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Cowboys news: Micah Parsons and a revamped defense ready to prove their critics wrong

There’s no shortage of storylines for the Cowboys ahead of tonight’s season-opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only question is whether they can deliver.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Chess anyone? Dallas Cowboys ready to unleash LB Micah Parsons on the NFL. Check mate - Clarence E. Hill Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Cowboys might not have entered the 2021 NFL Draft with Micah Parsons as their intended target but the linebacker has been everything they thought and more early on as the team prepares for its season-opener.

The Cowboys knew Parsons was talented, but he has proven to be better than they could have imagined, prompting defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to design a scheme where the versatile, do-it-all Parsons is the key component on the field.

Most importantly, he embraces the expectations.

“Being a versatile player makes it a challenge for anybody to stop it, for anybody to scheme up,” Parsons said. “You want to be kind of like a queen on the [chess] board. You don’t ever want to be a rook, where you can only go straight, or you can only go sideways. You want to be able to go diagonal, and I think that’s what makes the queen so strong. And I just kind of want to be the queen of linebackers … but a king, in a way.”

Mailbag: Why the restructures? - Dallas Cowboys Mailbag, David Helman, Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

Curious about the reasoning for the Cowboys restructuring Zeke and Dak’s deals in the weeks leading up to the opener? You aren’t the only ones. Rob Phillps and David Helman answer this and more from Cowboys Nation.

Alright, can you guys make sense of it for us? Last week Zeke’s contract was “restructured” and now Dak’s has been. As best I can see and understand it, not a dime of money was changed in either contract, it was just moved from one pocket to another. Seems to me it’s a bit of a shell game. Can you please spell it out so those of us without a PhD in finance can understand it? — RUSSELL WHITE / ORANGE CITY, FL

Rob: It’s just an accounting move that all teams use. With a contract restructure, the Cowboys convert a portion of a player’s base salary into signing bonus money that reduces that player’s salary cap level for that year. The team then gets some cap space for that year (or the next year if they choose to carry over to 2022). It’s basically kicking the can down the road, because it does mean the player’s cap hit will balloon in future years. So when the Cowboys do a restructure, it’s typically with star players on long-term contracts who are likely to play out their entire deals.

David: It’s easy to get excited and assume the front office is making this decision with an upcoming move in mind. In reality, they’re just thinking about their needs in the short-term and long-term. There’s no telling what could come up during the season that might require them to make a signing or a trade. And obviously they’ll need cap space in 2022 for a variety of reasons. Dak isn’t going anywhere for a while, and his cap number is going to be huge, regardless. So it makes a lot of sense to do this with his deal.

Dak Prescott’s career has been full of surprises, and the Cowboys QB needs another big one vs TB - Tim Cowlishaw, DMN

Dak Prescott is no stranger to life under the microscope, but between the stage, his long recovery, and a rather handsome contract, all eyes will be on him Thursday night as he leads Dallas against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

This is especially true for quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless of time, place or opponent, his first game under center as a freshly minted $40-million-a-season quarterback would be a major story. The fact that he’s doing it in the new home of Tom Brady while shrouded in his own personal mystery due to injury makes the challenge all the more considerable.

Brady has seven Super Bowl rings. He played college ball at Michigan last century. Who even knows what planet he comes from at this point? Comparing others to him or examining a “tale of the tape” for any quarterback opposing Brady is just mindless at this point.

Prescott has his own worries. He has pronounced himself ready a remarkable number of times — the start of training camp, the return to training camp from his shoulder injury, this past week — without ever actually playing the game. Prescott is one of 15 starting quarterbacks who did not throw a single preseason pass, but Brady talked this week about why he likes to at least get the feel of the game in the exhibition season and how long it took him to feel normal in the pocket after his major injury in 2007.

Dallas Cowboys ‘Hard Knocks’ finale brings emotion as Jerry Jones eyes return to glory - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

‘Hard Knocks’ wrapped up Tuesday night, connecting back to Jerry Jones and his hunger for a fourth championship after an unbearably long drought.

In the final few minutes of the series, the camera captured Jones, who turns 79 on Oct. 13, sitting alone in his office at The Star in Frisco, watching the Cowboys practice on their outside field. He muses on the how sharp Dak Prescott looks. He reminisces how lucky the Cowboys were to draft him in the fourth round in 2016.

“That nature, that aura, it’s just there,” Jones said wistfully of Prescott before describing him as a Pied Piper-like character when he was being interviewed by Cowboys staff before the draft.

“That’s an area where we haven’t quantified it yet,” Jones said of evaluating the intangibles of a prospect such as Prescott in 2016. “You can do it with speed, you can do it with size. And you can do it with some stats. That heart, that inside? That’s a toughie.”

After ugly 2020, Dallas Cowboys are hoping you won’t recognize this retooled defense - Clarence E. Hill Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The defense last year was, shall we say, rough to watch. After an offseason spent overhauling the unit, scheme, and coordinator, the Cowboys are hoping for a major turnaround in 2021.

“I’ve never seen one side of the ball flip the way we’ve flipped it in one offseason,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think that’s a real credit to what we were able to do in free agency and in the draft. I think it will definitely be evident when we get into the regular season.”

The improvement was already noted in training camp as the defense was ahead of the offense through most days in practice.

COWBOYS DEFENSE PRIMED FOR WEEK 1 DEBUT VS. TOM BRADY

And it won’t take long to find out just how far they have come with seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on tap for the season opener.


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