Cowboys’ Micah Parsons might match one among Corridor of Famer Lawrence Taylor’s most superb feats – Dallas Cowboys Weblog

FRISCO, Texas – Dan Quinn was like many New Jersey kids in the 1980s.

“LT was my favorite player, there is no doubt about that. I had the poster on the wall, the whole thing, ”said the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, who grew up in Morris Township, New Jersey. “Yes, he was the one who, when you were a young kid, was pretty stubborn in your defense. And I definitely admired it [New York Giants coach] Bill Parcells and the style and attitude the guys played with. “

LT is Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who played 13 seasons for the Giants after being drafted to 2nd overall in 1981. Forty years later, Quinn’s star student Micah Parsons is trying to become the first rookie to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award since Taylor did.

“Boy, that’s a good question. I dont know. I think we have four weeks to find out, ”Quinn said when asked if Parsons could win DPOY like Taylor did. The game is so cool it’s a cool thing. We just want Micah to be the best version of himself. “

Parsons’ trek to a possibly matching Taylor continues against Taylor’s former team, the Giants, at MetLife Stadium (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox) on Sunday. At the first meeting at the AT&T Stadium that season against the Giants, Parsons were credited with nine tackles and three quarterback pressures.

In the eight games since that week 5 meeting, Parsons has 9.5 sacks, which is what Taylor had in 1981 when sacks were not an official NFL statistic.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick coached the Giants linebackers during Taylor’s rookie year. What does he remember about it?

“His dominance,” said Belichick. “The greatness of Lawrence Taylor. It’s bigger, stronger, faster, more explosive. Even if he didn’t really know what he was doing, instinctively he is at the top of the list as a footballer. “

Belichick remembers Taylor’s first workout. It was used in all four phases of the kick game and could not be stopped. He even worked as a gunner on the punt coverage team. He was on the kickoff return team. He said Taylor’s play on the punt team was a big reason the Giants beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs that year.

Taylor’s career was transcendent.

“There is no one I can really fit into their category that I’ve coached,” said Belichick. “There may be others I haven’t trained, but I think he’s way ahead of the next player. And I’ve been fortunate enough to coach a lot of great, great defensive players, but when you talk about Lawrence Taylor that’s a whole different conversation now. I mean, to be honest, he could have played any position in defense except in the corner. He probably could have played corners too, but safety, linebacker, inside, outside, defensive end, defensive tackle. He used to play nose guards in North Carolina, so put him wherever you want. “

Parsons has also shown versatility as a linebacker and on the defensive. His snaps between charging the passer and playing in pass cover were pretty evenly split. When Parsons is part of the pass rush, the Dallas Defense allows a QBR of 18 and puts pressure on over 40% of the dropbacks. This corresponds to the best defense in the league in both departments. It’s also better than defending the Browns with Myles Garrett, Steelers with TJ Watt, and Rams with Aaron Donald.

Comparisons to Taylor are inevitable, but even Parsons won’t hear that.

“It is really too early. I could see the similarities, but LT was completely different, ”said Parsons. “It’s an honor that people are doing this. But to be compared to a Hall of Famer this early on, I mean it isn’t ready to have a conversation just yet. I still have a long way to go. He had a 142 [sacks] So I have 130 bags left before we say it’s LT. So let’s just chill out. Keep enjoying the work I have to do to get there. “

The question is not whether Parsons will be the next Taylor, but whether his rookie season is on track to be among the best for a defender.

Linebackers Derrick Thomas, Mike Croel, Brian Urlacher, Kendrell Bell, Terrell Suggs, Shawne Merriman, Patrick Willis and Von Miller won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Parsons has more sacks than anyone but Suggs, who had twelve in 2003, and Parsons has four games remaining. At his current rate, only Willis will have more tackles (136) than Parsons.

The 12 bags from Parsons are a beginner’s record for cowboys. He’s had at least one sack in six straight games, just behind the eight straight games Jevon Kearse had in 1999, his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans, when he set the rookie record with 14.5 sacks.

Only Julius Peppers (13), Reggie White (13) and Leslie O’Neal (12.5) had more sacks in their first 13 games.

Aside from sacks, Parsons has more impressive numbers.

  • He has 75 tackles and 17 tackles for the loss, which is the same for the standings.

  • According to Pro Football Focus, Parsons put the quarterback under pressure 55 times in 255 pass rushes (21.6%). Only Bucs linebacker Devin White has a higher percentage (26.95%).

  • Parsons also has a run-stop percentage of 10.8%, the third best in the league, according to PFF.

The last player with at least 12 sacks and 75 tackles in the first 13 games of a season was Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (15 sacks, 80 tackles) in 2008 when he was named Defensive Player of the Year, defeating DeMarcus Ware . the all-time sacked cowboy leader.

“My motto is always: ‘Dominate or bedominied’,” said Parsons. “I’ve been saying that since high school. Either you stand in front of someone and they will beat you up for 60 minutes or you will beat them up. There is nothing in between. “

The Cowboys weren’t even home 24 hours after last week’s 27:20 win over Washington Football Team, which Parsons had two sacks of, including one who forced a fumble that resulted in Dorance Armstrong being closed a touchdown returned when Quinn heard from the rookie.

“Here’s what I love about him, I got a text message this morning, ‘What do we have this week?’ So that tells me he’s looking for a challenge and what we have to do, ‘”Quinn said. “I said, ‘Hey man, I’m still rating this game so I’ll get back to you. Give me a minute. ‘ It’s 9:30 a.m. ‘I’ll get back to you.’ But I think this attitude shows that he is ready to go. “

Parsons saw Taylor’s highlights. He said he was arguably the best defensive player, although Belichick would tell him to remove “probably” from the description.

Parsons hasn’t met or spoken to Taylor yet, but he’d happily do it if possible. He wants to know what he thought, how he thought.

They may have a lot in common.

“I have a feeling you either got it or not,” said Parsons. “It comes from inside me. That drive that I have inside of wanting to be great, wanting to do more, have more on my plate just comes with a desire to do so. I always talk about my fate. I feel determined to do this. And that’s why I invested so much time. I just wanna be a winner. I want to be something. I don’t think anyone can become something by leaning back and [watching] and wait for something to happen. I am trying to initiate this. “

ESPN NFL Nation Patriots reporter Mike Reiss contributed to this report.

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