Going into the 2013 season, Bruce Carter seemed primed for a breakout season. He had just had a fantastic rookie year and was playing in a defense that seemed to fit his abilities the best.
However, Carter did not live up to expectations. He started 13 games but was benched multiple times throughout the season for poor play.
However, people didn't realize how hard transitioning to a totally new defense is for a young player. The Cowboys switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense and from the enigmatic Rob Ryan to the more subdued Monte Kiffin.
The Cowboys are switching defensive coordinators again, but the change shouldn't be drastic since Marinelli is one of Kiffin's proteges.
Another year at the "Will" linebacker means Carter will be more comfortable and confident in this role. As with anything, the more you do it the easier it becomes.
Jason Garrett said, "I think the second year in this system will allow him to kind of learn from his experiences last year — both good and bad —and grow," per The Dallas Morning News' Rainer Sabin.
Thus far, Carter has shown significant improvement in his play. Per The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said:
It’s him getting his eyes on the quarterback and doing a great job of breaking on the ball. He’s doing what we’re asking him to do. He knows what he has to do. He’s trying to make a step every day to work to get better.
A new wrinkle that should help Carter is that he will always be covered by the 3-technique defensive tackle, a strategy Kiffin did not employ. This will allow Carter to better get to the ball without having to deal with offensive linemen in his face right off the snap. This should allow Carter to better utilize his athleticism by playing from sideline to sideline.
If Carter is more confident in the scheme and concepts he will be able to play to his full potential.
The small, subtle differences in this year's defensive scheme, along with Carter being more comfortable at "Will" linebacker, will lead to a much improved season.