Can the Cowboys ‘Micah Parsons follow in Jevon Kears’ footsteps all the way to the Super Bowl?

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FRISCO, Texas – Jevon Kearse could not remember the exact Dallas Cowboys game he saw, but while watching his nephew, Jayron, play, his eyes were fixed on Micah Parsons.

“This No. 11, he has that engine,” Kearse said, nicknamed “the Freak” during his 11 NFL seasons. “When I see him pass urgently, it’s like he’s doing all the right things. When you think he’s going outside, he goes in. When you think he’s using speed, he’s using force … .He has the total package.If he lined up after every game, he would probably have broken down [Michael] Strahan’s record. “

And if Parsons had broken Strahan’s single-season record of 22.5 sacks, he would have first beaten Kearses’ record for sacks by a rookie (14.5).

Parsons’ pursuit of Kears’ record fell short in part because the Cowboys’ rookie linebacker spent the last regular season game on the reserve / COVID-19 list. But his final numbers were just as influential for the Cowboys ‘success as Kearses’s for the Tennessee Titans’ success 22 years ago, when the defensive end was named Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Parsons finished with a Cowboys rookie record of 13 sacks, along with 84 tackles, 42 quarterback pressure, three forced fumbles and three passes. He had 20 tackles for losses, third most in the league.

He is the favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and should be in the mix to become Defensive Player of the Year. The only rookie to win the latter award was linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants in 1981.

As the Cowboys begin their playoff trip this week against the San Francisco 49ers at AT&T Stadium on Sunday (16:30 ET, CBS), the Parsons, who are expected to disappear from the reserve / COVID-19 list soon, will try to make it . something else Kearse did as a rookie – helping lead his team to a Super Bowl.

The Titans lost Super Bowl XXXIV to St. Louis. Louis Rams, but Kearse had three more sacks in the off-season and a tackle for losses.

Tennessee had a mostly veteran defense in Kearse’s rookie year, unlike Dallas, but his influence went beyond statistics.

“It was unique because he just loved everyone he loved to practice, loved to compete,” said former Titans coach Jeff Fisher. “He was happy all the time. He never complained about anything. And he was just really, really good. Such one of them, ‘Is this too good to be true?’ A lot of it infected the guys. “

Parsons had a similar impact on and off the field for a Cowboys defense that was cruel a year ago, allowing a franchise record of 473 points. His arrival (draft No. 12 overall) coincided with schematic changes and an energy boost from new coordinator Dan Quinn, who saw the defense allow 358 points, seventh-least in the NFL, and record a league-best 34 takeaways.

Unlike Kearse, Parsons lined up everywhere. According to Pro Football Focus, Parsons’ 902 defensive snaps shaped like this: 498 on linebacker, 374 on defensive line, 29 on cornerback, 1 on safety.

“We’ve been playing here for a long time and we’ve had some excellent edge rushes, so for a guy to have that kind of production when you’re not playing the position full time, I think it’s talking about where his future goes. tackles for losses and sacks and punches, “said Quinn.” We’ve been planning to be an excellent player here for a long time and I thought it’s been a remarkable start to it, just to kick it off. way for him.

“He’s hungry for it, which’s nice because not everyone can handle that kind of versatility and not just on any part of your career, but especially as a beginner. So I’ll definitely tip the hat for him.”

Parsons was about 4 months old when Kearse recorded his first NFL sacks, three against the Cleveland Browns in September. 19, 1999. In addition to the 14.5 sacks, Kearse had a league-leading eight forced fumbles, 15 tackles for losses, nine passes, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.

Parsons knew about Kearse and did some Google searches while also talking to his teammate, Jayron.

“His stats were extremely rare for his rookie year,” Parsons said. “I asked JK about him. He said the same thing. Really good player. He was really successful in the league. “

Parsons wonders what his sack total would have been if he were solely a pass-rusher.

“You look at the statistics, guys can have four or three more sacks than me, but they can have 300 or 400 more pass-rush attempts than me,” Parsons said. “It’s a lot about the explosiveness I can add to the game. I can come at any time. And it says a lot about how I get used. I never know if I’m a spy, if I’m coming – but they always came to account [for] I. So it really opens up opportunities for other people.

“Sometimes people always try to look at statistics and say if this person is having a good season. Sometimes it’s really not about statistics, it’s about how this person affects the game. I believe that every game, I’m creating an effect. “

Jayron Kearse was 5 years old when his uncle ruined games as a rookie, so he does not remember that season other than what people told him. He knows Jevon played free safety in high school and moved to linebacker in Florida before going on the defensive end with the Titans. And of course he remembers the nickname.

“He got a lot of it from his hands,” said Jayron Jevon’s hands, which measured 11.63 inches at the combine. “His hands are wildly large, so he was a specimen.”

Jayron, who led the Cowboys in tackles (101), is in his sixth NFL season and has been surprised by Parsons’ season.

“I’ve never seen a rookie perform like he’s performed – in no way, shape or form have been a part of it,” Jayron said. “… Can play off-ball linebacker and can be a top five off-ball linebacker. Can get on the edge and be a top five pass-rusher. I have great respect for many guys in the league who do well, regardless whether it’s Bobby Wagners, TJ Watts. It’s just crazy that he can get off the ball and play as well as a Bobby Wagner, or he can get on the line and be as good as a TJ Watt. from many people, especially because he’s a rookie. He’s only 22 years old. He wants to keep getting better. “

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