Micah Parsons is not Lawrence Taylor. That seems like a straightforward statement of fact, but everyone jumps down your damn throat if you dare to compare any NFL linebacker to Lawrence Taylor. That said, it would be accurate to say that on Sunday against the Washington Football Team, in this specific game, Micah Parsons played like Lawrence Taylor. This looks like some shit Lawrence Taylor would do:
Parsons’s strip sack of WFT quarterback Taylor Heinicke allowed Dorance Armstrong to score a touchdown and build the Dallas Cowboys’ early lead to 18-0. A couple of game minutes later, Parsons blew by WFT running back Antonio Gibson and flung Heinicke to the turf again.
That play gave Parsons 12 sacks on the season; he’s gotten to the quarterback at least once in each of the Cowboys’ last six games. Jevon Kearse holds the record for most sacks in a rookie season, with 14.5 in 1999. Parsons has four games remaining to try and tie or break it, and two of those games will be against the Giants and Washington. The first-round pick seems like a clear choice for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he’s played well enough to merit consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. Brian Baldinger’s excitable film breakdowns of Parsons’s play only make the case grow stronger.
The one issue with Micah Parsons is that he doesn’t also play on offense. Although the Cowboys led 24-0 at halftime, the WFT crawled back to within one score late in the fourth quarter, after Cole Holcomb’s pick-six of Dak Prescott. By that point, Heinicke had left the game due to injury—not from either Parsons sack, although he looked pretty battered after those, but from a play in which defensive lineman Neville Gallimore drove the WFT’s center into their own quarterback. It may have been a cumulative thing.
Although it’s inaccurate to say that Parsons dragged Heinicke all over the field until he begged out of the game, it’s absurdly fun to watch when he rushes the passer, and how he helps out his defensive teammates in their matchups as well. It’s rare to see a linebacker who moves around the field as quickly as he does. When he’s not going after the QB, he can play in coverage and tip a pass or hassle a tight end. This is the kind of versatile player that the Arizona Cardinals tried to draft for seemingly five straight years.
Parsons hasn’t sacked the QB as often as T.J. Watt or Myles Garrett, but he’s bringing pressure at a more consistent rate. Though he might be getting compared to Lawrence Taylor, Parsons has bigger goals in mind. “I think LT is one of the greatest pass rushers of all time, but I want to be my own person,” Parsons said to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio. “My own man. I want people to be like, ‘You pass rush like Micah.’”