Bill Belichick Settles Comparison Between Micah Parsons & Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence Taylor

Getty Lawrence Taylor is still "ahead" of a Dallas Cowboys's All-Pro, according to Bill Belichick.

Bill Belichick hasn’t forgotten about his time with the New York Giants. Specifically, Belichick hasn’t forgotten about the greatness of Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

LT helped Belichick win two Super Bowls as defensive coordinator for the Giants, so the head coach of the New England Patriots won’t put Dallas Cowboys’ All-Pro pass-rusher Micah Parsons on Taylor’s level.

The Patriots are about to face the Cowboys in Week 4, and Belichick has been answering questions about how Parsons might compare to Taylor. Belichick’s response was emphatic, per Pro Football Talk’s Myles Simmons: “I think comparing players like that, it’s not really — I would just say, I wouldn’t put anybody ahead of Lawrence Taylor, period.

“Now, maybe I’m prejudiced, but I mean, I saw that guy every day for over a decade and he tilted the field for a decade. So, until somebody does that — and there’s a lot of great players and I’m not taking anything away from anybody else, there’s a lot of great players that have been in this league, that are in this league. But personally, I’m not putting anybody ahead of Lawrence Taylor. Not yet.”

While putting Taylor on a plateau above Parsons, Belichick went into fascinating detail about what makes the two dominant quarterback hunters different.

LT Great in Different Ways to Micah Parsons

Taylor transformed both sides of the ball thanks to his ability to rush from a standup position. Belichick emphasized why that distinction is so important by explaining what’s different about the role Taylor played, compared to the one occupied by Parsons: “No, it’s a lot different defense than what we played in New York. Lawrence played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. These guys don’t even have a 3-4 defense. Not saying they should, but that’s just totally different. … Parsons is really a defensive end.”

Before Taylor, teams often assigned a running back to block a blitzing outside linebacker. The strategy was rendered moot by Taylor’s power and speed, qualities highlighted by NFL Legacy.

Stopping Taylor soon required special attention from an offensive tackle. Usually, even this wasn’t enough to keep No. 56 under wraps.

Coaches began making specific plans just to stop Taylor. Plans like the strategy employed by Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers in the 1981 playoffs.

The Niners used a “Molly-block” technique to stunt then-NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Taylor. It involved left guard John Ayers sliding out to put a bigger body on Taylor.

Walsh’s scheme wasn’t the only tactical allowance opponents made for Taylor. Washington head coach Joe Gibbs used a tight end or H-Back next to the left tackle and “forced Taylor to line up further outside and away from the quarterback,” according to Ben Standig of The Athletic.

Gibbs substituted a fullback for another tight end just to make life difficult for Taylor. Parsons is dominating offenses this season, including the Giants, but he’s not at that level just yet.

Micah Parsons Helped By Roving Brief

Teams usually knew where Taylor would line up, over the left tackle, yet they still struggled to stop him. As Belichick pointed out, Parsons has more of a roving brief:

“They intentionally move him around. They play him on the end of the line in different combinations — to the field, to the boundary, to the tight end, to the left, to the right, to the open side, whatever the formula is. So, you know what you’re getting there. And then they do play him some off the ball in pass-rush situations. And then they play him a little bit at linebacker — not much, but a little bit. But most of the time he’s on the end of the line of scrimmage.”

Moving Parsons around helps the Cowboys’ pass rush cause havoc. It’s something the Giants found out to their cost when their double team of No. 11 on the inside set Osa Odighizuwa to sack quarterback Daniel Jones, during Week 1’s 40-0 defeat to Dallas.

Parsons opens up the game for others, but he still makes his own splash plays. Those highlight moments include sacking Jones and hitting him twice more.

He’s not Taylor, but the Giants would love to have their own version of Parsons. Especially on a defense that’s surrendered 5.6 yards per play and registered a mere two sacks through three games.

The Giants don’t have a Taylor or a Parsons, so they’re waiting for a player like second-year edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux to step up. Thibodeaux’s sluggish performances have been defended by Taylor’s former teammate Carl Banks, but the lack of a game-changing edge playmaker is still hurting today’s team.

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