Despite a Dallas Cowboys loss last Sunday night, it was hard not to come away impressed with the overall performance of second year linebacker Bruce Carter. Taking over middle linebacking duties in the absence of team captain and defensive leader Sean Lee is quite the undertaking for such a young player. The depth of defensive knowledge needed the responsibility of getting guys lined up correctly and calling defensive signals would be a arduous task for any second year player. Especially for a player that played less than half a season in 2010 after recovering from a season ending knee injury prior to his senior year at North Carolina.
Combines tackle efficiency by Profootballfocus.com is defined as: The total number of attempted tackles per missed tackles. Among linebackers that have taken more than 60% of a team’s defensive snaps, Bruce Carter ranks 10th in the NFL with a combined tackle efficiency of 16%. Coming out of college Carter’s lateral speed was highly touted but many questions remained after sustaining the knee injury that cut his college career short. The lateral speed was displayed last Sunday when Carter managed eleven tackles with six of those tackles being stops. Stops in which result positively for the defense and usually negatively affect the offense in some form. On one play during the game versus the Atlanta Falcons, Julio Jones had a long catch for 30+ yards down the field yet who managed to help run the Falcons second year wide receiver down from behind to help with the tackle…Bruce Carter. With Julio Jones you have a wide receiver that is likely one of the fastest men in the NFL but yet Bruce Carter managed to chase him down to assist with the tackle.
Bruce Carter has played 100% of the defensive snaps the last four weeks improving each weeks numbers in tackles, assists and stops. While the Dallas Cowboys have been disappointing up to this point in the season fans and team personnel have to be excited about the future of the inside linebacking core in Dallas. The speed at which Carter plays and the thoroughness in which Sean Lee approaches the game seems to be seems to be contagious between the two. Fans likely want to see less of Carter on the field translating to the Cowboys offense possessing the ball more but until that happens and the team has to have someone manning the middle in the absence of Sean Lee then Bruce Carter seems to be more than a viable option.