Chat with Gary Horton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's NFL "Caveman" himself, 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, including NFL32, where he breaks 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 (4:03 PM)
We're getting ready to have what I think could be the most exciting football week of this season. With a great Monday night game and then a terrific slate of games this upcoming weekend, with a lot of those games deciding seedings in the playoffs. This is what we wait for all season.
This late in the season, with both teams secured playoff spots, does either the Pats or Texans hold anything back tonight?
Gary Horton (4:04 PM)
No, I think we'll get both teams' best shots, because it's too early to start thinking about resting players and it's also important to keep in mind that homefield advantage is a big issue to both of these teams. If they do meet in the AFC championship game, obviously Houston would like to be at home, and so would the Patriots. There is a lot to play for in this game.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Gary, Tonights Texans-Patriots winner might go a long way to claiming the #1 spot in the AFC playoff and think the margin of victory around 3 points, how do you see the outcome?
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
Oh, I think this will be a very close game. If the weather isn't a factor, I think it could be very high scoring, because both offenses are very good. Neither defense is very elite right now, with the Texans struggling of late. Before we crown the winner of this game the best in the AFC, we better think about Denver. Although, I would agree with you, they might not be the best right now, I'm not so sure that won't be the case by the time we get to January, with the way they're improving.
Gary Horton (4:06 PM)
It really looks to me that homefield advantage is going to be a big factor in the AFC championship game.
which team has more to gain tonight? I'd say the Pats.
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
I think that Houston has more to gain in this game. First of all, they still have Indy nipping at their heels in their own division, while the Patriots are not in that situation. I also think that New England has a mindset that we've been here before and I think their attitude is winning championships is what counts, not winning regular season games - though that's a part of it. Houston has not been on this big stage a lot, so by beating the Patriots, they would show everybody that they are not the flavor of the month. I think confidence is a big factor for the Texans heading into the playoffs. We know that the Pats have it already.
Hi Gary, What happened to Arizona? They start off 4-0 and yesterday total implosion.
Gary Horton (4:11 PM)
For the first time, I thought lack of effort was an issue on Sunday. Granted Seattle is a tough place to play, but that was an embarrassment. Keep in mind that the way they won early was mostly on defense and just enough offense to keep them in games. Now their offense is so terrible, that it puts all of the pressure on their defense and when they turn the ball over like they do and have such pitiful QB play and no OL pass protection, they don't have a chance to be competitive. It looked to me like Seattle poured it on maybe more than they needed to. Although, I do understand that you need your backup QB to get real work in game situations and not just hand the ball off.
In all your years in football, have you heard anything more ridiculous than eliminating kickoffs?
Gary Horton (4:13 PM)
No, it makes no sense to me. Players can get hurt on any play in the NFL. I think a lot of fans love the excitement of a big return. There is a large group of players in the NFL that make their living on special teams. I think it's important to not take football out of the game. Injuries and collisions are always going to be a part of the game and I don't think eliminating the kickoff will do anything to change it.
Pittsburgh laid an egg yesterday. Is this a sign of things to come or can they bounce back next week in Dallas?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
Well, first of all, I was shocked that they played as poorly as they did with so much on the line. I don't think they're a perfect team. They have pass protection problems. They have injuries on defense. Their once explosive vertical passing game seems to be totally missing. I think with Big Ben getting another game under his belt, they'll be better than they were on Sunday, but Dallas is going to be a tough atmosphere to play in. I might be wrong, but I get the feeling the Steelers are on a little bit of a slide. What happened to them against San Diego is so out of character for this organization.
Why is Luck struggling a lot in terms of throwing interceptions?
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
I think that's very observant by you, because a lot of people are so enamored with his success that they don't realize that he has made a lot of poor throws. I think he's trying to take too many big plays. He's throwing into too many tight windows. He also is having to throw a lot under duress. I just think he might be a player that thinks he has to carry this team on his back, so he forces the issue. What I do really like about him is those mistakes seem to be less and less as the game goes on. Obviously, his production in the fourth quarter is really impressive. He seems to be learning from his mistakes.
Was the firing of Cam Cameron a desperate move by a desperate team? Playoff teams don't dump coaches with 3 games to go...
