Dallas Cowboys coaches love Micah Parsons’ ‘super power,’ along with everything else

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If you find yourself asking, How else will the Dallas Cowboys get rookie defensive sensation Micah Parsons involved to try to help the team win?, don’t bother.

They have already thought of it.

“He’s going to do everything,” said special team’s coach John Fassel. “He really wants to return kickoffs. He wants to be a backup punter. Probably wants to be quarterback. He’s just a really fun kid, I wouldn’t put anything past him. If we put him back there to return kickoffs he probably would do a pretty good job.”

As soon the words came out of Fassel’s mouth, the first thought was: They are going to kill this kid, let’s hope he is kidding.

The second thought was, “he probably could do it.”

Because at this point, two games into his pro career after being picked 12th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, the big question is what can’t he do?

In a 31-29 loss to Tampa Buccaneers, Parsons played 51 snaps as the middle linebacker, mugging the A gap, inside blitzing, rushing from the edge and covering backs and tight ends out of the backfield.

In Sunday’s 20-17 victory against Los Angeles Chargers, Parsons played exclusively as a defensive end for the first time since high school.

The Cowboys asked him to make the change with three practices days before the game following an injury to Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, meaning they would be without both starting ends since Randy Gregory was already in COVID-19 protocols.

Parsons had eight quarterback pressures and the team’s only sack. The eight pressures tied for first in the NFL. He had a 90.8 pass-rushing grade, per Pro Football Focus, tied for second among all defenders in the NFL.

He is the league’s highest-graded rookie after two games.

Simply put, he’s already the Cowboys best linebacker, best pass rusher and best defender.

And while the Cowboys initially were targeting a cornerback at the top of the draft in their quest to find a playmaker to overhaul a defense that was one of the worst in franchise history in 2020, there were no sad faces in the war room when they were forced to take Parsons.

“We thought [Micah Parsons] was the best defensive player in the draft, and that’s why we didn’t cut our throat when we didn’t get a corner,” colorful team owner Jerry Jones said in the only way he knows best.

So what’s the cut-throat plan for Parsons going forward, starting Monday against the Philadelphia Eagles?

As Fassel so eloquently stated, he will be doing everything.

Head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said they will continue to use Parsons as an edge rusher on both sides of the line and middle linebacker, but his main position is as the centerpiece of the Cowboys defense.

The key is using him at multiple positions to keep the defense guessing so they can’t game plan for him at one spot.

“He plays two positions,” McCarthy said. “He creates targeting challenges for the offense. We’ll maximize that opportunity the best we can. The game plan will answer that.”

Quinn said Parsons will continue to spend time working with the defensive line and the linebackers, studying film with both units.

Quinn also has separate one-on-one meetings with Parsons, who has also had a one-on-one pass rush summit with future Hall of Fame defensive end DeMarcus Ware, the team’s all-time leader in sacks.

“With Micah, I’m challenging him to find the things that he does really well and make sure that I don’t overload him,” Quinn said. “But I can find the exact things that I want him to get done. I’ve got great belief in him. I can’t wait to see where we’re going to take him, but I’ve got a high standard for him.”

He is already becoming the talk of the NFL.

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger said Parsons is better than he thought he was in college and the best player on the Cowboys defense.

“He is extremely better,” Baldinger said. “He didn’t look this good [in college]. He looked like he got lost at times. He is anything but lost. His instincts are better than I thought, so is his movement and versatility. He is an amazing player. If he stays healthy there is no telling what he can do.”

Baldinger has cut up tape on Parsons since the preseason. He said the Cowboys have built the entire defense around Parsons and he likes how Quinn is using him. More importantly, he is impressed with how well Parsons is handling it.

“When you put him in all these different spots and then have him calling the defense when he is at linebacker, that is a lot on anybody, especially a rookie,” Baldinger said. “Rookies can’t do that. But he is doing it.”

“If I thought they were overloading he wouldn’t be playing nearly as fast. He is playing fast and knows where the ball is. He must have tremendous instincts.”

Baldinger’s only disappointment is that he wants to see more of him. Parsons got 39 snaps as a primary passer rusher against Chargers after 51 against the Buccaneers. He says he has made the most of his opportunities.

“Watch the game. Study movement,” Baldinger said. “Micah moves so much faster than the other guys on the field. This guy just moves differently at that size. He affected that quarterback [Chargers QB Justin Herbert]. He is affecting the quarterback. If the first two games are an indication, the sky’s the limit. He is a future Pro Bowl player for sure. He is their best player.”

The Cowboys believe Parsons is only scratching the surface with his abilities. He only played two years at Penn State. He was a COVID-19 opt out in 2020.

And now is preparing to play just his third game since since the end of the 2019 season

What they know already they like, and they can’t get enough.

“He can run and hit like you know what,” Quinn said. “That’s his super power. And he’s got rare speed and physicality to do that. I want to make sure that we’re always featuring that part of his game.”

Just keep him away from Fassel and the kick return unit.