Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
When you’re the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, expectations are high. For Chiefs’ offensive tackle, Eric Fisher, perhaps the expectations were too high.
The Chiefs’ rookie has struggled this season, whether it be with injury or inconsistent play, and those struggles continued against the Oakland Raiders this past Sunday afternoon.
Sure, his team is 6-0, so there’s plenty to feel good about, but if you were to judge Fisher solely based off his individual performances this season, the feelings wouldn’t be as good.
To put it lightly, Fisher has struggled to translate his 6’7”, 306 pound frame to the NFL game.
Leaving him on an island to block a defender one-on-one is a major gamble, because at this point, his inconsistencies can end up really hurting the Chiefs’ offense, and Alex Smith.
Let’s take a look at the film.
Note: Screen grabs via NFL Rewind. Markings are my own.
For Fisher, the struggle started on the first offensive play of the game for Kansas City, when he was blown back off the line of scrimmage on a bull rush. Notice how he’s back on his heels and he’s stood straight up:
The defender gives one more shove, and he creates immense separation from Fisher, who is moving backwards at this point. The end result of this play was a sack on Smith. Fisher couldn’t handle the bull rush, and that’s something we’ve seen a few times this year already:
Here’s another example of Fisher struggling in pass protection. Here, his eyes are up field for some reason, despite the fact that he has a defender running through his inside gap. I’m not sure what he’s looking at here:
The defender shoots the gap, easily, and Fisher is left, well, doing nothing in particular:
That’s a play that’s sure to get you chewed out in the film room, and Fisher won’t be immune to the criticism here in the Arrowhead Addict film room either. This wasn’t just a rookie mistake, this was a bad football play that good linemen don’t make. Where were his eyes? Where is his awareness? This play should be cause for concern, because there are high school players who display more awareness.
Next up, we see Fisher struggling with a speed rush to the outside. All he has to do here is force the Raiders’ defender up field, which will allow Smith to step up into the pocket:
Unfortunately, and you can’t see it in the still-shot, Fisher gets beat by a nice club and rip move, which allows the defender to get a step on him, dip his shoulder and turn the corner. From there, it’s speed against a lack thereof, and the defender is able to get to Smith:
Thankfully, Smith was able to evade this somehow, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Fisher simply got burnt.
For the record, I still do believe that Fisher will be fine in the NFL. Remember, he’s coming from Central Michigan University, which is a huge jump to the NFL, and linemen do traditionally have a longer adjustment period then at other positions.
Fisher still has great size, and it’s not like he’s a complete failure. There were instances against Oakland when he displayed good footwork and upper body strength as a pass-blocker, and others when he was able to clear a running lane for Jamaal Charles with his strength and size.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Still, one cannot simply pretend that his struggles don’t exist, because they are very real.
At times, Fisher has looked less like a No. 1 overall pick and more like an undrafted project player. He’s been straight up beaten on more than one occasion, and he’s looked silly in the process.
The adjustment to the NFL is a tough one, and it is too early to come down with a final judgment on the rookie. But, at least in the early going of his career, things aren’t looking good.
Hopefully 2013 will be looked back on as an intense growing experience for the Chiefs’ offensive tackle, and hopefully he and the coaching staff will be able to clean up some of those issues and work on getting better throughout this year and into the offseason.
Hopefully, taking a chance on Fisher won’t come back to haunt the Chiefs when all is said and done.
Perhaps the only thing he can do is get better, because right now, he may not be able to get any worse.
Remember, the film doesn’t lie.