Giants running back Saquon Barkley is obviously very familiar with the play of former Penn State teammate and current Dallas Cowboys budding star Micah Parsons' play.
Whether the same can be said about Barkley’s familiarity with Hall of Fame Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, to whom Barkley compared Parsons, is another story.
“I’ve never really seen anything like him. He’s LT-like, to be honest,” Barkley said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports as part of the Gatorade Player of the Year announcements. “He’s insane. Every week, he’s one of those guys that, even if I can’t watch his game, I’ll look and say, ‘What is he doing?’
“And I am not just saying this because we’re friends. The sky is really the limit with him. If he keeps working hard and keeping his head on straight, he can be even better than he is now. That’s the scary thing.”
Parsons, chosen by the Cowboys No. 12 overall (one spot after the Giants would have selected in the 2021 draft had they not traded down with the Bears from No. 11 to No. 20), is having a banner rookie season that puts him very firmly in the mix for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Parsons has 12 sacks on the season, 2.5 short of the all-time rookie record of 14.5 by Jevon Kearse in 1999, a record that’s certainly within reach. He also has at least one sack in six straight games, which is the longest streak by a rookie since Kearse's eight-game run in his rookie season.
But as for this talk of Parsons being “LT-like,” Barkley's comparison might be a bit premature.
Taylor was always in a class by himself, a player who was so dominant that some of the great NFL coaches of that era, including Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs, had to invent new ways to slow down Taylor’s pass-rushing prowess.
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Walsh realized that neither a tight end nor running back could slow down Taylor, so he assigned a quick-moving offensive lineman (guard John Ayers) to the task, believing that Ayers would be a better option.
And Gibbs, another creative genius in his era, came up with a two-tight end “H-back” formation to try to slow Taylor’s charge.
Taylor finished his Hall of Fame career with 132.5 sacks—he might have been credited for more had sacks been an official NFL stat when he entered the league in 1981 (stats became an official stat in 1982). He also recorded 1,089 tackles and nine interceptions.
While this isn’t to disparage what Parsons has accomplished in such a short time in the NFL, to date, no opposing coach has come up with any innovative ways to slow Parsons down.
And while Parsons, who, along with the rest of the Cowboys, comes to town this weekend to face the Giants, has a very bright future ahead of him, those who have watched Taylor during his prime aren’t quite ready to anoint Parsons as the next LT.
“He’s started to have a heck of a career,” Arians said of Parsons on the Dan Patrick Show. “But when you’re talking about the best defensive player in the history of this league, slow down a little on it.”
Bill Belichick, the Giants defensive coordinator during LT’s prime, has also repeatedly dismissed comparisons made between LT and today’s defensive stars.
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