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Roster Rundown: Carr's Valleys Far Outweighed The 2013 Peaks


*Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features cornerback Brandon Carr.)*

Name: Brandon Carr
Position: Cornerback
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 206
Experience: 6 seasons
College: Grand Valley State

Key stat:With Carr covering Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson every play, the Lions' All-Pro had 14 catches on 16 targets for 329 yards and a touchdown.

Contract Status:Signed through 2016

2013 Impact: Before the 2013 season, I wrote an article about the adjustment Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne were going to have to make in order to fit in this scheme that Monte Kiffin was bringing to Dallas.

Carr and Claiborne were a much better fit for what Rob Ryan was trying to do in his 3-4 scheme, with all the man coverage he liked to play. There were going to be more opportunities to play in zone which to be honest, wasn't a strength of either of these players.

If you want to see Carr play at his best, take a look of the final two plays in Washington with the game on the line. He was in press man, he was physical and he was able to put himself in position to defend the route. This is the Brandon Carr that the Cowboys signed up for.

When you watch Carr play in zone coverage, the biggest issue he has is when receivers get a run on him, then he has to adjust from a standing position. He doesn't have the foot quickness or speed to be able to adjust to a receiver with free access. Now put him two yards off, let him stab with his hand, then position himself in the route, you have a much better player.

Weekly, you heard me talk about when receivers take him across the field how he struggles to run with them and the ball is caught on him. This is the example I am talking about. This scheme hurts him because receivers are able to get separation on him. The more Carr can play close and tight, the better chance he has to make a play. He is never going to have the foot quickness of Orlando Scandrick, so it's up to Rod Marinelli to allow him to play those types of coverages that he can excel in. But if they continue to play him off and don't play to his strengths, then this will become one expensive mistake.   

Where He Fits: Carr will go into camp once again as the starter at left cornerback. The year under his belt in this scheme should help him with his mental approach to the game, but like I said, these coaches need to help him with the physical side.

There is a great deal of pressure on Carr and Morris Claiborne to both pick up their games but to also be fair to them, the pass rush needs to improve as well, which would help their situation. Still, Carr is a better player than what he showed last season and that is what this front office and coaching staff are counting on. [embedded_ad]

There needs to be more consistency in his game instead of two outstanding games like he had against Philadelphia and Washington – rather than the others, where he didn't look remotely like the same player. There is no question of his ability -- he just needs to show it more often.

Writers' Analysis

Nick Eatman: Brandon Carr is yet another example of a player whose contract figures get talked about when he struggles. In 2012, I don't recall him being labeled a $50 million man when he was making huge game-changing plays to win games.

But this past year was a rough go for Carr, especially in some of the one-on-one matchups with star receivers. He was the Cowboys' best option to face Calvin Johnson in Detroit, and still gave up the most receiving yards in a four-quarter game. And really, you can go back to training camp and see the struggles Carr had.

He was giving up plays back in August. Now he did have some game-changing plays this past year, with a pick-six to beat the Giants and a big interception against the Raiders. But for the most part, it was a tough year. The solution? Fix the pass rush. I promise Carr will look 10 times better if they can figure out a way to get more pressure on the quarterback

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