Micah Parsons could be the top pass rusher in the NFL if the Cowboys’ coaching staff allows it

Micah Parsons could be the top pass rusher in the NFL if the Cowboys' coaching staff allows it

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The Dallas Cowboys seem to be hell-bent on remaining in the middle of the pack and going one and done in the postseason — if they even make it this season. According to Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the team plans to continue playing Micah Parsons as a roving linebacker instead of lining him up more as an edge rusher.

Most fans want to see Parsons rushing opposing passers more after an All-Pro rookie campaign where he recorded 13 sacks and won Rookie of the Year honors. Coach Quinn and head coach Mike McCarthy are firm in their stance that Micah’s skill set is better utilized all over the field.

Parsons possesses talents at the linebacker position that we don’t see all the time. Unlike most, I don’t think he necessarily needs to line up at DE every down but moving him around and sending him at the quarterback more often is what I’d like to see. Parsons ranked third in sack percentage last year, taking down the QBs on 4.7 percent of his pass rushes. He also led the league in QB pressure rate at 21.1 percent.

Dallas will need Parsons’ pass-rushing prowess even more after losing Randy Gregory to Denver in the offseason. It feels like it’d be a no-brainer to send Parsons off the edge nearly every play, but that’s not how the Cowboys’ brain trust sees the situation.

This Cowboys defense will need to improve on a bounce-back 2021 and be even better in ‘22. There are a lot of questions about the offense and how productive it can be with so few weapons for Dak Prescott compared to last year. Amari Cooper and Cedric Wilson Jr. are gone. Michael Gallup is still recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be ready to start the season. Dallas must rely heavily on running the ball and playing exceptional defense.

The best way for the latter part of that equation to come to fruition is by sending Micah from all angles with reckless abandon. Dallas’ staff feels Parsons is better at the linebacker position where he can be all over the field making tackles, deflecting passes, and clobbering QBs. The best spot for Parsons is wherever it affects the defense most positively. And 13 sacks as a rookie speaks volumes.

Were this a debate over an offensive player, Jerry Jones would’ve likely stepped in already. But I guess Jerry is finally allowing the football folks to make football decisions. Parsons is one of the best young defensive players in the NFL, but you won’t win many games if you can’t get to the QB. Parsons allows the Cowboys to get to the QB more frequently.

This stance by Quinn and McCarthy could be a smoke screen to catch teams off guard at the beginning of the season. DeMarcus Lawrence is the only proven Cowboys pass rusher up front after the departure of Gregory. I don’t see any way around playing Parsons more at the other end position and letting him loose after QBs.

Let’s get a little creative on defense. Micah should be getting after the QB more than 40 percent of the time. He can still roam but devise a scheme that disguises his rushes, so it’s not as predictable. Quinn may have flamed out as a head coach in Atlanta, but he’s been a damn fine defensive coordinator in his career.

Dallas has the talent and an excellent defensive signal caller in Quinn. It’s time to make it the Micah Parsons show on defense. The Cowboys ranked 13th in sacks last year, with Parsons leading the way. Give him a few more pass rushes per game, and he could easily grab another four to five sacks. McCarthy is on the hot seat, so this isn’t the time to play it safe. He needs to go all out if he wants to quiet talks of Sean Payton coming to town.

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.