It seems like every week, especially since the beginning of November, the football world is in awe of how good Linebacker Micah Parsons is. The 12th overall pick had his third multi-sack game of the season against the Washington Football Team in Week 14 taking his total to 12 with four games left.
Parsons has racked up 9.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits, and three forced fumbles over the last six games which has all but guaranteed he'll be crowned the Defensive Rookie of the Year and has catapulted him into a serious contender for Defensive Player of the Year.
In the storied history of the NFL, only one player that has won both of those awards in their rookie season, Hall of Fame Linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1981. Parsons has begun to draw comparisons to Taylor, who many believe is the greatest defensive player of all time. However, he wants to have his own identity.
“I think LT is one of the greatest pass rushers of all time, but I want to be my own person,” Parsons said. “My own man. I want people to be like, ‘You pass rush like Micah.'”
Parsons is doing a great job of making that a reality. His 12 sacks equal such notable former rookies as Hall of Famer Charles Haley, Julius Peppers, and Terrell Suggs and put him just three sacks away from breaking the NFL's rookie record of 14.5 set by Jevon Kearse in 1999.
MICAH PARSONS IS UNREAL.
Forces the fumble that's returned for a Cowboys TD 💪
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 12, 2021
The lion is HUNGRY!!!#DALvsWAS |📺 : @NFLonFOX #ProBowlVote @MicahhParsons11 pic.twitter.com/fkQcU8ltJo
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 12, 2021
To further put into perspective how dominant Parsons has been lately, his 31 quarterback pressures rank third in the NFL over the last six games although his 130 pass-rush snaps rank 71st according to Pro Football Focus.
Parsons has had the luxury of learning from one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in teammate DeMarcus Lawrence, who took him under his wing during the offseason. Also, future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware, who played for the Dallas Cowboys for nine seasons (2005-2013), said that he saw something special in Parsons after working with him during HBO's Hard Knocks.
The knowledge he's soaked in has led to a rookie season for the ages for Parsons, and he recently mentioned that the NFL isn't as difficult as he was told before he was drafted, especially when it comes to offensive linemen stopping him. However, he realizes that going up against top-notch competition in practice helps a lot.
“I don't really think the NFL is hard,” said Parsons. “I think they got some really great players around here. But I just think it's a bunch of players that work really hard, and I think it rubs off whenever you [practice against] guys like La'el [Collins]. When I'm going against La'el and I'm challenging him every down, saying, ‘What could I do there? How can I make this better?'
“Or, I'm going against Zack [Martin], and I'm just getting those opportunities, it really just makes those guys [on other teams] not look as good.”
The Cowboys' defense has gotten back several key pieces over the last few weeks that will free up Parsons to be even more effective. The aforementioned Lawrence, who missed 10 games with a broken foot, has played in the last two games and had a sack and a forced fumble against Washington last week. Randy Gregory picked up where he left off with a sack, an interception, and a forced fumble against Washington after missing four games with a calf injury. Second-year Defensive Tackle Neville Gallimore made his season debut in Week 14 after suffering an elbow injury during the preseason and recorded a sack.
This makes the Cowboys' pass rush extremely formidable as they look to wrap up the NFC East in the next game or two and push for the top seed in the NFC playoffs (currently one-game back). After getting his teammates back and getting a big division win, Parsons feels it's just the start of what they can do defensively.
“The best is yet to come,” said Parsons after beating Washington. “This is our first game having us all back and I think we all should be excited. I mean, there were a lot of turnovers that we created out there. We did score on defense today.
“I think it's just the beginning. I think we have a long journey ahead and I think the more you guys see us playing together, the more you guys will understand what I'm saying.”
The scary thing for offenses around the NFL is that Parsons is a rookie so he's only going to get better, and they'll be sleepless nights for their offensive coordinators for years to come as far as putting together a game plan for him.