Patrick [No C] Walker joined the Dallas Cowboys’ Digital Media Group in July 2022 as a staff writer and media personality after covering the NFL and the Cowboys in particular professionally since 2007.
He most recently did so for CBS Sports through 247Sports, where he also spent time delving into college recruiting – eventually becoming known for his level of uncompromising objectivity, recognized by many as his own unique brand of football ” science”.
Welcome to The Science Lab, a place where football facts and in-depth analysis always triumph over sentiment.
FRISCO, Texas – It’s always better to be great at one thing than to be good at several, but when you’re great at several, it’s always better not to settle for being great at just one. That’s the mystery draped over Micah Parsons’ shoulder pads, a deadly weapon in multiple positions – even Danny Glover and Mel Gibson couldn’t match.
But there are people outside the organization who are keen to see him demoted to exclusive duties as edge rusher, arguing that somehow it would be better if he was only asked to do one thing.
The glaring problem with that belief is that if done, it would have the counter-effect of making Parsons schematic infinitely more predictable, and that benefits opposing defensive coordinators and their quarterbacks. So while it’s logical to think, “Hey! If he can get 11 sacks on double duty in a season, he’d get double that if you remove half his order!” … you can’t do that.
That’s not how it all works.
The 2021 Butkus Award winner is currently on track to deliver an NFL-record 28 sacks in 2022, along with 59.5 quarterback hits and 127.5 quarterback pressure — numbers he likely won’t match ( but I mean it doesn’t feel wise to say that (it’s impossible when you’re talking about a generational talent like Parsons), but it gets to the bigger point:
Trying to fix what isn’t broken will often break it.
The fact of the matter is that things like the potential effects of a position/scheme change can’t be calculated or quantified in the vacuum of your living room, as there’s a long list of other variables that come into play the moment you pull the trigger on this Dyson – creating one butterfly effect that would be likely siphon part of Parsons’ effectiveness, rather than increasing it exponentially.
This is truly not addition by subtraction, but subtraction by subtraction, and it would multiply the ease of use for those who no longer have to wonder “Where’s Waldo?” on a weekly basis.
Waldo would only be in one of two locations instead of one of five, so plan accordingly.
Well, there’s admittedly something to be said for how much staff plays into this equation, because having a simpler blueprint against Parsons doesn’t automatically mean you have the tools to create it.
Some teams just have a box of Crayola and in this case it really doesn’t matter where you put Parsons on the field because he’ll turn them into a melted pile of Burnt Sienna.
But that brings us back to my original point: it becomes pretty obvious that, similar to Aaron Donald, probably nobody has the tools to keep Parsons at bay; and that’s to varying, unpredictable degrees in his current capacity as both a linebacker and an edge rusher, so don’t minimize the number of ways he can ruin an opponent’s game.
Just ask Daniel Jones and Brian Daboll if they’d rather know in advance where Parsons will line up at MetLife Stadium on Monday.
Spoilers: they certainly would.
This would probably make sense if the Cowboys couldn’t get a pass rush without putting Parsons on the defensive line full-time, but considering Dallas sacked Joe Burrow a total of six times (Parsons owned two of them), rumor has it they did You can also get pressure from others.
And at times when you need that extra rush in the game, send it up front, but that’s an adjustment that’s a lot harder to accommodate on the fly than a team that has no pre-game guesses at all. Dorance Armstrong had a career-high two-sack against the Bengals himself, Dante Fowler and Leighton Vander Esch also added to the tally, so even with Tarell Basham out injured for a few weeks, the hounds are unleashed.
Fowler had his best game of his young season in a Cowboys uniform, and there’s also, and obviously, something to be said for all-pro pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, known for contributing to that category and whatnot more importantly, with this pressure create sacks and TFLs (Tackles for Loss) by other players on the defensive front.
The addition of rookie second-round pick Sam Williams also figures in this discussion after losing Randy Gregory to the free hand (a third of a triumvirate offseason ointment on the right margin that saw Fowler signed and Armstrong includes ).
It all works very, very well for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as he not only has the talent and depth on his side of the ball to dominate and decide entire games, but also a justifiable reluctance to play Parsons as either a linebacker or an edge Rusher to undertake anything more than one game at a time.
The first-team All-Pro and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year split duties roughly 60/40 in Week 1 (twice dismissing Tom Brady) before pushing the limit in Week 2 for nearly all snaps (Firing Joe Burrow twice), which quickly disproves the theory that making him a full-time edge rusher would increase his sack counts exponentially.
His number of loads per game was also almost the same (he averaged a 7.5 in the first two games), and the beauty is that that kind of consistency is achieved without have to pick the hand weekly where Parsons will compete.
bottom line? Lions are at their best when they’re allowed to roam and hunt, not when put in a cage.