Comparing Cowboys’ Micah Parsons historic start to other NFL legends

Dallas Cowboys (Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys (Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

After 12 games, it’s safe to say the Dallas Cowboys love Micah Parsons

We all know the saying, “defense wins championships.” It’s no wonder the Dallas Cowboys haven’t had much success since their 1996 Super Bowl run. America’s Team has been offense-heavy. But, now, the 12th overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, Micah Parsons, plans on changing that.

The Penn State product entered the draft with general managers salivating at the opportunity to field him – at least we thought. Some expected the linebacker to be a top-five pick, but he ultimately slipped right into general manager Jerry Jones’ lap.

A Cowboys “failure” turned into success on Draft Day

The Dallas Cowboys were in the market for a star cornerback. Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II were likely their top targets, but they got selected back-to-back exactly two spots before Jerry Jones got his turn. The Hall of Fame general manager needed to improvise.

Let’s not forget the trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, that got the Cowboys a third-round selection to drop from tenth to 12th. I still can’t believe Jones pulled that off. We can safely say that was a steal.

To start the season, Parsons played at linebacker. It only took him two games to notch his first career sack. It was a controversial one, but it still helped the Cowboys secure a win.

Cowboys’ Micah Parsons season is history in the making

Parsons split his snaps between playing on the edge (in the absence of DeMarcus Lawrence) and at linebacker to defend the pass. His snaps off the line of scrimmage have been impressive, but his work outside his college position has been historic.

In 12 games, the rookie accumulated 10 sacks, 72 tackles, two passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Oh, and don’t forget his league-leading 16 tackles for loss.

Parsons has already belittled the rookie season of Cowboys legend DeMarcus Ware. Parsons now holds the lead for the most sacks by a Cowboys rookie. As a rookie, Ware finished with 8.0 sacks and 58 tackles … in 16 games.

The Harrisburg native is the first player since James Harrison to eclipse 70+ tackles and 10+ sacks in the first 12 games of the season. His current pace has the potential to reach another historic mark. Bruce Smith recorded 100+ tackles and 14+ sacks back in 1993, and Parsons has a chance to meet or exceed those impressive totals, too.

The hybrid defender ranks atop the NFL in many pass-rushing categories despite only rushing the passer part-time. He is tied for eighth in sacks, tied for fourth in quarterback hits, tied for the league lead in tackles for loss, and tied for third in quarterback pressures.

The rookie’s work as a pass rusher overshadows his work in coverage, which has been respectable. He has yet to pick off a pass but is only allowing a 63.3 percent completion percentage and a 76.4 passer rating. That’s in addition to not giving up a touchdown and defending two passes.

The kid has surpassed every expectation anyone put on him. The talks of Parsons winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year award is over. He has officially inserted himself into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.

If that happens, that’s more history under the youngster’s wings. He would become the first player in Dallas Cowboys to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and only the second player in Cowboys history (Harvey Martin, 1977) to win Defensive Player of the Year.

But, it doesn’t stop there. Winning the Defensive Player of the Year award would make Parsons only the second player in NFL history to win the trophy as a rookie. The other player? Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

If you have watched Dallas play, then you already know Micah Parsons has been a dominant force in the NFL. All the accolades listed are within reach and would put the rookie on an early path to the Hall of Fame.

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I have spent far too long watching a dominant offense get dragged down by poor defense. Parsons is the man to lead the group back to a respectable unit. What better way to be rewarded for your efforts than to win one of the most coveted awards in the NFL.