On Sunday’s matchup of the 4-3 Detroit Lions vs. the 4-3 Dallas Cowboys, the struggling LB Bruce Carter will draw one of the most difficult assignments on the team – Cover Reggie Bush.
Obviously Calvin Johnson is a beast and will require constant double teams if not triple teams by the Dallas Cowboys. But Reggie Bush provides a matchup nightmare for anyone, especially for Bruce Carter who has been abused by pass catching RB’s all season long.
Reggie Bush is the only RB in the NFC with over 400 yards rushing and over 300 yards receiving. In other words, he is a pass catching threat and a rushing threat. If he was just a pass catching threat the Cowboys could solve the mismatch problem by just bringing in a nickel or dime corner to handle the coverage. But because he’s also a rushing threat they can’t gamble in this way. Having an extra cornerback in for a rushing play would leave the Cowboys at a disadvantage.
That’s why Bruce Carter is so important. He is the primary weakside LB (WILL) which usually draws coverage responsibility for RBs when in man coverage. This season he has struggled to cover smaller/quicker pass-catching RBs.
Even last week – If Philadelphia QB, Nick Foles, could have hit the broad side of a barn, he had RB LeSean McCoy open often. Despite the low receiving yards, Carter’s coverage was still pretty poor. Detroit Lions QB, Matthew Stafford if a much better QB than Foles. He won’t miss a wide open Reggie Bush.
Carter MUST improve his coverage.
What’s holding Carter back is all mental. Bruce Carter is one of the most athletic and physically gifted LBs in the NFL. He has the ability to cover RBs successfully but he’s lacking the knowledge, recognition, and confidence.
Often times Carter is a step behind. He’s slow to recognize the play, he’s hesitant to commit to the play, and then finds himself chasing the route rather than playing the coverage.
The short term solution is to play more dime coverage and remove Carter completely. This would concede the rushing yards but suppress the more damaging passing yards. The problem is that doesn’t really help develop Carter at all and cannot be a long-term answer.
The onus has to fall on Carter. He simply MUST improve.
Facing Reggie Bush really couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Carter will need to play farther off the line than he’s used to. If he’s taking a little too long in play recognition, he needs to be back far enough so he can recover. It’s not an ideal solution but it’s probably the best (and least damaging).
Calvin Johnson is going to get his. That much is a fact. But Reggie has the ability to kill the Cowboys if they can’t find a way to cover him. That’s why Bruce Carter is the key to victory on Sunday.
Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson