Michael Carter’s film vs. Bengals is extremely impressive

Rookie running back Michael Carter was the best player on the field in the New York Jets‘ win over the Bengals.

Carter had the most productive game of his young career, collecting 172 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. He led the team in nearly all offensive categories: rushing yards, receiving yards, catches, and total targets. Carter alone accounted for more than a third of the Jets’ total offense, despite 10 other players touching the ball.

The UNC product wasn’t just a piece of the offense – he was the focal point.

Carter’s tape more than backs up the numbers, showcasing his limitless potential as an offensive weapon.

From the very first play of the game through the final drive, Carter torched the Bengals’ defense. His elite vision, contact balance, and elusiveness make him a terror to tackle in space, as Cincy found out for themselves on Carter’s first-quarter touchdown.

It’s first and goal from the Cincy eight-yard line, and the Jets are trying to cap off their opening drive with a score. New York calls a Strong Toss to the left, with guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and tight end Tyler Kroft pulling ahead as lead blockers.

The Jets do a great job on the front side of the play, opening the lane for Carter to cut through. However, center Connor McGovern fails to seal the Mike linebacker, who barrels down on Carter as he hits the hole.

Carter, unfazed by the defender now in his way, casually sidesteps outside and leaves the Mike grasping at air. Once clear, he easily strolls into the endzone to give the Jets their first, and only, opening quarter points of the year.

Perfectly blocked run plays are a rarity in the NFL, and the best backs can still produce without them. Carter’s ability to stay alert and alter his path on the fly made up for McGovern’s error and made sure a well-blocked run wasn’t ruined by one missed assignment.

Later in the second quarter, Carter flashed his receiving skills by dusting a Bengals linebacker in coverage.

The Jets are in a two-minute drill, down 17-7 with less than 90 seconds before halftime. New York calls their staple Levels concept, with Carter as a check-down underneath. Quarterback Mike White is pressured quickly off the snap, and abandons the Levels concept to find Carter.

Carter is isolated in man coverage against Bengals’ linebacker Logan Wilson, running an Option route. The “option” comes from Carter’s ability to break right or left, depending on the leverage of Wilson.

After the snap, Carter leaks upfield and squares himself to Wilson, From this position, Carter can break in either direction easily, and without tipping Wilson off to where he’s going.

Carter stays square while gaining ground, forcing Wilson to stop his feet. Once Wilson’s feet stop moving, Carter reads his inside leverage and cuts outside, leaving Wilson trailing behind.

White delivers an accurate ball despite the pressure, and Carter runs for 12 yards after the catch. The Jets would finish the drive with a touchdown to receiver Braxton Berrios, but they wouldn’t have gotten the chance without Carter’s efforts.

When Michael Carter fell to the 107th pick of the 2021 draft, the Jets’ war room was celebrating like they had just struck gold. After Carter’s decimation of the Bengals, it’s easy to see why. Carter is only scratching the surface of what he can become. His ability as a runner and receiver fit the modern NFL like a glove, and he should only continue to improve with more experience.

Carter’s potential to be an offensive catalyst in the mold of Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, or Dalvin Cook should have Jets fans beaming with excitement. The NFL is all about matchups, and Michael Carter looks like a matchup nightmare ready to take the league by storm.

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Andrew Golden is a film analyst for Jets X-Factor with a focus on the NFL Draft, prospect evaluations and breaking down scheme fits. He also co-hosts the Oklahoma Drill Podcast with Vitor Paiva and Matt Mauro. Email: agoldenjets@gmail.com


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