The Dallas Cowboys may have experienced a letdown in their disappointing Week 11 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but they undoubtedly remain legitimate Super Bowl contenders in a top-heavy NFC. Dallas' offense will be disappointed to have only produced nine points against a highly questionable Chiefs defense, but must quickly pick themselves up ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving home contest against the Las Vegas Raiders.
If Cowboys fans are searching for positive takeaways from Sunday's disappointment, look no further than the continued development of rookie defender Micah Parsons. The former Penn State standout was credited with four total tackles, a team-high two sacks, and three quarterback hits in the defeat. Parsons has now recorded a team-high eight sacks through 10 games, a truly absurd number for various reasons. Firstly, Parsons is often being utilized as a true pass rusher on the outside, a position he scarcely played at Penn State. Secondly, eight sacks in 10 games is an astounding amount of production for anybody, let alone a rookie that is acclimating to a new position.
Rookie pass-rushers rarely take the league by storm, but that's exactly what Parsons is doing despite finding himself in entirely new surroundings and situations. Parsons is impacting the pocket on what feels like a snap-by-snap basis, and Dallas would be wise to continue allowing him to pin his ears back and get after opposing quarterbacks.
The Cowboys initially decided to move Parsons to DeMarcus Lawrence’s regular spot on the right side of their defensive line out of pure desperation. A serious foot injury to Lawrence left Dallas paper-thin in the pass-rushing department, and so the Parsons experience began taking shape. The results have served as a stark reminder of why Dallas' front office was so high on Parsons to begin with. To provide context to just how productive Parsons has been, he currently leads all rookies in pass-rush win rate since 2006, via Pro Football Focus. He is a truly special talent with unicorn-like abilities.
Parsons is currently displaying many of the traits we identified on tape at Penn State. His closing burst and suddenness to attack the backfield are tremendous. He is truly a rare athlete with the short-area explosiveness necessary to move laterally and cover ground in a hurry. Parsons' fluid flexibility and body control in all directions have directly led to his newfound ability to rush the passer. He has strung together an impressive amount of pass-rushing moves in quick succession, including a swim move and the ability to bend underneath the outside shoulder of opposing offensive linemen.
The sky's the limit for the 2021 Cowboys and Parsons' impact as a pass rusher is a large reason why this team is capable of hoisting the Lombardi at SoFi Stadium in February.