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!
Hi Caveman, can a team so dominated like the Bears rise like the Phoenix from the ashes even against a challenged team like the Pack
Gary Horton (4:05 PM)
I did not like what I saw from the Bears on Sunday night. Frankly, I was really surprised that they weren't more ready to play. However, I think they know what's at stake. Playing at home will make them look like a much different team. I expect them to be much better on offense. And as much as you like the Packers, they are a flawed team that just doesn't have the playmakers the Bears do. Unless Green Bay can run the ball and control the clock, I don't think they have a chance to hang with the Bears. And we know neither one of these defenses are great.
Gary, just last year the Redskins looked like they were back to being a relevant team. What a difference a year makes. Granted they have had their share of mishaps this year, RGIII injury, Quarterback v coach v owner controversy, team name controversy. How far away are they? Or have they fallen back to irrelevance again? Will a healthy, motivated RGIII help turn things around again?
Gary Horton (4:07 PM)
There is more concern than a lot of people will like to admit. Because of his injury, the read option that was so good a year ago is not a part of this offense. When you don't have that outside threat, it's easier to defend this offense. Morris doesn't have the room to run. RG III is a pocket QB. They also have major problems on defense. They don't cover very well. They are not a good matchup group. I think it's going to take some time to rebuild that defense. This is a team that doesn't have an abundance of high draft picks, so it can't be done over night.
Don (Syracuse, NY)
The Vikings have lost 4 games in the final minute. Are they as bad as their record indicates? What is their biggest need...other than quarterback?
Gary Horton (4:09 PM)
QB cotinues to be a major weakness for this team. I think there are other parts of the offense that have a chance to be good, including the passing game and AP and the run game. But there are also more defensive issues that nobody really talks about. There is a lot of age on this unit. Changes will be necessary soon. This team plays hard, but until they get the right QB, I don't think they have a chance.
Another game, another Eli Manning interception. It's 2013. Can we finally just call him an average quarterback who was carried to two Super Bowls by a great defense and strong running game?
Gary Horton (4:12 PM)
I don't know if I'm ready to do that yet. Because, at times, he looks like he could do it all and make every throw. I would like to think that a group of WRs who don't always get separation, an OL that doesn't always protect him, a running game that is nonexistent at times, are all factors in his poor play. When you watch him on film, it looks like he is trying to make big plays when nothing is there. That leads to throwing it up and hoping that someone comes down with it. I think we should give it another year and see if they can correct some of their offensive problems before we make those assumptions.
Keith (Seattle, WA)
Do you think a home loss prior to the playoffs in actually a good thing for the Seahawks? Or did the loss rattle their confidence, remove their aura of invincibility, and give others a blueprint, as well as hope?
Gary Horton (4:15 PM)
I think your latter thought is correct. I think that there was a feeling of invincibility at home and Arizona basically smacked them in the mouth and was more physical than they were. Other teams will look at that and use it as a blueprint. The Cardinals kept Russell Wilson in the pocket. They didn't let him create in the passing game while on the move and they played disciplined coverages. They also did a great job of step up and fill against Lynch in the run game. I don't think anybody thought you could go into Seattle and intimidate them. I still don't think they'll lose at home in the playoffs, but this will still give teams some hope, especially if they're physical. It was clear that Arizona was not intimidated. I think that bodes well for a team like San Francisco and even Carolina.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Happy Holidays, Gary! If Aaron Rodgers is not able to play in the Packers' final game at Chicago, do you think Matt Flynn would be able to lead the Packers to victory over the Bears?
Gary Horton (4:16 PM)
I don't think so, because I think Chicago will rebound offensively from their poor effort on Sunday night. I just think they have too many weapons for the Packers to get into any kind of high scoring game. To me, the only chance Green Bay has is to slow down the game with the run and control the clock and limit the Bears possessions. A bad weather day could also help.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
But I just look at this game as an explosive Bears statement and a convincing win at home.
Gary Horton (4:17 PM)
They know what's at stake.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Which coach has the door hit them in the rear end first, Shanahan or Schwartz?
