Dallas Cowboys: Micah Parsons needs to be a chess piece – not a fixture

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Quick show of hands: Where is Micah Parsons the most valuable, on the edge or as a linebacker? After seeing the rookie from Penn State utterly dominate as an edge rusher, I imagine most people would say he’s most valuable on the line. And I’d be hard-pressed to argue against it.

Let’s follow that question up: Where is Micah Parsons needed the most, on the line or off-ball? Things get a little trickier here, don’t they? With DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory out again, Dallas desperately needs an edge rusher who can win. And Parsons just happens to be the best pass-rusher in the NFL right now.

The linebacker position is in similar dire straits. Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal are hardly the shining lights we expected them to be this season and both are liabilities on any given down. And with Jaylon Smith properly dispatched and Jabril Cox out for the year, there aren’t a whole lotta options other than Parsons.

So to ask which unit needs him more, the answer is really, “both.”

The Dallas Cowboys need to use Micha Parsons as a chess piece and move him around throughout each game.

Micah Parsons is still extremely raw in his development as a pass-rusher. Something I note every game he plays on the edge, is how he doesn’t seem to rush with a plan and often relies on natural freakish ability and some well designed moves rather than strategy. That may not sound like a big deal but veteran pass-rushers almost always use strategy in their game-plans.

Moving Parsons around and deploying him in unpredictable places is the best way to avoid offenses from scheming against him.

Much like an offensive coordinator uses some plays to set up other plays, pass-rushers do as well. Micah seems to explode, read, and react each play. Which is fine (I mean it’s gotten him the highest pressure rate in the NFL for goodness sakes) but there’s so much room for improvement, his ceiling is frightenly high.

Most Important Position

It’s obvious the value of an edge player is higher than that of an off-ball linebacker. Linebacker is one of the most easily replaceable positions on the field and towards the bottom in most positional value charts.

It’s why half of Cowboys Nation threw a fit when Dallas seemed to spend another first round pick on one last April, and it’s why that same disgruntled half is now much more “gruntled” seeing him play this unforeseen role of pass-rusher. So Micah be a full-time DE, right?

Not so fast…

Chess Piece

Even if Micah Parsons is more valuable as a DE, a full commitment may not be the best way to go. Teams can prepare and adapt to Parsons. He himself said he was getting sick of being chipped and doubled every down and welcomed the return of Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence.

Moving Parsons around and deploying him in unpredictable places is the best way to avoid offenses from scheming against him. Teams are trying to attack Dallas’ linebackers in coverage so why not drop Parsons back from time to time and keep them from picking on LVE whenever they want?

Parsons is also an elite short-yardage run-stopper from the LB position. He should be playing off-ball in all of these situations. It’s much harder to stop him in these situations, roaming behind the line, than it is to neutralize him as an edge fixture.

Parsons has also shown the ability to penetrate the A-gap from a variety of starting spots. Just because he’s lined up as a off-ball LB pre-snap, does not mean that has to be his role on the play. He can slide in as a 3-tech, blitz the A-gap, or even loop outside with a stunting DE. The options are aplenty.

The key is to make him as hard to prepare for as possible. He’s proficient in so many areas you can move him without sacrificing snaps for the sake of just setting something up.

Next. The Cowboys are among the lowest in the NFL in this offensive category. dark

Micah Parsons has exceeded all expectations and the Dallas Cowboys have wisely played to his many strengths. While pass-rusher is by far the most impactful role he plays, he can actually maximize production by moving around to seemingly less impactful locations throughout a game.

  • Published on 11/25/2021 at 14:02 PM
  • Last updated at 11/25/2021 at 14:02 PM