Bruce Carter Has Never Played Better Ball


Bruce Carter, the once maligned linebacker, has finally hit his stride. The 26 year-old fourth-year backer has had an up and mostly-down career with the Dallas Cowboys. Earlier in the season, it appeared the Cowboys had nearly given up on the once-promising LB from North Carolina.

Ever since the Cowboys converted to the 4-3, Carter has struggled finding a place in the defense. He was lost in coverage, hesitant to react, and even accused of having a misguided sence of entitlement. Nope, it appeared Bruce Carter was out of chances in Dallas and destined to serve his final year of his contract as nothing more than a reserve.

Multiple injuries to the LB changed everything for Bruce Carter and the Dallas Cowboys. Bruce Carter was forced into service at all three LB positions throughout this season. Thriving primarily as a SAM, Bruce has found a role playing more instinctively and in heavier traffic. Previously exposed in coverage, Carter recently made a name for himself in his stellar coverage play in week 17.

"“Bruce (Carter) played an outstanding game [Sunday],” said coach Garrett. “Matt (Eberflus) our LB coach does a great job with those guys and one of the ways we evaluate our LBs is by production points and Bruce set the record in production points yesterday not only the interceptions that he had but the number of tackles and really just showed up throughout the ballgame. (He) really played an outstanding game for us.”"

How well did Bruce Carter play? It depends who you ask but one thing everyone agrees on is that he played well.

"“He had 56 production points and it’s all relative to the number of plays that you play,” explained Garrett. “ You have positive production points and you have negative production points that take away from that total. At the end of the day 56 is pretty darn good.”"

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Garrett isn’t alone in his praise of Carter.

Pro Football Focus

(subscription required) also rated Carter with his best game of the season (2.5). The highly critical performance grading site hasn’t been kind to Carter over the years as Carter is notorious for delivering two poor plays for every great play.

After reviewing film and grading every play of his, I even graded him with a +3 grade (I use a -3 thru +3 scale) which is one of only four +3 scores I’ve given to someone this entire season. Not only yesterday but the past three games he’s earned positive scores (a first for him this season). It seems Carter has final started realizing his potential and make no mistake – his potential is immense.

"“Bruce has always had an aptitude for making plays on the ball whether its blocking punts or intercepting passes or picking up fumbles, he’s always had that knack and has done a good job for us this year in that regard,” expanded Garrett. “He leads our team in those categories. Like anybody else, he gets better with experience, we played a lot of different combinations of LBs this year because of injury and Bruce is one of those guys that stepped up for us on a number of different occasions.”"

Bruce Carter has been asked to a lot for the Cowboys and he’s responding in a big way. With Anthony Hitchens nursing a high-ankle sprain (something he’ll be dealing with for the next month) and Rolando McClain barely healthy enough to play games, let alone practice, it’s good to have Bruce Carter hitting his stride.

Bruce Carter, it’s great to see you ball like we all knew you could ball. Now keep it up and take us to the Promised Land.