Micah Parsons and Mike Zimmer Have Said 'Total of 20 Words' to One Another

Micah Parsons and his new defensive coordinator have not spoken much.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates his sack against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Set. 24, 2023.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates his sack against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Set. 24, 2023. / Joe Rondone / The Republic / USA TODAY

The Dallas Cowboys backfilled their vacant defensive coordinator role -- after Dan Quinn left to take on a head coach role with the Washington Commanders -- in February by hiring Mike Zimmer. In the months since, Zimmer and one of his primary defensive weapons, Micah Parsons, have not spoken much.

"Honestly, me and [Zimmer] have probably said a total of 20 words to each other," Parsons said in a scrum with reporters recently. "He’s a very quiet person. All I keep hearing from the coaches is, ‘Zimm likes it this way.’ I was like, ‘Well, I like it this way.’"

In addition to his comments on a contract extension, this quote, too, will be scrutinized. There's some potential anxiety for Cowboys supporters behind those words. Ideally, you want your stars and their coaches aligned as deeply and as early as possible, so to hear there's both a lack of communication and alignment could be troublesome. Parsons, for his part, expressed full optimism in the new arrangement.

"So I can’t wait to sit down with him because that would be pretty cool. Obviously, old school mindset, old school mentality. You know I think he’s had a lot of great players but he ain’t ever had a Micah," Parsons said.

It's important to remember: It's still just June.

Parsons trained away from the team for the offseason which kept him distant from his new coordinator. He pointed to Aaron Donald, who missed voluntary minicamp work and went on to win Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He also pointed to the role Dallas has used him in and how that role makes for a long recovery process each offseason:

"I’m playing as an undersized rusher who is banged up every year. So I’m just letting my body heal. I’m just trying to grow, strengthen, and really just get ready for the year."

Parsons plays as a linebacker but often lines up and plays in a defensive end role as well. Last season he played 88 percent of his snaps on the defensive line. Here's a look at his line-versus-box snap usage throughout his three-year career so far, which has steadily increased:

Season

D-Line

Box

Other

D-Line %

2021

390

540

30

41%

2022

859

195

8

81%

2023

801

108

1

88%

It would be great for Zimmer and Parsons to get on the same page, especially about how they see his role playing out in a new era for the unit. Previously, there seemed to be some discordance about what position Parsons plays, with the player implying he was shifting to become a full-time defensive end, while Quinn, his then-coordinator, called him a "pass rushing linebacker."

Parsons, for his part, has requested the Cowboys get bigger in the pass-rushing game and on the defensive line in conversations with owner and general manager Jerry Jones. The Cowboys did not add much in that vein, other than seventh-round rookie Justin Rogers (346 pounds, Auburn) and undrafted rookie Denzel Daxon (320 pounds, Illinois). So it would stand to reason his requirements in lining up on the defensive line will continue to be sizable in the upcoming season.


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Josh Wilson

JOSH WILSON

Josh Wilson is the News Director of the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Before joining the SI team in 2024, Josh worked for FanSided in a variety of roles, most recently as Senior Managing Editor of the brand’s flagship site. He has also served as a general manager of Sportscasting, the sports arm of a startup sports media company, where he oversaw the site’s editorial and business strategy. Josh has a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a Master’s degree in accountancy from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. Josh loves a good nonfiction book and enjoys learning and practicing Polish. He lives in Chicago but was raised in Upstate NY. He spent most of his life in the Northeast and briefly lived in Poland where he ate an unhealthy amount of pastries for six months.