Richard Rodriguez is a photographer.
The Cowboys' offense is usually the topic of conversation in Dallas. People are talking about the passing of a person. The running of a man. The pass-catching of two people.
The conversation is changing in 2021. A defensive player is in the spotlight. Fans and pundits alike have been enamored with the versatility, athletic and ferociousness of the 12th overall pick in the draft. The defensive rookies of the year will be named on February 10, and the one who will be named Defensive Freshman of the Year will be the one named by the league.
We need to have another conversation. A talk about a different title for the former Penn State player. DROY is one of the awards that Parsons has won in Los Angeles.
The defensive player of the year in 2021 could be Parsons.
The Cowboys moved to 8-4 on the season and added to their lead on Washington in theNFC East with Thursday's 27-17 win over the New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys offense couldn't run the ball consistently and managed a relatively modest 377 total yards, but it was the Dallas defense that carried the day.
They carried it. Dallas limited the Saints to a single touchdown in the first 57 minutes while forcing four turnovers and notching two sacks. The star of the show this season has been, as has been the case many times, the man himself.
In the game, he had five tackles, two solo, a sack, a tackle for loss and two QB hits. The 6'3", 245-pounder spent more time in the New Orleans backfield than Mark Ingram II did.
The sack put him in a very rarefied state.
There are statistics and information from the ESPN Stats andInfo.
The 1st player with 70 tackles and 10.0 sacks through his team's 1st 12 games is Micah Parsons. He's on pace for over 100 tackles and 14.0 sacks. Bruce Smith was the last player to do both.
Thursday's game was not an outlier. The win over the Saints was the eighth game this season in which the defensive end had at least half a sack. He has at least one sack in five straight contests.
The rookies aren't supposed to be this dominant soon. It's easy to make it look easy on a big stage. There's one person who hasn't been surprised by the rampage that has left jaws on the floor, and that's Parsons himself.
"Let the eyes be on me," he said. I was already prepared for the moment, so it won't change anything. Some people are born with it. I think I was born for it and I need to play like that.
The craziest part of the impression that has been made of the movie is the fact that it has been played for 12 games. This isn't the role Dallas drafted him to play.
This isn't to say that he didn't have pass-rushing chops. Dallas didn't have a plan to get after the quarterback. But he was expected to be an off-ball linebacker. To play outside.
The Cowboys were decimated by injuries on the edge, so they kicked him outside, sometimes standing up, other times with a hand in the dirt.
After opting out of the 2020 season at Penn State, he was thrown into a new position as a result of being drafted into the NFL. He has been very dominant.
This doesn't happen. The plot of a movie is not the reality of the league.
Guess who is surprised?
"I challenge myself every week to go out there and be great and find a way to impact the game, whether that's at end or linebacker," he said. I feel like it shouldn't matter where I am. I need to find a way to make money. Help my team win. I'm hungry to be great.
The talk is being given by Parsons. And walks. Matt Bowen, a former safety in the National Football League, watches film to see a player who looks nothing like a rookies.
He has developed his hand usage, his technique, and his high-level traits, which jumps out to me. A lot of guys have high levels of intelligence. They can't get home to the quarterback because they can't create separation. You can see that and then you can see his high-level qualities. His ability to bend is ridiculous. The short-area speed is more important than the long-area speed for pass-rushers. You're done when he closes.
That's what it is. We have to stop thinking of him as a new person. He'll win the Defensive Freshman of the Year. He's playing as well as any defender in the league. Period.
Jonathan Bachman is a photographer.
Is there other deserving candidates? Yes. A 20-sack season is on pace for the Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett. T.J. Watt was runner-up for the award last year and has been an impact player on the field in 2021. In the game against New Orleans, the teammate of Parsons', Trevon Diggs, had his ninth pick up of the season. Donald is a player for the Rams. Reddick is a player for the panthers. Many defensive players are having great seasons.
There is a list of rookies playing at a DPOY level while playing two positions. As important as any of those veterans are, Parsons is as important to his team.
There is still a lot of football to be played. The "rookie wall" looms over him. He isn't hearing about a fade in the second half.
"People always talk about the rookies wall, but I just keep climbing and climbing because I'm excited to see what's on the other side of that wall," he told reporters.
The man climbed all over the Saints on Thursday. He offered this bit of wisdom during a Fox Sports interview.
A wise man once said that the great ones figure it out.
He seems to have figured out football. The next thing that will have to be figured out is where to put a couple of big trophies.