I went back tonight and watched every defensive snap from this week's win over the Panthers to see just how well Colin McCarthy played in his first NFL start. Mike Munchak said in his Monday press conference that the coaching staff credited McCarthy with 12 tackles after watching the film. The thing that impressed me the most was his nose for the football. Even on some plays where he missed the tackle, he was in the right spot.
There were a couple of plays where he was out of position. In fact, both big runs that the Panthers had from their running backs were a result of McCarthy taking a step the wrong way, but it is impossible to expect a guy to be perfect when getting his first significant playing time in the NFL.
Barrett Ruud shouldn't lose his starting job due to an injury. He should lose it because the guy that is behind him and got to play while he was injured is a better player.
My observations are after the jump.
He looked good in coverage in the short zone against Greg Olsen on the second play of the game.
He was in perfect position on the wild cat play and made the tackle.
On the next play he fought off a blocker but missed the tackle. It looks early on like he could use a little work on his tackling, but his instincts are awesome.
Turned around on the next play and blew up a sweep.
Came through on a blitz on the very next play and flushed Cam Newton out of the pocket. It is amazing watching how he is involved in almost every play.
He guessed wrong on the 17 yard run by Jonathan Stewart. He stepped outside and Stewart cut it up right inside.
McCarthy was right there with the hit on the Olsen fumble. I don't think he caused it, but he was right there on the hit.
Made the tackle on 2nd and 3rd down on the series that was started off with a sack from Will Witherspoon.
He is just always around the ball- very rarely gets blocked.
He got caught outside on DeAngelo Williams's big run as well. That gives me a little bit of concern that both big runs went right past him, but that is something that can be corrected. The concern I have with Ruud is that he just can't make the plays anymore. That definitely isn't an issue with McCarthy.
Did a nice job of flowing down the line on a play where Cam got out side of the pocket and kept him from being able to run.
Came up and made a nice stop on a Newton scramble. He really did a good job all day of keeping Newton in front of him when he was running in the open field.
He had a great read on a screen pass and almost got a pick 6.