Micah Parsons is the backbone of the defense; we all know that, but a player who does not get enough credit is Dorance Armstrong. He was at the top of my list as the most underrated player on the roster heading into this season.
Drafted in 2018 out of Kansas, Armstrong found himself right in the middle of some big defensive plays Sunday. He registered the first ever multi-sack game of his career; two of the six sacks on Joe Burrow came from Armstrong, a good start to the 2022 campaign.
So let me transition to a point I made early this off-season: the production from Armstrong would be fine when trying to replace Randy Gregory. He had one less sack than Gregory did a season ago and started six fewer games.
Dorance Armstrong took Drew Sample's lunch on one of his career-best two sacks against the Bengals. Jonah Williams tries to help but it's too late.
The meal was already stolen. #Cowboys pic.twitter.com/o6yWHjAU0F
Armstrong started five of the 13 games he appeared in a season ago and had career highs in tackles (37), sacks (5), and quarterback hits (12). Through the first couple of games this season, he has six tackles, two sacks, and two quarterback hits.
The two-year $13 million contract Armstrong signed in March already looks promising. Playing alongside Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence will continue to open up chances for him to make big plays. He not only rushes the passer well, but he also plays the run very effectively. That is the part of Dan Quinn's defense that needs to improve, no doubt about it.
If anyone had questions about the role Armstrong would play with Dante Fowler and rookie Sam Williams in the mix, I think Sunday should settle those for at least the time being. Fowler played very well when he was on the field Sunday too.
All three will occasionally rotate; you might have a few inconsistent games from Armstrong if he goes up against higher-quality offensive linemen or if one of the others is having a better day.
A product of the worst offensive line in football for the Bengals also certainly had something to do with the Cowboys generating six total sacks on Burrow, two of which came from Armstrong. Nonetheless, he will continue to reap the benefits of playing next to a possible defensive player of the year in Parsons and a former All-Pro who is now healthy in Lawrence.
Armstrong has a higher ceiling than people think; the guy can get after the football; he is a speed rusher with some power (see video above). The fact he finished third in sacks a season ago and only appeared in a chuck of games shows the type of player he has become.
He should get to double-digit sacks this season, and I anticipate he will finish second behind Parsons for most on the team.
The Cowboys' defense will go as far as Parsons and Dan Quinn take them, but seeing production from guys like Armstrong, who the Cowboys spent much less money on to keep, is a bonus. I hope the defense can stay healthy because they will compete in every game if the starters remain on the field.