This time last year, Micah Parsons was sitting on his couch playing Xbox. Nowadays, the Dallas Cowboys rookie first-round pick is tucking in opposing quarterbacks for in-game naps in critical situations while fans sit on their couches playing as him on Xbox. It's been a whirlwind season thus far, one that sees him not only operating at a blistering pace, but actually gaining speed each and every week. His latest victim was Taysom Hill and the New Orleans Saints, who found out what 10 other teams also discovered the hard way in their NFL introduction to Parsons.
He's unlike anything the league has seen since the likes of Hall of Fame pass rusher Lawrence Taylor and, no, this is in no way an exaggeration. When Parsons chased down Hill atop the fourth quarter on Thursday night for what was his 10th sack of the season -- a franchise record that is now creating distance from the previous mark of eight set by DeMarcus Ware in his first year -- an 11-yard tackle-for-loss that set the tone for what became the most explosive defensive quarter for the Cowboys this season.
Still, while Parsons is enjoying the win, he's not celebrating it like it's anything more than what it is: another step on a long road.
"I ain't exceed anything at all -- very high standards for myself," he said following the 27-17 victory at Caesars Superdome. "... The Super Bowl, playoffs -- you got 5 games left. I don't think it's time for me to sit on my couch, smiling, eating Cheetos. I'm trying to do something way bigger than anybody thought we could do this year."
Parsons has no need for tasty cheese-powdered snacks when he's so hellbent on filling up his belly with the broken dreams of opposing quarterbacks, as he's often done and continues to do in 2021.
The Cowboys leader in sacks by a wide margin entering Week 14, and having done so in the absence of DeMarcus Lawrence, Neville Gallimore and Randy Gregory -- the former having returned in Week 13 with the latter two readying for a possible return in 10 days -- and it's not simply the sacks that make him a frontrunner for both NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and NFL Defensive Player of the Year (yes, both), it's his unreal versatility that also sees him making an impact off the ball.
A major example of how he's coming along in coverage was seen on Thursday night, when he dropped back and remained in the hip pocket of speedy receiver Kenny Stills to force a pass break up that became a tip drill interception by a diving Jayron Kearse. So whether it's being shot out of a cannon to chase down quarterbacks like they're prey on the savanna or making plays on the ball when it's in the air -- Parsons is quite literally doing it all.
It's something Lawrence has been watching during his weeks of recovery from a foot fracture suffered ahead of Week 2,, the two-time Pro Bowler knows the ceiling for the Cowboys defense just became the roof.
"I feel like the more the season went on, you could see his speed start coming alive in the games," said Lawrence. "He's a fast player, excellent instincts, he's a go-getter. He's the lone lion."
Much like his compatriots in the secondary like Kearse and interception-magnet Trevon Diggs, when there's a play to be made, Parsons isn't looking around hoping someone else can deliver it. He knows they can, but he also knows that's his job as well. Having sacks in the last five games (7.5 sacks total through that span), he's the first rookie to accomplish such a feat since Joey Bosa did it in 2016, and he not only leads all rookies in that category, but by a country mile -- second place currently belonging to Jaelen Phillips (6.5) of the Miami Dolphins.
With five games remaining in the regular season, he's now only five sacks away from setting the all-time NFL record for most in a single season by a rookie, the current mark of 14.5 sacks set by former Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse. Oh, and did I mention his base position in Dallas is linebacker and not defensive end? That seems pertinent.
But before you go heaping praise on Parsons to Parsons, remember all he's thinking about is making his next big play.
"Any time you're backed up and you have a chance to get off the field, somebody's got to make the play," Parsons said. "Why not me?"