Dallas Cowboys edge-rusher Micah Parsons recently took a not-so-subtle shot at T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Asked to rank the top five pure edge-rushers in the NFL, Parsons included himself, of course, but, one name he omitted, glaringly, was Watt’s. When asked to clarify why, his answer was less than convincing.
“I mean, look at the stats,” Parsons told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports. “Like, the stats don’t like – he was not top five.”
Parsons tried to dig deep, spouting off double-team percentages to make his argument. Yet, when looking at two stats that matter a lot, Watt was undoubtedly a top-five edge-rusher in the NFL. The four-time All-Pro finished fifth in tackles for loss (19) and alone atop the league in sacks (19).
Analytically, Watt earned the fifth-highest defensive grade (91.9) and fourth-best pressure grade (91.7), per Pro Football Focus. Likewise, according to ESPN analytics, he finished fourth in win-rate (25 percent) among edge rushers.
Parsons brought up double-team percentages and that might be the only spot in which his argument holds a little water. Opposing teams doubled Watt only 14% of the time this season, far outside the top 10. However, that shouldn’t discount his impact, especially after he led the league in a major category like sacks for the third time in four years.
Furthermore, Parsons’ diatribe about stats comes less than 24 hours after he boldly said they don’t matter.
The Cowboys star was quick to say there was no “beef” with Watt, but something about the Steeler has gotten under his skin. Perhaps it was because Watt received 12 more first-place votes for Defensive Player of the Year. Or, maybe it was Watt’s response to losing out on the award to Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett.
Either way, no matter how Parsons tries to tear down Watt, the stats don’t lie.