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Look for Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox to be deployed vs assigned in their Rookie season. Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn has done it before with young, versatile players and he hasn’t been shy about explaining the different ways he plans to do just that in 2020.
Most rookies get assigned a position when they hit the NFL and they focus, then hopefully excel at that one position. Skill position players aside, offensive linemen try to play as many of the positions as they can if not starting but if they are a starter they generally groove into one spot and that is where they play. The defense is much the same. You may play inside or outside, but you play the line. You are either a 2 down LB, Mike, Weakside, or Strong. You are either a Free or Strong Safety. Sometimes both. Corners often play only one side. A few can play inside and outside. A few more can flip sides. Very few more. All of the above demonstrate horizontal versatility. In/out, left/right/middle. Parsons and Cox, however, have horizontal AND verticle flexibility which is mind-blowing.
Easy to disguise and fun to watch. This is the new breed of defender.
Micah Parsons Deployed
Getting Micah Parsons deployed will be giving the opposition’s offensive coordinators migraines. The Cowboys front office has been crowing about the multitude of ways they plan to get him snaps his rookie season. Look for Micah to be deployed as a blitzer on the line, a blitzer from the traditional LB depth, and also having him play in-the-box responsibilities as well as off-the-ball in coverage.
Jabril Cox Deployed
In the box, over the TE, off the ball, and also with some blitz skills Cox was a fantastic pick in the 4th for the Cowboys. He has similar versatility as Micah. Cox and will also play vertically and horizontally all over the field. Opposing defensive coordinators are going to have to pay attention and give their QB tools and practice time to decipher what is being done.
With Cox and Micah on the field at the same time, a QB would face a time crunch figuring out who is where and doing what. This slows down the QB’s decision-making process and gives the D a boost anytime you have pieces on the field you can juggle like that.
Quin is not lining up with a traditional anything. He is using a hybrid 4-3/3-4 defense which is to say we have no idea how many LB”s will be on the field on any given down. We could even see some 46 Bears front. The ‘Boys have that much depth this season at the LB position.
The NFL has figured out how to deploy a young player instead of assigning him a position. And it’s working. The Chargers James Derwin is a perfect example. He was deployed all over the defense from day 1 and excelled. When a QB sees him he has to figure out what position he is taking for that play.
Veteran’s LVE and Jaylon Smith are versatile pieces themselves and have fantastic skillsets to once again excel on game day under the watchful eye of Dan Quin. Look for turnovers, splash plays, and more than one set of 3 and outs this season.
It’s going to be a fun year.
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on Twitter: Steven Van Over