There was a point this season that Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons was the clear favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He started off the season strong, having four sacks in the first two games of the season, building off his strong rookie year. Through the first 11 weeks of the season, he registered 12 sacks. With the entire AFC South still left to play on the schedule, it seemed inevitable that Parsons would continue adding onto his total and secure the award he finished as a runner-up for the year prior. That did not happen.
Through the final six weeks of the season, Parsons registered a mere 1.5 sacks. Parsons still finished his sophomore season with a very impressive 13.5 sacks on the season, one-half of a sack more than he had his rookie year. However, San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa finished the year with a league-leading 18.5 sacks, and is now the betting favorite for the award. While some may consider this a let down for Parsons, he still continues to be the most impactful player in the league on the defensive side of the ball.
There is a lot of focus on sacks when it comes to judging a pass rusher. For instance, Parsons may get criticized for registering just one sack against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the team’s overtime loss in Week 15. However, Parsons had 12 pressures on QB Trevor Lawrence that game, the most in a single game of his career.
Micah Parsons in Week 15:— PFF (@PFF) December 19, 2022
12 pressures (1st)
29.3% pressure percentage (1st) pic.twitter.com/W0EXIoTe1l
At some point, someone else has to step up on the Dallas defensive line. Opposing teams have begun game-planning for Parsons, doing everything they can to limit his pressure on the quarterback. It does not help either that the Cowboys secondary has been battling injuries throughout the back-end of the season. Lack of coverage in the secondary typically equals less time for the front-seven to get to the quarterback.
“It’s not as easy as everyone or I may look or other guys may look or make it seem,” Parsons said. “I promise you, sacking the quarterback is not that easy, especially when they’re game-planning against it and they don’t want you to get going.”
The truth is, Parsons continues to show that he does not need to sack the quarterback to be successful in impacting the game.
Micah Parsons up at the top of the leaderboard and Nick Bosa is.... barely even on the board— David Howman (@_DH44_) January 10, 2023
It is also only fair to consider that Parsons has not been playing fully healthy either. He has been dealing with his hand injury for several weeks now. To still have such an impact on the game is truly impressive. It is also important to note that Parsons had 171 snaps at linebacker this season, while Bosa is a pure defensive end. This leads to Parsons playing more coverage and focusing on defending the run.
Parsons failed to make the inaugural Players’ All-Pro Team this season, a list voted on by the players across the league. Bosa made it along with Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett. He did make the AP All-Pro team.
Regardless, he is the most impactful player on the defensive side of the ball across the entire league. If he wins the award for DPOY or not, there is no player better than Micah Parsons on defense in the NFL.