Two of the hottest teams in the NFL reside in the Lonestar State. The Houston Texans own the league’s longest winning streak at nine games, while the Dallas Cowboys have strung together four straight wins. Both organizations currently lead their respective divisions and look to be on their way to making a playoff run.
The similarities don’t stop there. Both teams will be facing their rivals this coming week, with the Colts (Texans) and the Eagles (Cowboys) travelling to Texas. And, according to guest Inside the NFL analyst Dwight Freeney, there are several similarities between the two teams on the field as well. We caught up with Dwight to ask him about that and more this week as he prepared for the show. You can catch Dwight alongside Ray Lewis, Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms and host James Brown tonight on Showtime at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
CBS Local Sports: The two Texas teams have been strong defensively this season. What are the biggest similarities in the way that these teams attack on defense?
Dwight Freeney: Both teams have the same formula right now for winning games. They are running the ball and sticking to their roots. When you think of the Cowboys, you think of Emmitt Smith, you think of running the ball and sound defense. Same thing with Houston. Even though they don’t have as much success as the Cowboys, when they have had success, it was Arian Foster running the ball and controlling the clock, and they had a good defense.
Both teams are getting back to their roots of running the ball and playing good defense. You have Jaylon Smith as a young guy contributing for the Cowboys, with a veteran like DeMarcus Lawrence on the defensive line rushing the quarterback. They are getting both things covered. Same thing on the Texans side of things. You have J.J. Watt and Ja’Deveon Clowney along with the defensive line as the anchor of that team defensively.
On offense, both teams are built to run the ball, and they have athletic quarterbacks capable of running the ball as well when plays break down.
CBS Local Sports: The Browns and Packers have both let their head coaches go in-season. Do you think there is any benefit to doing that? As a player, how tough is that to handle?
Dwight Freeney: Well, if you’re getting rid of your head coach, it’s already tough period, because you’re not having a good year. It might be a good change and maybe a way to bounce back in a sense. It’s an opportunity to give somebody else, maybe an assistant coach, an opportunity to see what he has. Maybe if he wins all of the games or something like that, then you don’t have to look for another guy outside of the organization.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to fire a coach in the middle of the season if you have some prospects in the building that you want to see, but you don’t want to give them an entire year. So you give them the next seven games or so to see if what was going wrong was the head coach’s problem or the system.
CBS Local Sports: For those two teams, how much should they consult with their quarterbacks in the coaching search? Do you think it is different for Rodgers because he is a veteran while Mayfield is a rookie?
Dwight Freeney: I think it’s different for each organization. But I’m a big believer of whatever your job is, that is what you are supposed to do. If you’re the general manager, do your job. Don’t start mixing in players into your decision.
If you want to go and ask them, so be it. If you go and ask them off to the side, ‘hey, what do you think about this guy?’ I think that happens. But I don’t think many players go in to their general manager’s office or wherever and pound on the desk saying that ‘we have to get rid of this guy.’ I think whatever those issues are, they are probably glaring issues within the organization that can be seen from everybody’s perspective. So, you’re hoping that the general manager doesn’t have to rely on anybody.
But, if they decide to go ask someone who is a really big part of the organization, I don’t really have a problem with that.