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I thought it was a very curious move because I've been told that John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron are very close friends. While a lot of people have questioned the play calling for the last 2-3 years, I don't know how you make that decision this close to the playoffs, especially with the offense really struggling. These are veteran players that are just not performing on a consistent level and I don't think it has much to do with the playcalling. They are running a lot of no-huddle offense, and that gives Joe Flacco all of the freedom in the world to call and change plays. So, blaming it on Cam Cameron just seems strange, considering the timing. It's not like he is a guy that nobody likes or that was disruptive to the organization.
Gary Horton (4:20 PM)
I think the Ravens are a little like the Steelers, in terms of being on a downward spiral. The difference is they are probably still good enough to win the division and still get to the playoffs.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How d you think that the Washington Redskins will do without RG3?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
It's a different offense when he's not in there, but I really like Kirk Cousins. The fact that they have a run game with Alfred Morris and a defense that's playing as well as it can. They have a winnable game at Cleveland. Cousins seems to be a guy that doesn't make a lot of mistakes. I'll be surprised if they don't play well. If they can get this win, it's great that he will have two good games of experience for insurance in case RG III gets hurt again.
Shane (Robins Air Force Base, GA)
Mr. Horton, as a long-time Cardinals fan, I have never been an advocate for front office turnover. However, Coach Whisenhunt's and GM Rod Graves' failures to field even a mediocre quarterback and offensive line since Kurt Warner retired have changed my mind. In my opinion, the Cardinals performance dictates accountability and the Bidwills should strongly consider firing Whiz, OC Miller, and offensive line coach Russ Grimm, as well as Graves. I'd recommend promoting DC Ray Horton as interim head coach and Steve Keim as GM. Thoughts on what needs to happen in the desert?
Gary Horton (4:25 PM)
I agree with you from the standpoint that the failures at QB will likely cost both the head coach and GM their jobs. On paper, it looked like they had a decent position. A lot of people thought Kevin Kolb was a quality starter in this league and their young QBs were a decent developmental products. The failure of Kolb to produce within this offense hurt everybody, plus an OL that can't protect anybody and a run game that gives you no ball control - no QB will play well in that situation.
Frank (Minneapolis) [via mobile]
Gary, is the Vikings record the only thing keeping Adrian Peterson from being NFL MVP? Because isn't the MVP about individual performance and not team record?
Gary Horton (4:27 PM)
I think he's certainly in a position to be the MVP, but you've got to look at Peyton Manning. You might need to look at Tom Brady. But when I watch Peterson on film, I am absolutely amazed how he makes cuts, how strong and explosive he is. You would have never guessed that he had knee surgery. This Minnesota offense would be terrible without him. The production that he's having versus 8 and 9 defenders in the box, because no one respects their passing game...and you may have just convinced him, because the more I think about it, maybe he should be the MVP. At the very least, between him and Manning, one of them will be the comback player of the year.
Should i be embarassed for Jets fans feeling good about their team in the last 2 weeks?
Gary Horton (4:29 PM)
Yesterday certainly wasn't very entertaining and the fact that they barely, barely beat a bad team shouldn't give them a lot of confidence. But the reality is that with their remaining schedule, they're not out of this thing at all. I don't think they're playoff worthy, but that's why they play the games. What we saw on Sunday was a clear picture of how they're going to play the rest of the way - try to win with defense and ball control run game, and do not ask the QB to try to make plays. It's probably a formula the Rex Ryan wanted at the beginning of the season, but they could never make it happen. That philosophy could get them some wins, but it won't be very exciting football. They won't beat an elite team that way.
The Bears defense has not been getting the turnovers like they were earlier in the season and the offense is struggling. Are they in danger of missing the playoffs and if they do is Lovie a goner?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
I don't think Lovie will lose his job, because I think he's built up a really good resume. But I do think they're in trouble. I don't think they can fix their OL problems. Jay Cutler is getting hit too much and in my mind he's forcing the ball too much to Brandon Marshall. Their best option is to go to a short passing game to avoid Cutler from getting hit. And I don't think they were as good as they looked when they were getting all of those turnovers. They're just not that explosive on offense. I don't know if it's something they can fix.
Gary Horton (4:32 PM)
These are the Monday Night Football games that we look forward to and to get one of this caliber this late in the season is really terrific. It should be a great watch.