The Cowboys defense struggled mightily in 2020, but Micah Parsons believes brighter days are ahead for defenders in Big D.
Dak Prescott’s absence cost the Cowboys a shot at the playoffs last season, but the failure of the Dallas defense to stop anyone only made matters worse. That’s a big reason why the team spent a first-round draft choice on Parsons to help strengthen their ineffective linebacker corps.
If nothing else, the former Penn State star isn’t short on confidence. He showed a lot of bravado with his recent comments on how effective his unit can be once it’s finally “unleashed.” In particular, Parsons believes the Cowboys’ coaching staff is still keeping their defensive schemes pretty simple to avoid showing opponents too much in advance of the regular season.
The Cowboys acquired Parsons to serve as their new starter at weakside linebacker. The team expects him to be more than just a solid starter though. Parsons flashed the ability to be an elite playmaker during his collegiate days at Penn State. Mike McCarthy and his staff see Parsons as a player who can force turnovers and make quality plays in the opposing backfield.
Cowboys: How much can Micah Parsons really boost this defense?
There’s a reason why linebackers aren’t typically drafted with high first-round picks. It requires exceptional athleticism to really become a difference-maker from the second level of the defense. Parsons will need to be the exception to that rule if he’s going to justify his lofty draft status.
Even if Parsons lives up to his pre-draft hype it may not be enough to meaningfully push the Cowboys’ defense forward. The inability of the team’s defensive line to generate consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback is a large potential problem for the defensive staff to overcome. Parsons might give the defense a little extra pop by pass-rushing from his weakside linebacker spot but that’s not going to move the needle for Dallas’ pass rush.
If Parsons is really going to be “unleashed” that will need to manifest itself in takeaways for his defense. He’s got the right combination of speed and athleticism to force turnovers at a high rate and the Cowboys need to stop drives by taking the ball away. That’s the best way for this defense to become a top-10 unit next season.
In the end, Parsons would be wise to stop making comments to the press and let his play on the field do the talking for him. He’s got plenty of talent, but working hard to create preseason hype won’t do him any favors when the regular season begins in earnest.