Gary Horton (4:19 PM)
I would have to think Schwartz. So much was expected of them and they had every chance to dominate this division and they did not. They become the ultimate underachievers. To me, they are a team with a lot of elite players. Washington has some excuses, if they decide to use them. It wouldn't shock me for the Redskins to take a few days to sort this thing out and have Shanahan meet with Snyder and Bruce Allen and maybe take their time. But most of these coaching changes will come quickly. If you're going to fire a guy, you want to make sure that the hiring pool has everyone possible available that you would want to talk to.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Are the Cowboys setting their fans up once again for heartbreak? Or does Romo finally get it done in a decisive game?
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I certainly think the Cowboys have an uphill battle to win this game. This Philadelphia offense can be tremendous and they will be especially effective on this surface in Dallas. I just don't know how the Cowboys defense will slow them down. Foles is so accurate right now, he will pick apart the Cover 2 defense. If that theory is right, then Tony Romo is going to have to put up as many as 30 points to win a high scoring game. And even against a mediocre Eagles defense, I don't know if Dallas can do that. I didn't expect Philadelphia to be as good as they were Sunday night, but they sent a message to everybody.
Gary Horton (4:22 PM)
I expect the Eagles to win in Dallas.
hey gary....if you were the Jets GM what changes would you make to improve the offense? Rex have to go or can the issues be solved with better personnel at the skill positions
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think they can continue to be a really good defense with Rex, but offensively they just don't matchup. Their running game is a little better than it's been, but this is the worst group of skill players in the NFL. They have no explosiveness in the passing game and I don't believe in Geno Smith yet. Their defensive line is good, because they've drafted a number of guys high. Their secondary needs some help. In all honesty, if they win this week and finish 8-8, that's a great coaching job in a tough environment.
Gary Horton (4:24 PM)
I think it's a tough call for the Jets, in terms of what to do with Ryan. I know the players still believe in him.
Michael (Cincinnati) [via mobile]
Gary, Browns fans everywhere witnessed a complete failure by the entire team yesterday in NY. How can progress be claimed when the record has regressed from a year ago?
Gary Horton (4:26 PM)
I really liked this team about midseason. I thought they were playing hard. I thought they showed glimpses of being relevant. I really liked QB Brian Hoyer before he got hurt. We all thought this was a defense that had a chance to be respectable. But they all fell apart in the last month and really regressed. Instead of going into the offseason being really excited about adding some pieces to the mix, I think they really have to take a hard look at this roster. Now, this organization has some tough decisions.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Do you think San Diego holds on to the final playoff spot?
Gary Horton (4:28 PM)
I will be honest, I don't have a clue on who is going to come out between San Diego, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Miami. There are so many different scenarios. I will say this: I do think San Diego is the best team trying to get into that last playoff spot and if they do, Philip Rivers has a chance to get on a nice roll. I liked Baltimore until last weekend, now, I'm not so sure. Pittsburgh has some flaws and Miami was exposed at Buffalo. It certainly makes for an interesting Sunday.
The Chiefs only win against an above .500 team is the Eagles, but that was way back when Vick was starting. Are the Chiefs overrated because of their easy schedule?
Gary Horton (4:31 PM)
Jamaal Charles gives them a chance to be in most games. However, it seems to me in recent weeks, Alex Smith has not been as good as I thought he was. I also have been disappointed in their defense for not creating more turnovers and not being as dominating. But I also see a lot of elite players on both sides of the ball. When we get into January, if those guys step up, they could be more dangerous than they are now.
Gary Horton (4:34 PM)
Obviously, the NFL is looking for parity and we love late games that have meaning. I don't think we have ever seen a Week 17 with so many things to be decided. I'm writing up the Wild Card matchups for ESPN.com, and usually I can start on those, leading into Week 17, but this year I can't, because there is so much at stake that will be decided on Sunday. Obviously, that is a good thing, in terms of more teams being forced to play their guys and not rest them. That leads to some very competitive matchups. I can't think right now of any contending team in the NFL that will rest their players on Sunday.
Gary Horton (4:35 PM)
Hang on a sec...breaking news on SportsCenter -- Tony Romo out for the rest of the season. Wow, that really hurts the Cowboys now.
Gary Horton (4:35 PM)