Why reward T.J. Watt when Cowboys’ Micah Parsons is making history?

Cowboys, T.J. Watt, Micah Parsons

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – NOVEMBER 08: T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts during warm up before a game against the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field on November 08, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

It’s Week 17 of the NFL season and Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker Micah Parsons is not only “in talks” to be NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but is now one of the top two candidates.

According to WynnBet, as of this week, Parsons sits at +240 to win the award, only behind Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (+145). To get there, Parsons has outplayed the likes of Aaron Donald, Myles Garrett, both Bosas, and teammate Trevon Diggs.

Sure. Watt is having yet another great year. There is no taking that away from him. He has 17.5 sacks, 40 solo tackles, and four forced fumbles. But, last season, he had a similar 15.0 sacks and 43 solo tackles. The linebacker is good. But, he’s good every year. Parsons has 13 sacks, 60 solo tackles, and three forced fumbles.

Steelers T.J. Watt vs Cowboys Micah Parsons breakdown for Defensive Player of the Year

Plus, there is no “last year” for Parsons. He didn’t have a rookie slump. The 22-year-old continues to make history in his first year as he carves the path to potentially becoming only the second player ever (Lawrence Taylor) to win Defensive Player of the Year as a rookie.

Cowboys’ Micah Parsons historic year should not be ignored in Defensive Player of the Year talks

The above tweet is just one impressive stat. The Penn State product also won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for the second month in a row for December.

Let’s also remember that this award Watt and Parsons are after is for Defensive Player of the Year – not sack leader of the year.

Parsons has been seen all over the field making plays anywhere from linebacker to cornerback to defensive end. The kid’s versatility makes him a player unlike one the NFL has seen in a long time, rookie or not. He even received incredibly high praise from NFL execs in both the AFC and NFC before he made the Pro Bowl roster.

Plus, Parsons’ 13 sacks on the season put him only 1.5 sacks behind the all-time rookie record set by Jevon Kearse in 1999. According to Pro Football Reference, there are only seven other players in the league’s history who have amassed more than 13 sacks, three defended passes, three forced fumbles, and 75 total tackles.

PFF has him listed as the highest-graded linebacker in football, and his 92.7 pass-rush grade has him tied with Garrett and only .2 behind Donald – two defensive giants whose sole job is to pass rush. The rookie is proving himself and continues to show he is hungry for more.

This may be a Cowboys site. But, it’s really difficult to argue with these numbers.

Has Defensive Player of the Year favorite T.J. Watt been slipping recently, while Parsons continues to climb?

According to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reporter Adam Bittner says Watt has been just “ordinary for the better part of a month and a half.” Sure. There are injuries involved. But, in the Steelers’ Week 16 matchup against the Chiefs, Watt had his second-worst PFF grade of 50.6. That marks the fourth time he’s been graded below 70.0 in the last five games.

Bittner goes on to say Watt hasn’t been “the $112-million man at the moment.” Not the kind of words you typically hear about someone who is the odds-on favorite to win a massive NFL award.

Again, we aren’t trying to discredit Watt and his abilities as a linebacker. He is an amazing player. Watt is even close to breaking Michael Strahan’s non-rookie sack record in a season of 23 sacks. But at this point, it seems borderline disrespectful to ignore the historical season Parsons is having, no matter how many years he has played in this league.

The rookie hasn’t just been great. He’s been historic. And his stats put him up there with the names of all-time NFL legends.