One of the pleasant surprises for the Dallas Cowboys last season was the performance of their defense. After putting out one of the worst units in franchise history during the 2020 season, the Cowboys hired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to oversee their defense and he got things turned around instantly.
Their defense became more dynamic, creating turnovers and making big plays. The defense finished the season with 26 interceptions, 11 by Trevon Diggs himself. They totaled 72 tackles for loss, 41 sacks and 114 quarterback hits.
Leading the way in those departments was rookie Micah Parsons. The Cowboys received a gift when he slipped down the draft board a little bit, landing in their laps with the 12th overall pick out of Penn State.
Parsons was a force on defense for Dallas, playing different positions and producing no matter what was asked of him. He took home the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, finished second in Defensive Player of the Year and received Pro Bowl and All-Pro recognition as well.
On the season, Parsons had 13 sacks and 30 quarterback hits to go with 84 total tackles, 20 of which went for a loss, three forced fumbles and three passes defended. He was excellent and in 2022, he has even loftier goals.
Parsons revealed that he has a friendly rivalry with teammate DeMarcus Lawrence. If Lawrence is a 10-sack guy, Parsons is aiming to double that.
That 20 sack number is one we have seen a few people hit in recent seasons. With a 17th regular-season game, records are going to start falling by the wayside. However, for Parsons, that is a difficult number to attain.
The thing that makes him so special is his versatility. As a result, head coach Mike McCarthy has said that Parsons will not be converted into a pass rusher exclusively full-time. They will deploy him all around the field again, which will make reaching the 20-sack plateau very difficult.
Parsons is disruptive when he is rushing the passer, evident by his 47 total pressures in 2021. However, unless his role is changed and he is unleashed full-time as a pass rusher, it is hard to see him reaching his huge goal.