According to his defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Indianapolis Colts cornerback T.J. Carrie has been a versatile, invaluable defensive back with his ability to cover the slot, play outside, and even contribute on special teams:
Matt Eberflus: "T.J. Carrie has been very valuable. He's that piece we were looking for last year."— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) November 17, 2020
Speaking on his versatility and being able to play all over the field.
The 30 year old cornerback had endured a tough season with the Cleveland Browns secondary in 2019, and the veteran was given a modest 1-year, $1.047 million deal—as a little more than an afterthought given the Colts bigger, bolder offseason additions.
After being waived by his former team, Carrie knew it was time for a quick turnaround:
When T.J. Carrie got released by the Browns, he took a hard look at what got him cut, and he felt like he'd gotten away from playing instinctive football.— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) November 17, 2020
After all, with another consecutive down season, the 7-year veteran might be on his last leg in the league as an NFL cornerback in the eyes of team talent evaluators.
In Matt Eberflus’ defensive scheme, which has revitalized his playing career (and brought out his best ability), Carrie has been able to play fast, aggressive, and instinctive football—having already made 2 interceptions in 8 games (2 starts):
Colts CB T.J. Carrie on the most important part of playing in a Matt Eberflus defense: effort. "In the defensive scheme, you have to run. He forces you to run. And there are things done if you don't run."— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) November 17, 2020
During 2020, Carrie’s been a natural fit as an insurance policy for Colts standout slot cornerback Kenny Moore, who’s battled some injuries—as the Indianapolis secondary isn’t nearly the same without having an impactful defensive back covering the inside routes:
The #Colts in 2020 wanted better production in the slot when top CB Kenny Moore II wasn’t able to be on the field. Last season, in Weeks 13-17 particularly, with Moore II out with an ankle injury, the Indy defense really struggled in this area.— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) November 15, 2020
Enter T.J. Carrie. Stats via @PFF. pic.twitter.com/OsriyKOxI6
Per PFF, Carrie is currently their 11th best graded cornerback overall with a +77.7 grade overall.
Carrie’s also contributed on special teams, as he played in 49% of the team’s special teams snaps against the Tennessee Titans this past Thursday Night—which was highlighted by his 6-yard blocked punt touchdown return late in the 3rd quarter.
While the Colts had a number of headline offseason moves, Carrie’s signing was among the most impactful—and perhaps aside from fellow cornerback Xavier Rhodes, gave the Colts their biggest ‘bang for their buck’ respectively—as a shrewd under-the-radar pickup.
He continues to contribute at a high level for the Colts with his collective versatility and overall ‘can do’ attitude.