It’s starting to get difficult to find creative ways of describing just how good this rookie class is playing right now. Micah Parsons has continued to outperform every other rookie in the entire NFL, while Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston, and Quinton Bohanna have all been thriving in their roles.
But Sunday’s blowout win over the Giants gave Cowboys fans something new. After the surprise release of Jaylon Smith earlier in the week, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn found a few snaps for Jabril Cox on defense when the game still mattered. It wasn’t much, but the rookie still caught everyone’s attention while reinforcing just how good this draft class is looking so far. If you needed more proof, check out this breakdown of several rookies playing a part in the Cowboys’ three straight goal line stands from Sunday:
This is incredibly encouraging: the Giants had first and goal at the two-yard line and tried three quick-snap runs with no luck. It doesn't even matter that they scored on fourth down.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 11, 2021
And the Giants were stopped on those three snaps by all new Cowboys.pic.twitter.com/P9FPHCgw6L
Micah Parsons, LB
Part of the Cowboys’ rationale for not keeping Parsons on the edge as much was the desire to keep him on the field as much as possible. That was once again the case Sunday, as Parsons’ 63 defensive snaps made up 93% of the Cowboys’ defensive plays. Quinn continued to use Parsons in a variety of ways, and the rookie continued to showcase his tremendous physical gifts that have allowed him to be so great so early.
.@dallascowboys @MicahhParsons11 is one “Hungry Lion” Does anyone in the #NFL close to the ball or QB faster than Parsons. Just keeps getting better and better as he is asked to do more and more #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/sSW2Gyj7QV— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) October 11, 2021
Parsons even lined up outside as a defensive back on at least one snap and very nearly snagged an interception on the play. While he didn’t come up with any sacks, the rookie did lead the team in tackles with eight. His three hits on the quarterback also led the team, displaying once again just how good he’s been.
Kelvin Joseph, CB
Kelvin Joseph remains on the injured reserve after another game where Anthony Brown played fairly well, snagging a pick-six at the end of the game.
Osa Odighizuwa, iDL
Carlos Watkins returned to the field after missing time with an injury, and it still didn’t impact Osa Odighizuwa’s share of snaps. That’s a testament to how crucial of a player Odighizuwa has become in such a short amount of time. His 41 snaps (60%) were the most of any interior defensive lineman and second behind Tarell Basham of any defensive lineman.
Odighizuwa once again showed exactly why he’s out there by frequently making plays. His only credited tackle went for a loss and he also had a hit on the quarterback. More than that, though, is the fact that Odighizuwa tallied five pressures in the game. Only Randy Gregory (who had an astonishing nine pressures) recorded more pressures for the Cowboys, serving as further proof that Odighizuwa has become an integral part of this pass rush.
Chauncey Golston, EDGE
Chauncey Golston had a big breakout game last week - in just his second game as a professional - and is quickly becoming an integral part of this defense for Quinn. On Sunday, Golston played just one less snap than Odighizuwa and finished with two tackles on the day.
On the goal line stop of Daniel Jones - the one where everyone noticed Jabril Cox - it also displayed Golston’s speed to close on Jones out on the edge, getting there at about the same time Cox did. That kind of hustle is what’s endeared Golston to his coaches so much, and it’s paid off big for him early on.
Nahshon Wright, CB
He didn’t see any defensive snaps this week, but Nahshon Wright continues to be one of the team’s most reliable special teamers. His 20 snaps were second-most on the team behind Luke Gifford, and Wright came away with a tackle on special teams.
Jabril Cox, LB
Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for: Jabril Cox has arrived. It wasn’t much, as the rookie from LSU only saw four defensive snaps, but it was enough. Cox’s big-time stop on Jones’ run for the endzone will mostly be remembered for the unfortunate injury, but it was also a sight to see Cox not only playing on defense but making such a big play. Don’t be surprised if Quinn looks to give him more defensive snaps going forward.
While he turned heads with his range on defense, Cox also continued to contribute on special teams, where his 18 snaps tied with Maurice Canady for the third-most special teams snaps for the Cowboys. That might change if he sees more playing time on defense, though.
Josh Ball, OT
Like Joseph, Josh Ball is still on the injured reserve. Given the way this offensive line is playing, Ball might just stay there all year.
Simi Fehoko, WR
For the second straight week, Simi Fehoko was inactive.
Quinton Bohanna, iDL
It’s easy to overlook Quinton Bohanna, but he’s still chugging along in his nose tackle role. His 16 snaps against the Giants were about on par with his usual workload, and while Bohanna didn’t record a tackle or quarterback hit, he was making his presence felt. The Cowboys still have not surrendered 100 rushing yards to any running back this year, and Bohanna’s ability to maintain leverage and eat up space has been a key part of that.
Israel Mukuamu, S
Like Fehoko, Israel Mukuamu was inactive for this game.
Matt Farniok, OG
Once again, Matt Farniok saw work exclusively on kick attempts, as he was out there blocking on Greg Zuerlein’s five extra points and three field goals, all of which were good. It’s been noted in recent weeks that Farniok was getting these special teams snaps over Brandon Knight, and this week Knight was actually inactive. That was largely due to the return of Ty Nsekhe, who also saw zero snaps on special teams in favor of Farniok.
Nick Ralston, FB
The Cowboys continue to give us Fullback Connor McGovern, and it’s hard to argue with the results. But actual fullback Nick Ralston has been delivering great work on special teams as well. He had 15 special teams snaps Sunday and was frequently in the mix on kickoff and punt coverages. Maybe one day he’ll get to throw a block for Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard, but for now Ralston is making his presence felt in other ways.