Skip to main content
Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles News

Duffy: How the Cowboys leverage Micah Parsons' many talents 

Jordan Mailata and Micah Parsons
Jordan Mailata and Micah Parsons

Sunday's matchup between the Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys will feature two of the top pass rush units in the league. In Dallas, there's no questioning that Micah Parsons leads the charge for the Cowboys. He leads the team with 47 pressures so far this season, which is nearly double that of the second name on that list (DeMarcus Lawrence has 26).

What makes Parsons especially dangerous is that his wins happen FAST. According to NextGenStats, seven of Parsons' team-high eight pressures last week against the Rams came in under 2.5 seconds. His "average time to pressure" was 2.03 seconds on the day, the fastest number for any pass rusher this season who recorded that many pressures in a single outing.

Parsons certainly gets his share of wins one-on-one, typically against the offensive right tackle. But the Cowboys also love to move him around. If Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn has a potential mismatch for Parsons up front, he is not afraid to take it.

In years past, the majority of Parsons' rushes have come against the opposing right tackle. So far this year, however, he has lined up far more across the rest of the formation than he has previously. So, this is not just a "Lane Johnson vs. Micah Parsons" matchup this week. The entire offensive line has to be prepared to see No. 11 on any snap.

The Dallas pass rush is more than just about Parsons, though. This is a defense that leads the league in pressure percentage (per Pro Football Focus), peppering quarterbacks at a 48.9 percent clip. The New York Jets rank second, falling at 43.9 percent. That five percentage point difference between Dallas and the Jets is the same distance between New York and the 10th-place team on that list (the Baltimore Ravens), further explaining just how far out in front the Cowboys are in this metric.

With that in mind, they get home to the quarterback in a lot of different ways. They mix up their looks up front consistently, working to keep offenses on its toes. On third down, they love to get into a rush package that features at least three, and sometimes four, defensive ends on the field at once, typically with another defender down on the line of scrimmage with them. Pair that with six defensive backs behind them in a dime package and that is a LOT of speed on the field.

The Cowboys have a ton of speed on that side of the ball. They're one of the fastest defenses in football. Where that speed shows up is with the various stunts and twists that they run up front, and that has been a very effective tool for their pass rush as well.

The Cowboys lead the NFL in stunt percentage (37.6 percent through eight weeks). When they stunt, they rank second in the NFL in EPA per play against and fourth in average yards per play allowed. They're extremely effective, and the film backs that up.

They also rank in the Top 10 in blitz percentage (35.0 percent). When you have that amount of speed up front and you add in even more speed from the second level, it's bound to give quarterbacks fits.

The Eagles will have to have a plan for the Dallas pressure package on Sunday, and it's one of the marquee matchups in the entire league in Week 9 as one of the top offenses and top defenses in football face off. It will be a fun one to watch.

Related Content