Micah Parsons at LB or DE? Cowboys just want ‘best version’ – Dallas Cowboys Blog


FRISCO, Texas – Technically, Micah Parsons remains a Dallas Cowboys linebacker.

It is there on the depth chart on the team’s press release.

It is there on Dallas’ website roster too: “LB Micah Parsons”

And Parsons believes he is still a linebacker.

“Yeah, I’m still looking for my interception. I need my interception,” Parsons said. “For sure. I’m still doing both.”

But have the Cowboys made Parsons a defensive end without telling anybody?

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn slightly chuckled at the question.

“Some weeks we do, but obviously that’s one of the things that really makes him strong,” Quinn said. “You saw some plays [Sunday against the Chicago Bears], he was definitely back off the ball playing some linebacker spots, so different packages help. Sometimes there’s three D-linemen and he’s the fourth. Sometimes there’s four D-linemen and he’s the fifth. Sometimes there’s five D-linemen and he’s the sixth.

“So having those different packages is important because it also makes the offense have to adjust in some different ways as opposed to just saying, ‘Well, OK, he’s over there, defensive end the whole time.’ The best version of him does allow him to move around a little more.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Parsons has averaged 11.4 snaps per game at inside linebacker this season. Parsons has 325 snaps on the line as an outside linebacker or edge player and eight times at defensive tackle.

He is the only player in the league with at least 275 snaps on the line and 20 at linebacker.

Last season, the majority of Parsons’ team rookie-record 13 sacks came at linebacker.

“I know Micah gets a lot of ‘Where is he going to play? What is he going to do?’” Quinn said. “I would recommend that anybody enjoys how he plays, not where he plays, because it’s not going to be the same. It’s not going to be the same the next week and the week after that. We can do the dance every week, but I’d say: more fun to watch how we attack and how we deploy guys as opposed to predicting where they’re going to be coming from because I don’t even know yet.”

The Cowboys had been able to shift how they use Parsons because of the arrival of veteran Anthony Barr.

“The reason being Anthony can play both on the line [and linebacker],” Quinn said. “You’ve seen Anthony play on the line and Micah back some, and vice versa. So you have to have enough pass-rushing ability to be on the line, which Anthony can do. Just having him and Leighton behind the ball really allows — these are two accomplished linebackers — allows us to move Micah around, some down, some back.”

But Barr suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the 49-29 win against the Bears and might miss time. The Cowboys went with rookie Damone Clark, who was making his season debut after undergoing neck surgery last March that the Cowboys initially thought could knock him out for the season.

Clark played 40 of 79 defensive snaps against the Bears and was credited with six tackles. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Clark topped out at more than 22 mph while tracking down Bears quarterback Justin Fields in the second half.

“Was it clean? No, it wasn’t clean,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He knows that. But we felt he did a lot of good things. It was really good for him to get that experience.”

McCarthy said he and Quinn had conversations about the trio of Parsons, Barr and Clark on Monday.

“That’s the beauty of having players with position flex,” McCarthy said. “Damone gives us position flex. And obviously we have to keep giving Micah some one-on-one opportunities.”

Maybe it doesn’t matter what position Parsons plays because he is producing.

“As a defense mindset, we’re trying to create mismatches,” Parsons said. “We’re trying to create openings. We’re just trying to take advantage. If that advantage is me showing up like I’m coming and they slide the front and next thing you know someone has a one-on-one on the back side, then we like that matchup.

“Guys we have on our team, that’s what we like. [If] that means that I’m dropping back into the curl and reading and reacting, then that’s what I got to do. Or if that’s me dealing with a double-team and I’m looping … The defensive mindset, you just love versatility and like moving things around.”

Source : ESPN