As the NFL bestowed its Players of the Month awards for September, fans of the Dallas Cowboys expected a familiar name on the defensive side of the ball to be found among them.
While the name was indeed recognizable, it was not the one for which the fanbase had hoped.
Despite being one of the most important components of the Cowboys defense, linebacker Micah Parsons did not capture the month’s honor, which ultimately went to Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White.
Needless to say, Dallas’ faithful were less than enamored with the league’s choice.
White recorded 24 tackles, three sacks, two passes defensed and a forced fumble as part of a Buccaneers defense that led the NFL in scoring defense (nine points per game allowed) in September. Parsons, on the other hand, has compiled 10 total tackles, four sacks and 0.5 stuffs through the first three games of 2022.
Though White may have won the statistical battle, Parsons’ impact on the Cowboys defensive strategy and success may make him the more valuable commodity to his team.
And this week ... he's healthy. "Night and day,'' he said of the difference from this week to last, when he was dealing with cold/flu symptoms. "I'm ready.''
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In Dallas’ 23-16 victory over the New York Giants on Monday, Parsons was held to only one tackle. However, the Penn State product was double-teamed at the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game. Like so many teams before had realized, the Giants identified him as the primary threat massive to their offense. As such, they sought to stop him by any means possible. While they may have held him to a statistical standstill, his occupying at least two offensive blockers on each play allowed several of Dallas’ other defenders the freedom to make plays.
Few if any of the NFL’s defenders command the attention which Parsons has from opposing offenses. In fact, Parsons trails only Buffalo Bills’ linebacker Von Miller and Cleveland Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett as the highest-graded edge defenders by Pro Football Focus at 91.3.
Although he may have been passed over as September’s top defender, Parsons is no stranger to accolades. The 23-year-old was named a first team All-Pro by the Associated Press, earned a Pro Bowl nod and was chosen as the unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year after being selected by the Cowboys in the first round (12th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Still, as Dallas continues to prepare for their Week 4 matchup with the Washington Commanders, Parsons will be singularly focused on his opponent, rather than missed opportunities. By continuing to help the Cowboys collect wins, Parsons provides a value to his team that goes far beyond either the stat sheet, or any individual honors.
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