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Eatman: Parsons Has Passed Donald As NFL's Best


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Let's just start with the facts here. Sure, technically they're opinions but I'd like to find people to argue either of these two statements:

The Cowboys have the best defense in the NFL.

Micah Parsons is the best defensive player in the NFL.

The first one seems like a no-brainer. No other team in the league could not only survive its starting quarterback going down with a four-game winning streak, but also play better and better each week. Yeah, it's one thing to lean on the defense, but this is getting borderline incredible.

They allowed 19 points to the Buccaneers in Week 1. But since then, it's been 17, 16, 10 and now 10. Ten points to the Rams with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Sean McVay, who we all thought might figure it out this week with the Cowboys in town.

And they tried. But the Cowboys defense is just playing on another level right now.

No, it's not a one-man show over there, but Parsons is undoubtedly the leader of this group. He's the clear-cut MVP of this defense and this defense is the best in the NFL.

So I think it's OK to call him the best defensive player in football right now.

Absolutely no disrespect to Aaron Donald, who definitely hasn't lost a step. He was amazing here in this game, doing his best to wreck the Cowboys offense with every chance he got.

In chatting with right guard Zack Martin, he said "99 is unbelievable," referring to Donald, of course. Martin spoke on the challenges of having to find him on every snap.

Here's what is crazy about Donald. His versatility has made him the best player in the NFL for years because he has the ability rush from all four positions on the line. And on Sunday, they moved him everywhere to find the mismatches – and oftentimes it was against rookie left tackle Tyler Smith.

But the crazy part is ... Parsons is even more versatile. He can rush from all four spots on the line AND play linebacker, too. You know, linebacker, his natural position.

And without a doubt, the Rams are struggling right now mainly because of their offense. L.A. has some issues scoring points. But guess what? So do the Cowboys. Donald and the Rams are trying to carry that team but right now, it's 2-3 after five games. Parsons and his defense is trying to carry the team with an offense that needs firepower as well. And right now, the Cowboys are 4-1. That's yet another reason why I'll give Parsons the nod right here and now.

Parsons calls himself a "lion" and on this day, the lion was clearly wounded. He battled through a left groin injury the entire second half, coming out of the game a little more than usual. But as he described it, "Sometimes I just had to go off pure heart."

Parsons willed himself out there with a bad leg and still got two sacks and a forced fumble.

But really, with him, Parsons' play goes way deeper than just stats. If you truly watch him on every play – and at this point I don't know why you wouldn't – you can clearly see how often he changes every single snap. Just a sidestep here by the quarterback, or him stepping up in the pocket, or a running back that chips Parsons off the edge before going out for a pass but never gets there because the quarterback is getting rushed anyway.

And the biggest thing you'll see is Parsons fighting through two and three defenders while DeMarcus Lawrence and/or Dorance Armstrong is getting home. And let's not exclude Sam Williams. The rookie played his best game of his young career.

But everything starts and ends with Parsons. He's not just someone who lines up in different spots, but he dominates from there.

After the game, I even asked Parsons what it felt like to have a game like this with Donald on the other side, and he really didn't shy away from the discussion of being the best defensive player in football.

"Yeah, I think it's a battle. You want to be the best rusher. There's only one best rusher in the league," Parsons said of Donald. "To me, it's a competition between me and him, no matter what. Even with the respect, I want to potentially be the best player in this league. So, you know, with Aaron taking the cake right now, I'm just pushing, I'm climbing."

Even better, Micah. You don't have to go out there and say you're better. Just keep "pushing" and "climbing" and let other people say what seems rather obvious right now.

Micah Parsons is the best defensive player in football. And he's leading the best defense as well.

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