From a defensive perspective, the success of the 2022 season was always going to come down to one man. One man’s usage would determine whether or not the Dallas Cowboys were above average or below average. It wasn’t the player himself who was in question, but rather the deployment of said player.
In case you haven’t guessed, Micah Parsons is the player in which I speak.
Parsons broke onto the scene as rookie, establishing himself as one of the most dominant pass-rushers in the game. An injury to DeMarcus Lawrence forced the linebacker into an EDGE role early and Parsons rewarded the Cowboys with one of the best pressure rates the NFL has seen in years.
But when Lawrence eventually returned to the Cowboys later in the season, Parsons moved back to more of an off-ball role. Sure, he kept rushing the passer, it just no longer constituted the bulk of his responsibilities.
That fostered a fear that if the roster was completely healthy, the Dallas Cowboys would prefer to use him more off-ball, and less EDGE. Thus minimizing his impact as a generational pass-rusher.
Anthony Barr adds more depth to the Dallas Cowboys linebacker room, freeing Micah Parsons to be used as a pass-rusher
Before training camp, we didn’t know what to expect from the Dallas Cowboys defense. With Randy Gregory gone, we knew there was a hole at EDGE and no matter what the front office told us about Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler. The vacancy was a concern.
Takk McKinley coming for a visit didn’t do anything more than highlight that concern. If the Dallas Cowboys had successfully retained Gregory in the offseason, would they have even kicked the tires on McKinley? I’m thinking, no.
Parsons has always been the obvious solution, even if he just plays EDGE in a situational capacity.
The biggest concern was the depth at linebacker may make it difficult to use Parsons to his fullest as a pass-rusher. With just Leighton Vander Esch and Jabril Cox as viable starters at linebacker, the unit was far from stable. Cox was inexperienced and coming off a major injury and LVE has a history of injuries.
It stands to reason if one of them fell, Parsons would be stuck at LB out of shear need. Those fears were eased when the Dallas Cowboys signed Anthony Barr.
Barr, similar to Parsons, is part-time EDGE and part-time off ball-LB. He has a sorted injury history but in a rotation should be able to provide some insulation for Parsons.
The Cowboys don’t lean on the LB position often. It’s rare to see more than two LBs on the field at the same time. Dan Quinn uses his nickel and SAF/LB Jayron Kease is a key tool in that. The group of LVE, Cox, Barr, and Kearse should be able to free Parsons to move around. We expect to see traditional LB snaps from Parsons, but he won’t be stuck there like we once feared.
The signing of Anthony Barr is significant because it helps the Dallas Cowboys maximize Micah Parsons.