Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter (54) tackles Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys LB Bruce Carter Blames Scheme Change For His Recent Struggles


One of the biggest areas of concerns for the Dallas Cowboys during the upcoming regular season will be the linebacker position. And most of that focus will shine specifically on outside linebacker Bruce Carter. The fourth-year player out of North Carolina struggled last season despite recording career highs in both tackles (96) and sacks (2.0). Now, Carter is entering the final year of his rookie contract. And it’s unclear whether Dallas will choose to re-sign him at year’s end.

Carter is now blaming the transition in defensive schemes for his recent playing issues. During a charity bowling event last week between himself and fellow teammate, safety Barry Church, Carter answered the following twitter question as part of an interview with Gina Miller, host of the show Cowboys Special Edition with Jerry Jones.

Q: (You) seemed to be particularly challenged last year. Was it the new 4-3 defensive scheme?

A: “Yes, I think that was it for me. Just being more comfortable with the system. Going from the previous year in the 3-4, playing Mike to outside, playing Will; which is kind of like night and day. But in the same sense, it’s still playing linebacker. I think for me, (it’s about) just getting more comfortable at that position and knowing my role and just going from there.”

After a rookie year limited by injury, Carter began living up to the second round selection used by the Cowboys back in 2011, earning a starting role in his second season. But many considered 2013 a disappointment for the young linebacker as coverage issues landed him on the bench for two games. Lack of depth and injuries to the Cowboys linebacker corps forced his return to the starting lineup. But in many fans eyes, the damage was done. And now the word “draft bust” is being tossed around.

But Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones believes the best is yet to come for Carter. Here’s what Jones said about the speedy linebacker in a February interview with the Dallas Morning News:

“There’s an old adage, if you’ve seen him do it a few times, you know they can do it at least and you go from there. We know (Carter) can do what this defense calls for and be outstanding. We have some real reasons to be excited about him and certainly he’d be the first to say that he had some things that he’d like to take back. Overall, he’s got a future here … and that’s a positive. It’s not a condition, he’s going to become more of a pro and more understanding about the kind of commitment and the kind of detail and preparation it takes and he’ll be a lot better for it. He’s got the other stuff that nobody can coach, and that is speed and physical assets.”

Regardless of the lip service paid by Jerry Jones, the Cowboys front office hasn’t signed Carter to an extension yet. And it doesn’t appear they are in a rush to do so either. Make no mistake about it: In 2014, Carter is playing for his job. And if he struggles with Dallas’ defensive scheme this season, Carter won’t have to worry about that pesky playbook anymore. He can just turn it in to the Turk on his way out.

Tags: Bruce Carter Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones Linebacker

  • ctcowboy1968

    Definitely paying for his job and future contract whether with Cowboys or elsewhere. He better bring it this year as he is certainly not a priority re-sign for the Cowboys. The physical talent is there, he just has to perform.

  • David

    Tired of excuses.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    Exemplifies part of the problem with the Cowboys. Too many players not taking responsibility for their poor performance. It is easier to put the blame elsewhere. If I were the general manager he would instantly be trade bait.

  • Greg Hill

    I appreciate the censorship. Coming from a journalist who makes his living via his 1st amendment rights you have lost your credibility. I wrote nothing vulgar or illegal, only my opinion. Now do your job and censor this and whatever else doesn’t meet your approval.

  • SmartThinking

    You know, every time players who have failed start blaming anyone or anything other than their own poor play, it’s time for them to hit the road. That kind of crap is unbelievably infectious on any team or in any environment where people depend on others to pull their weight so they can as well.

    In my opinion, Carter has seen the writing on the wall. His excuses for under performance tell me, at least mentally, he’s already packing his bags.

  • BradAustin

    Several players on the team had trouble switching from the responsibilities of the 3-4 to the Tampa 2 4-3. Normally reliable DB’s became confused in zones. LB’s were not getting enough depth in their expanded drops, etc. The defensive coaches even said it would take them time to adjust. Tony Dungy said before the season it was a 2-3 year project before we see strong results. Part of his reason was the adjustment it will take for our current guys switching into different responsibilities.

    I agree with Carter to an extent. If scheme change wasn’t at fault then an incredibly unusual number of quality starters who had strong 2012 all of the sudden became pedestrian. Don’t think that’s the true story for the most part. But the reality is this season will tell us what the deal is with them. They blow it again and it’s all their own fault.

  • californy

    For me Carter is making excuses for not getting the job done. A good DC would use the skill of his player to help him make more plays