In case you didn’t know by now, 2021 wasn’t a lucky year for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Micah Parsons.
Parsons, who won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and ranked second in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year vote last season, is who we thought he was.
And with two games in 2022, he looks set to be what he wants to be: the best player in the NFL.
What we know now is that Parsons is a problem for opposing crimes.
After watching Parsons smash the Bengals attack in the Dallas Cowboys win Sunday 20-17, Cincinnati coach Zack Taylor was not only a witness, but a true believer.
Parsons has two of six Cowboys sacks and scored 10 of 16 quarterback pressures from the Cowboys on Bengals star Joe Borough.
“Micah Parsons will be in the conversation with one of the best, if not the best, players to rush the pass,” Taylor said. “Only the way they can move him, the way he can tap and bend. It’s a real problem.”
It was a huge problem for the Bengals to properly handle Lyle Collins, who was bullied, spinning, turning and sprinting through the game by Parsons.
“He’s just a hell of a player,” Collins said. “That’s what it is.”
At the moment, there is no defender playing better to start the season and no player reckless in passing has ever been better in his career.
Parsons leads the NFL with four sacks in two games, breaking an NFL record 34th in the season.
The current score of 22.5 is shared by Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt.
There is plenty of season left to predict whether he will keep up with his current pace.
But if history is a teacher, Parsons does well to keep up.
With 17 sacks in 18 games since joining the Cowboys, Parsons is truly an all-time great. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, Aldon Smith has had the previous record for most sacks (16.5) in the first 18 games of his career.
Parsons’ four sacks in two games have tied for second place in Cowboys history with two games with DeMarcus Ware and DeMarcus Lawrence. Charles Haley had a 5.5 in his first two games in 1994.
Lawrence said Parsons is just getting started.
“He’s just being intentional about his job,” Lawrence said. “Micha is a great player with passing, his ability to get off the ball. All we ask is to take advantage of his chances. So Micah, keep going! Don’t stop!”
Parsons was simply unstoppable just yet.
In response to a question if Parsons has already made a name for himself as the best player in the league, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones has relegated to the linebacker.
“His performance speaks for itself now,” Jones said. “He’s doing a great job. He’s one of those players in the league when they break the hustle they look to see where No. 11 is.”
Against the Bengals, Parsons not only made it happen to himself, but set up his teammates for sacks. Defensive end Durance Armstrong had two, defensive end Dante Fowler had a tape sack and linebacker Leighton Vander Eshe had a sack.
It was a double and even triple team against the Bengals. He knows that opponents will continue to design plans to block their game plans to contain him.
“It feels totally fine. Every team is here,” Parsons said. “One lion can’t do it alone. You need to be proud. It’s as if 10 hyenas are chasing one lion, the lion may lose. The fact that I have 10 other guys I feel I can count on is what makes this boat spin. That was great for Leighton because I knew exactly we were going to set it up. We drew it knowing they were going to bump into me. This is just mastering the game plan. That’s just how they feed each other. This is teamwork.”
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said it’s something Parsons should get used to because he’s getting everyone’s attention right now.
“Believe me, when they play for the Dallas Cowboys, he’s probably the first to talk about him in their offensive room,” McCarthy said. “So they have a video, it has attention, it has a light on it. It’s brighter than ever. That’s all part of being successful in this league. Once people have your video, they have different ways to try and create phone booth stands because of Your ability to rush, it’s a whole different level of exposure that needs to keep working on. Because at the end of the day he’s just so annoying. They just won’t let him escape.”
Parsons primarily played the end rush against the Bengals. But as good as he is in the end, the Cowboys like to keep him moving to keep him guessing the offense, while also letting him do what he does best at linebacker.
“I think he’s an excellent example, the definition of an elite player,” McCarthy said. “Elite players make everyone around them better, both on and off the field. I think you see him growing in more ways than one. But yeah, he gets a lot of attention, whether he’s slipping into it. The philosophy of how to use Micah hasn’t changed. We have to keep creating challenges. Targeting for offense. His ability to play both on and off the line of scrimmage is a huge asset for us and he clearly gives us the opportunity to create matches from different approaches and different challenges. At the end of the day, we’re still trying to create chances for him. We won’t change our approach.”
This story was originally published September 20, 2022 5:00 p.m.