(Editor's Note: Over the next month, the staff of DallasCowboys.com is looking to answer the 20 biggest questions facing the team heading into the 2023 season. Today, the staff writers continue the series with a focus on Micah Parsons winning the ultimate defensive award.)
3) How can Micah win Defensive Player of Year?
Patrik Walker: I could argue that Parsons could've won this award in both of his first two years. He hasn't yet, however, but maybe that changes with his newfound approach going into 2023. It's one that, by his assessment, will feature a more impactful presence that doesn't focus solely on sacks. Parsons wants to be the next Aaron Donald, albeit on the EDGE, and he's designing his body to be able to take more punishment as well. All told, I don't know how the NFL could deny Parsons a third time — assuming he's equal or greater than his first two seasons.
Nick Eatman: If Micah plays like we expect him to, he'll automatically be in the conversation. That's just the level he's already on and that's what fans and more importantly, the voters, expect from him. But how does he get over the top? He's got to have one of two things happen – preferably both. He's either flirt for an NFL record in sacks or at least get into the range of 20 sacks, which might not happen since he doesn't rush the passer all of the time. Or, the Cowboys have to be better than we've seen on defense – like be the best in the league. If there's a combination of both or at least close to it, he'll have a great shot.
Kyle Youmans: There are several new milestones that Parsons could hit in his third NFL season, ones that could put him squarely in the hunt. Closing in on the 20-sack mark would certainly gain the right attention needed. Continuing to cause turnovers and force teams out of their game plan would go a long way. But the best thing Parsons could do would be producing at a consistent level all the way through the year. Last season, Parsons tallied 12 sacks in the first 11 games of the season, but just 1.5 sacks the rest of the year. His rookie season saw more constancy of nine sacks over the same span, and four the rest of the way. So, getting that sack total up in the end, but doing it more consistently throughout a season may be the best positioning Parsons could do for some award recognition.
Mickey Spagnola: Just keep doing what he's been doing. And Parsons was right this offseason when saying being the most valuable defensive player of the year is not all about sacks. It's about making big plays at critical times that are game changers. For Micah to accomplish that more often, playing more snaps at linebacker might allow him to make more big plays instead of simply lining up at defensive end where teams can better neutralize him when knowing exactly where he is going to be pre-snap. Also, his play must contribute to increased team success.
Nick Harris: There were many winners in the building when Dallas selected Mazi Smith in the first round in April's draft, and that certainly included Micah Parsons. In game planning against Parsons in 2022, teams could simply just run away from him, but now there's a big presence up the middle preventing that. So how does Parsons take advantage? Well, just that, taking advantage. Parsons will see more opportunities in the run game than he saw in 2022 while also keeping a heavy pass rush presence. DPOY has proven to be a statistical crown, so racking up the sacks will be important, but so will adding those tackles for loss and forced fumbles in the run game.
Kurt Daniels: Go get the quarterback. Obviously, there should be more to it. Earning the NFL's top defensive award isn't that simple, right? Then again, just look at last season. Micah Parsons topped winner Nick Bosa in tackles, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, quarterback hurries and passes defensed. More valuable to his team's defense, Parsons was also graded higher by Pro Football Focus and was given a better Approximate Value from Pro Football Reference. But Bosa led the NFL in sacks (totaling 18.5 to Parsons' 13.5) and quarterback hits while also tying for second in tackles for loss. He got to the quarterback.