Micah Parsons has been a breath of fresh air to the Dallas Cowboys defense. Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn hasn't just used him as an off-the-ball linebacker. With DeMarcus Lawrence currently out with a broken bone in his foot, Quinn has given Parsons more edge-rushing responsibilities. The results have been satisfactory. In the last two games, Parsons has 13 pressures, five quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks.
Cowboys' all-time sack leader, DeMarcus Ware, is as qualified as anyone to evaluate pass rushers. The future Hall of Famer thinks Parsons is a different breed from what he's seen.
“He can close on a tackle in a way where it's not like a normal person,” Ware said. “He's got that different athleticism that he can use to really benefit the team. Some rushers can't bend their body like that, but when you find a guy that can then it's like, ‘Whoa, we got something special.' I know I see something special in Micah.”
When the Cowboys were filming Hard Knocks on HBO, the producers contacted Ware about working with Parsons for one of the episodes. He agreed to do it, however, there was a caveat involved.
“I don't want it to be staged,” Ware told them. “I don't want him to be clammed up like he can't say this or that. Whatever's not going to be the best for TV, don't show that, but you will get the best part of who he is if you let him be himself.”
Ware spent about 45 minutes with Parsons at his gym, 3 Volt, and gave the 12th overall pick pointers on pass rush moves and techniques. The rookie surprised Ware with what he already knew and how fast he caught on to what he was being taught.
“I knew how athletic he was, but I didn't know how technical he can be,” Ware said. “I started teaching him some of the techniques and nuances of reading offenses, reading offensive tackles, how to get off the ball, get a jump ball. All the small things, and he knew that. As I went through the progressions, he picked that up really fast.”
Parsons's 15 pressures so far are the most for any rookie this season. Also, he's the highest-graded rookie in the first three weeks according to Pro Football Focus.
The former Nittany Lion is the swiss army knife of the Cowboys defense as not only can he rush the passer from the edge but his sideline to sideline quickness makes him a force at linebacker against the run and covering tight ends. Parsons mentioned earlier in the week that no matter where he lines up his presence will be felt.
“I'm just out there. I'm going to make an impact. I don't believe it really should matter. I mean, you look at (Jalen) Ramsey. He played outside corner now he's playing nickel like…If you're a dog, you're going to be a dog,” Parsons said. “It shouldn't matter where you're at on the field. You should have unbelievable effort and the tenacity to go out there and try to win the game for the team.”
Seeing his success as a pass rusher has caused some people to start a campaign that Parsons be an edge rusher exclusively. That would be foolish on the Cowboys' part to put him in a box. When Lawrence returns, the Cowboys will have a good one-two punch coming off the edge with him and Randy Gregory. Yes, the Cowboys should still use Parsons to rush the passer once Lawrence is back, but taking linebacker duties away from him hurts the overall effectiveness he brings to the defense.
Not many defensive players come into the NFL with the set of tools that Parsons has. The Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of them all and let Parsons be a game-changer in multiple areas.