The bald eagle might not be considered “endangered” any longer but Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was in plenty of danger Monday night against a vicious Cowboys defense. Despite a depleted front seven, the Cowboys manhandled the Eagles’ offensive line, holding Philadelphia to just 12 first downs all night. For context, Dallas had 13 first downs in the first quarter. The biggest reason for the Eagles offense’s rough night, and the reason they’ll likely require therapy moving forward, second-year lockdown corner Trevon Diggs, and rookies Micah Parsons and Osa Odighizuwa.
#Cowboys DE/LB Micah Parsons played 37 snaps in Week 3 per @PFF.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 28, 2021
He finished the game with 4 pressures, 3 hurries, 3 stops, 1 sack and 1 pass deflection.
Diggs posted an overall grade of 92 and a coverage grade of 92.2, per PFF. He also logged two tackles, two pass breakups, and an emphatic pick-six. He was targeted six times, allowing three catches, the only meaningful one of which came on Philadelphia’s first play when Hurts connected with Dallas Goedert for 38 yards.
Hurts went after Diggs multiple times trying to get the ball to fellow Alabama product DeVonta Smith, who finished with three catches for 28 yards. It never went well for Hurts beyond that first completion to Goedert.
I’ve been saying Diggs is a lockdown corner in the making. Tonight he’s made. pic.twitter.com/KPxgo0Ijn8— Darreck W. Kirby (@KirbyCreate_DDP) September 28, 2021
Making matters worse was the pressure Hurts was seeing upfront and on the edge as Parsons, and the returning Randy Gregory, exploded off the line all night to get in the Eagles quarterback’s face and bother his throws. Up the middle was no better as Odighizuwa punched through the line to collapse the pocket on several occasions.
On the season, Parsons and Odighizuwa lead the team in quarterback pressures, with Parsons leading the team at 15 and Odighizuwa adding 10 of his own.
Rookies Micah Parsons & Osa Odighizuwa are 1 & 2 when it comes to pressures, hurries & sacks.— Big Game James (@YaitesJames) September 28, 2021
Parsons: 15 pressures (team Lead)
10 hurries & two sacks
Odighizuwa: 10 pressures
7 hurries & two sacks. Per PFF. The foundation is set.
Parsons finished with four tackles, three of which were solo, a tackle for loss, a half-sack, and a stunningly athletic pass deflection. He was so impactful the Eagles actually resorted to double-teaming him when he rushed the passer and even used their running back to help chip him to buy Hurts one fleeting additional moment.
Odighizuwa, meanwhile, finished with four tackles of his own, two of which were solo, a tackle for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He narrowly missed out on another sack when early in the third quarter he blew through the line and nearly hooked Hurts around the shoulders on a big 3rd-and-8. Hurts stepped up, keeping his base, and then heaved a deep ball down the left sideline for a 41-yard gain. While the drive led to an Eagles touchdown, their offense’s first of the night, it showed how even when things didn’t quite break right for the defense they could be swarming and effective.
This isn’t an aberration for these three players. Parsons is an athletic freak of nature few players in the NFL can equal, and Diggs has now intercepted six passes in 15 career games, including one in each of the team’s first three games this season. What’s more, as Bobby Belt pointed out on Twitter during the game, Diggs didn’t even record his first career interception until Week 8 of his rookie year. That means he’s logged six interceptions in his last eight games. The dude is a certified ballhawk and one of the rising corners in the league.
Trevon Diggs: 87.1 coverage grade this season— PFF (@PFF) September 28, 2021
Tied 1st among CBs ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/bynmf6zr8m
As great as a talented secondary and elite corner are, however, games are won and lost in this league in the trenches. That’s where Parsons, who can be equally devastating whether playing linebacker against the run or in coverage, or rushing the passer as a defensive end, and Odighizuwa, whose strength and burst is routinely imploding the heart of offensive lines. come in.
The Cowboys legitimately have three potential Pro Bowlers at the tender ages of 22 (Parsons), 23 (Odighizuwa), and 24 (Diggs). That’s a future you can believe in and one that will make life easier for Dak Prescott and the offense, which don’t need a lot of help to begin with.
#Cowboys DT Osa Odighizuwa finished Week 3 with 4 pressures and 2 sacks.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 28, 2021
He has 9 pressures and 6 hurries over the last two weeks.
When looking at young players like this, you typically say “the future looks bright,” but that’s been said in the past of guys who never quite panned out, or at least didn’t have the transformative impact their early production had foreshadowed. The difference here is that, in Diggs’ case, the body of work is building to the point of being undeniable, while Parsons and Odighizuwa are making such emphatic statements week-by-week in their first season the physical dominance can’t be denied.
People have looked at Micah Parsons in awe through the first three games of his career as though he were an unstoppable force of nature—Godzilla, if you will. What those people don’t realize, however, is that he’s actually but one head of a greater beast alongside Diggs and Odighizuwa - King Ghidora.