In the wake of the DeMarcus Lawrence injury and the Randy Gregory untimely COVID status, it’s understandable the Dallas Cowboys felt compelled to do something. Just earlier I spent time detailing how hard it would be for the Cowboys starters to get pressure on the Chargers, let alone tough for their back-ups (Tarell Basham and Dorance Armstrong).
So none of us should be surprised that Dan Quinn took his most gifted defensive player, Micah Parsons, and pushed him outside to play a position he once played back in the day, defensive end.
When the Dallas Cowboys first drafted Parsons, me and many others, were pounding the table to use him creatively. If he was only destined to play a traditional off-ball linebacker role, his talent and the premium pick would otherwise be wasted (positional value says as much).
Based on need, skillset, and the ability to disrupt, the Dallas Cowboys are wise to use Micah Parsons more on the edge.
What role Parsons will play on that edge and to what extent is tough to say. One can imagine he’ll be rushing from a slightly wider technique and be playing out of a 2-point stance like the hybrid he is. But until we see it in action we just don’t know. What we do know is that the Cowboys are making a concentrated effort to work him there more in practice this week.
As the title suggests, I consider this to be a good move. Not just from a positional value perspective but because it fills a major need on the team, it’s a more impactful role, and it’s something he’s better at.
How good was Micah Parsons in week 1? Pretty darn good for a rookie. He logged a 15.4 pass-rush win percentage which raked him in the top-5 for 2021 rookies and he offered up three pressures in 13 pass rush snaps giving him a pressure rate of 23.1 (best on the team).
His biggest area of concern is in coverage where he gave up six balls on eight targets for three first downs. Taking a few coverage snaps out of his hands the next couple weeks and letting him focus on his strengths may be the right move to make, given Dallas’ needs right now.
As many know, robbing Peter to pay Paul is dangerous business, and if we take Parsons out of his MIKE role, a lesser player will have to fill it – possibly Jaylon Smith. So the Dallas Cowboys have to be sure the value gained by moving Parsons makes up for the value lost by giving a lesser player more snaps at MIKE.
Based on the Week 1 numbers I’d say it is worth the move.
Ideally this isn’t a fulltime move to the edge. Parsons is worth the most to this defense as a chess piece. He needs to be moved around and play unpredictable roles in unpredictable places. That’s where he’ll make the biggest impact.
As I broke down earlier, using more 3-3-5 packages may be just what the doctor ordered (see link below). It allows Dallas to stay in nickel, disguise their pass-rush, and not force guys like Basham or Armstrong into starting roles. From this look, Parsons can rush from the edge or from the MIKE. We even saw him rush as a hybrid LB/3-tech this preseason (a 3-3-5 concept).
How much Micah Parsons plays on the edge is unknown and chances are we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out. But the move shouldn’t be surprising nor should it be feared. Parsons needs to be put in position to be impactful and that’s exactly what it looks like the Dallas Cowboys are doing.
How do you want to see Micah Parsons used?