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Cowboys’ Parsons ‘A Problem,’ Says Giants Head Coach


Dallas Cowboys Micah Parsons | Image by Cowboys Wire

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When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Micah Parsons with its first pick in 2021, the move left many sports writers and Cowboys fans scratching their heads. Most people assumed Dallas would look to bolster a secondary that was in need of help or address issues on the offensive line with the first pick.

Since then, all Parsons has done is win. He wins on the pass rush, he wins on run stopping, and no matter what the play is or where the ball is going, offenses are forced to focus a significant amount of manpower in the hope of slowing down one of the most aggressive motors seen in professional football in decades.

Last season, Parsons drew comparisons to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, arguably one of the greatest linebackers of all time. While it is always a little suspect to compare a rookie to one of the game’s elite players, the comparisons have continued to ring true already in 2022.

Parsons has four sacks and nine tackles in two games and is a big part of the reason the anemic Cowboys offense was able to secure a win in Week 2.

“He’s a problem,” said New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll. “He’s a dynamic football player. … He has a rare pass-rush ability. We’re going to have to have a good plan for him. He’s fun to watch when you’re not getting ready to play him.”

On Monday Night Football, Daboll will get his first chance as the head coach of the Giants to stop the Defensive Rookie of the Year, who was also the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) in his rookie season. The only other player in NFL history to have won DPOY as a rookie was Taylor while a member of the New York Giants.

One of the keys to Parsons’ success is that he is a versatile player that can line up anywhere along the defensive line, or even off of it, as he did line up at corner a few times last season. Offensive coordinators can’t just plan on Parsons being at the end of the line or at linebacker since he often switches from play to play or even in pre-snap motion.

“I think that’s what makes his skill set so unique,” said Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn during training camp. “There’s a lot of players that can be on the edge. We’ve seen excellent players, Hall of Fame players that can rip the edge. There’s not a lot of guys that can move in and out of two spots. It actually causes a lot of matchup problems.”

Even when Parsons doesn’t get home, his relentless pursuit of the ball and the number of offensive linemen it takes to contain him frees others on the Cowboys’ defense to shine. Against the Bengals last week, Parsons was joined by Dorance Armstrong in recording two sacks on quarterback Joe Burrow.

Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Barr and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence all recorded seven individual tackles last week. Vander Esch added a sack to his day, while offseason pickup Dante Fowler Jr. recorded his first sack as a Cowboy, totaling six takedowns on the day. These performances were set up by the need to focus energy on Parsons, freeing others to wreck plays all day long.

Parsons is currently on pace to record 34 sacks this season, far more than the NFL record of 22.5 held by Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt (2021) and the Giants’ Michael Strahan (2001). Sometimes early season predictions are reckless, but the idea that Parsons could shatter the single-season sack record doesn’t seem far off the mark, even with only two games in the books for 2022.      

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