In Dallas, the conversation around the Cowboys typically centers on offense. People are talking about Dak Prescott’s passing. Ezekiel Elliott’s race. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb’s pass catcher.
But in 2021, the conversation is changing. A defensive player stole the show. Fans and pundits alike have been dazzled by the versatility, athleticism and ferocity of the 12th overall pick in the 2021 Draft. Barring a disaster, linebacker Micah Parsons is a lock to being named the defensive rookie of the League. year at the NFL Honors on February 10.
But we have to start having another conversation. A talk on a different honor for the former Penn State star. DROY might not be the only award Parsons wins in Los Angeles.
At this rate, Parsons could also be 2021 Defensive Player of the Year.
The Cowboys have gone 8-4 this season and added to their 5-6 lead over Washington in the NFC East with a 27-17 victory Thursday over a shorthanded New Orleans Saints team. But on a night when the Cowboys offense couldn’t run the ball consistently and clocked a relatively modest (by its standards) total of 377 yards, it was up to the Dallas defense to prevail. .
Wear it, they did. Dallas limited the Saints to a single touchdown in the first 57 minutes while forcing four turnovers (one of which was fired for a score) and scoring two sacks. As has been the case so many times this season, Parsons was the star of the series.
For the game, Parsons had five tackles (two solo), one sack, one loss tackle and two QB hits. The 6’3 ″, 245 pounds spent more time in the New Orleans backfield than Saints running back Mark Ingram II.
The bag put Parsons looking really rarefied.
ESPN Statistics and Information @ESPNStatsInfo
Micah Parsons is the No. 1 player with 70 tackles and 10.0 sacks in his team’s first 12 games since James Harrison in 2010. He’s on track for over 100 tackles and 14.0 sacks this season. The last player to do both was Bruce Smith in 1993. https://t.co/Sj69rry0az
It’s not like Thursday’s game is an aberration, either. The victory over the Saints marked the eighth game this season in which Parsons scored at least half a sack. He’s had two or more sacks twice and now has at least one sack in five straight games.
Simply put, newbies aren’t supposed to be that dominant this early on. To make it look so easy, especially on a stage as big as playing for the Cowboys. But while the Parsons rampage left jaws on the floor across the NFL, there’s one person he hasn’t even surprised a little bit – Parsons himself.
“I mean, eyes are on me,” Parsons told reporters. “It won’t change my preparation, won’t change anything I did because I was already ready for the moment. Some people were born for it. I believe I was born for it and I just played like this. “
Craziest part of feeling Godzilla that Parsons has been doing in 12 games? That’s not really the role Dallas asked him to play.
That’s not to say Parsons didn’t show off some quick chops at Penn State. Or that Dallas had no intention of using him to attack the quarterback. But Parsons was to be primarily an off-ball linebacker. To play indoors.
But then the Cowboys were wiped out by edge injuries, so they kicked Parsons on the outside, sometimes standing, other times with one hand in the dirt.
Parsons was essentially placed in a new position while moving from college to the NFL after retiring from the 2020 season at Penn State. And he was absolutely dominant.
Guys, this just doesn’t happen. This is the plot of a movie, not the reality of the NFL.
Again, guess who isn’t surprised?
“I challenge myself every week to go out there and be awesome and find a way to make an impact on the game, whether it’s at the end or at the linebacker,” Parsons said. “And I feel like it doesn’t matter where I am. I have to find a way to make some money, you know what I mean? And help my team win. So, I am hungry in myself to be tall. “
Parsons speaks the speech. And walk the walk. And when Matt Bowen, former NFL security analyst and current ESPN, watches a movie, he sees a player who looks nothing like a rookie.
“What jumps out at me is his use of the hand, very developed in terms of his technique, using counter movements to win, and then you see his high level traits. Lots of guys have high profile traits. They’re explosive, but they can’t come home with the quarterback because they can’t create that separation. With Micah Parsons you see that and then you move on to his high profile traits. His ability to bend is ridiculous. He has the short zone speed, which is much more important than the long speed for the passer. And then when it closes, you’re done. ”
This is the thing. We need to stop seeing Parsons as a rookie. Of course, he will win the title of Defensive Rookie of the Year, most likely unanimously. But he plays as well as any defenseman in the league. Period.
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Are there other deserving candidates? Sure. Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns is an almost impossible nightmare to block for a 20-sack season. TJ Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers was a finalist for the award last year and was just as impactful on the field in 2021. Parsons teammate Trevon Diggs notched his ninth interception of the season against New Orleans. Aaron Donald of Aries. Haason Reddick of the Panthers. A lot of defensive players are having good seasons.
But the roster of rookies playing at a DPOY level while essentially playing two positions has a name on it. And Parsons is just as essential to his team as any of those veterans.
There is still a lot of football to be played. The “recruit wall” looms for Parsons. But he does not hear of a fade in the second half.
“People always talk about the rookie wall, but I keep climbing and climbing because I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side of that wall,” he told reporters.
Parsons undoubtedly climbed all over the Saints on Thursday. In a post-game interview with Fox Sports, he offered that bit of wisdom.
“A wise man once said, ‘The greatest understand this. “”
He certainly seems to have understood football. And the next thing Parsons might have to figure out is where to put a coupler great trophies.