where you just don't know who they are. I think that applies to a lot of teams.
What are your thoughts on the Mankins trade? I think Bill the GM has again dealt Bill the coach a blow.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
My initial reaction was that I was shocked, because I think Mankins is an excellent player. But I also know that Tampa Bay is desperate for OG help because that's the weakness of the team right now. What this trade tells me is that Belichick maybe views Mankins as closer to the end of his career than we might think. I'm not sure they trust him to stay healthy for the entire season. This is not a great Pats' OL right now. You would think that Mankins is a real key. To trade him at this stage of the summer, certainly tells you that they are reading Mankins' performance differently than we are.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Hi Gary - do you think Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel will all end up starting for their respective teams sometime in October?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
I think the answer is yes, they start at some point this season, because I don't think any of the three teams have realistic playoff chances. That means, once the team is out of the playoff hunt, why not throw them into the mix and see what you have? That could come as early as October, because I don't see those teams staying in the playoff mix. I think we could see Manziel playing a wildcat-type role, maybe as early as Week 1 with a package of plays, to take advantage of his skill set.
Should I be panicking over 9ers O-line problems?
Gary Horton (4:14 PM)
I think they will get it ironed out, but I would be concerned. They have not played real well in the preseason. This passing game has not looked as sharp as I thought it would I think they miss Alex Boone. For this team to be successful, they need to be good upfront with a physical style and have the ability to play those heavy packages they like.
where do you see incognito landing? any chance he fills in for the departing mankins?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
Boy, I can't imagine Belichick taking on Incognito. I thought Tampa Bay was a possibility because Lovie Smith is a very patient coach who might be able to deal with Incognito. Having said that, the Patriots locker room is strong enough that they could probably handle the noise that would bring, but I just don't think they are an organization that wants to open that can of worms. But it would not surprise me to see Incognito get a job soon, now that he's cleared to play, if the organization truly believes that he's rehabilitated.
Is it possible that Jacksonville's decision to sit Bortles for the year, assuming they do, has an ulterior motive? Aside from him getting a year to watch the game instead of jumping into the fray is it possible that Jacksonville is looking to do poorly and pick up another top 5 pick?
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
No, I don't think so at all. I think this was their plan from Day 1. You have an organization that strongly believes that a rookie QB can learn a lot by sitting. I don't necessarily agree with that. This is their philosophy. Their coaches believe they are an improved football team this year and that they are on the right track.
Gary Horton (4:18 PM)
But it will be important to see how long the fan base will deal with them if they are losing and Bortles is not playing.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Is Michael Sam now a lock for the Rams Opening Day roster, instead of the practice squad, after registering two sacks in Week 3?
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
No, I don't think he's a lock at all. He's still a third-team DE, who is undersized. While it looks like he's made tremendous progress in training camp, this is probably the deepest DL in the NFL. So, he just doesn't have a lot of room to move up. He's also playing a position where contributing on special teams is not a way to make the roster. My gist is that he will end up being a practice player.
Love ya Mankins, but your on the wrong side of 30 making 10+M, I actually love the trade. With all that cap space it clears,...do I smell a Revis extension?
Gary Horton (4:21 PM)
I would not be surprised at all if they're headed in that direction. Revis has had a nice preseason. He and Browner have added to this defense. Bill Belichick has a little Bill Walsh in him in that he has a real good fell for when players may start to slip and he can part ways with them a year before they fall apart and not a lot of other people see it. Walsh was great at it and Belichick sees it too.
Harry (Babylon, NY)
Gary - would you view Seattle, Green Bay, NO & Philadelphia as the 4 best NFC teams with SF lurking a little behind?
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I love the four you mention, but I might be tempted to throw Chicago in there, if their defense can at least be middle of the road. I think San Francisco is definitely there, but they have not played like it so far. The biggest takeaway from the NFC is who is going into Seattle in January and beating them? I don't see any of these teams, playing well, can do that. But you never know. The NFC is probably more competitive than the AFC right now. I look past New England and Denver and I don't know who I like. You have some nice stories, but I don't think those teams are elite.
Charles (Columbus, OH)
Is Cordarelle Patterson the breakout star of 2014?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
Norv Turner is putting him in that situation. He is learning every WR position. They are moving him all over the field to get the right matchup. He is the big play WR that Norv loves to have. I think he will really be targeted a lot in their passing plays. If AD is running well, then that means a lot of 8 men in the box which could leave single coverage options for Patterson, especially when you have TE Kyle Rudolph.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Seems like MJD showed a little burst in the preseason..too early to write him off just yet? Or would you bet that DMC is the man in the regular season?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I don't have a lot of confidence in the Raiders' offense in general. I do think the coaches think they have a nice two-man combo in MJD and DMC. But McFadden can't stay healthy and I don't know if MJD has enough explosiveness. I know they want to be a run first offense with a physical OL, but I'm not sure I see it yet. In today's NFL, with RBs start to go down, they deteriorate quickly.
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
This is a nervous week for a lot of players, not only today, but next week, as teams get down to their final rosters. It's always fascinating to me how organizations make decisions and how they come up with the right composition of their roster. We're almost to the season and that should excite everybody.