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Helman: I Spy Another New Role For Micah


FRISCO, Texas – I think I'm going to set a new record this week.

If you include our postgame coverage from Week 2, I think this will be the fourth story I've written about Micah Parsons in the last five days. I took a day off to sleep off the jetlag from the redeye flight on Monday, but other than that it's been a steady diet of Parsons content all week.

I'm sorry about that – but also I'm not?

Unless you care about the snap split for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, and I assuredly do not, what other dominant storyline came out of that win in Los Angeles? I've written Parsons' stat line so many times I can see it in my sleep, so I won't do it again here. But the guy's play against the Chargers was a revelation.

That said, I don't really want to see it again this week – not exclusively, anyway. Not for this matchup.

The reason is simple, and it's the speedy young quarterback on the opposite side of the line.

Judging from the first two weeks of his season, Jalen Hurts has made some progress as a passer. I'm not here to belittle his abilities from inside the pocket. But it doesn't take a football expert to see that what makes him the most dangerous at this stage of his career are his feet.

Through two games, Hurts is leading the Eagles in rushing with 144 yards on just 17 carries. In last week's loss to San Francisco, he carried 10 times for 82 yards and Philly's only touchdown.

The dangerous part of that is Hurts' ability to improvise. Five of his 10 carries were scrambles, and he picked up a nice total of 69 yards on those broken plays. On a day when yards were hard to come by, Hurts picked up 21% of the team's total yardage by breaking containment and scrambling up field.

This is where Parsons comes in. The guy boasts 4.30-type speed despite being listed at 6'3, 245 pounds – as if we needed a reminder that he's an extraterrestrial. What better way to cover yourselves against a speedy quarterback than with the world's fastest spy covering the middle level of the defense?

The Cowboys employed this idea during the Dec. 27 home win against Philadelphia. Particularly in third down situations, they used C.J. Goodwin as a dime back spy who could keep an eye on Hurts. The rookie quarterback did manage to finish with another 69 rushing yards – but his six scrambles went for just 25 yards, including a fumble that was recovered by Jaylon Smith.

Clearly, it can be an effective way to limit Hurts' impact on a game, and the particulars of this matchup make me think it could be Parsons' best course of action on Monday night.

For whatever other flaws they have, the Eagles employ two quality offensive tackle. Jordan Mailata is a heck of an impressive athlete who just signed a $64 million contract extension. Lane Johnson's reputation as one of the league's best right tackles speaks for itself. Across seven seasons and 13 matchups against Philadelphia, DeMarcus Lawrence has just two career sacks against the Eagles – and one of those came last season, in a game Johnson missed with an injury.

With all due respect to Parsons, I'm not sure I like his odds against tackles of this caliber. At least, not to the degree we saw against Storm Norton last weekend.

Much better to move him off the line, where he can play a higher volume of snaps, with arguably a more impactful role. Randy Gregory's return should negate some of the (admittedly many) issues with the pass rush, and Parsons can still contribute in his own way.

As Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones pointed out this week, Parsons also had a knack for generating pressure as a blitzer.

"You can get pressure in the middle, and he's that quick," Jones said. "He's that fast. He gave them fits in college and he can do that here, after having seen him through training camp and these first two ballgames. But you can get pressure up the middle with him."

I'm sure Dan Quinn doesn't care about my opinion, but the beauty of having such a versatile player is that his job description can change by the week. Pardon the pun, but assigning Parsons to Hurts might be the best way to limit how much he hurts you.

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