With the exit of Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee due to injury earlier this offseason, the need for elevated play from the team’s other starting linebackers has now become a real necessity in 2014. And that fact is especially true when it comes to the play of fourth-year outside linebacker Bruce Carter. But according to one national writer, so far this offseason, inconsistency is still plaguing the Cowboys 2011 second round pick.
When asked about how Carter has looked during OTAs this offseason, ESPNDallas’ Todd Archer responded:
“I wish I could say he’s been different than in the past, but he’s been about the same. I’m not meaning to sound down on him, but it’s difficult to cover Jason Witten. I haven’t noticed him on backs as much and he struggled there last year. But he’s been in position a few times and not made a play. He’s made some plays. It’s been OK. He needs to be better than OK. That doesn’t mean he has to turn into Derrick Brooks, but he has to take a step forward. Sometimes he will do something and you’ll say, Wow. Other times you’re left wondering what he was watching.”
That’s somewhat depressing news as many of us hoped Carter would respond to the fact that this is the final year of his rookie deal with Dallas. And with there being “zero” talk about the Cowboys signing him to an extension any time soon, you’d think Carter would be motivated to perform better now more than ever. But to hear he’s still struggling could simply be confirmation Carter has hit his talent ceiling. And that’s bad news.
Despite posting career highs in tackles (96) and sacks (2.0), Carter’s poor play (especially in coverage) cost him his startling role for two games. And more red flags went up for many fans last month when Carter blamed the Cowboys new 4-3 defensive scheme for his issues.
“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.”
It’s going to be difficult for a stagnate Carter to blame the defensive scheme again after yet another year of tutelage under it. But chances are he’d be labeled another Dallas draft bust and find himself playing elsewhere in 2015 anyway.
Still, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones believes Carter can still salvage his career in Dallas. But, as Archer stated, the young linebacker needs to take a step forward this season. And so far this offseason, it’s not looking too good. And that’s bad news for all Cowboys fans.