Eric Fisher will begin his career this Sunday as the 2013 NFL season is ready to kick off in full force this weekend and the Kansas City Chiefs begin their campaign in Jacksonville against the other 2-14 team from a year ago. There are several things we are all eager to see but the one I am going to focus the spotlight on in week one is the play of Kansas City’s rookie right tackle.
Eric Fisher, of course, was the Chiefs first pick in this past NFL Draft – the first pick overall. He has suffered through a myriad of small injuries through training camp and the preseason, holding back his development to a certain extent. We are still not sure what Fisher will bring to the Chiefs as their new right tackle.
When he did play this preseason, it did not always yield positive results. The Kansas City offensive line as a unit did not play all that well for a good chunk of the exhibition games but those performances are not necessarily a reflection of what will happen now that the games are for real.
It will be interesting to see how well Fisher plays against starting defensive ends when actually games are on the line. Will he be able to protect quarterback Alex Smith‘s right side? Will he be able to open holes in the running game, or get out wide if the Chiefs run to the outside? These are all questions we hope to have at least some answers to after Sunday’s outing against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars were not a very passing rushing team in 2012. As a team, they only accumulated 20 sacks. The tackle who will most likely be opposite Fisher is Tyson Alualu, who had 3.5 sacks last year, and has recorded 9.5 in his three seasons with the Jaguars. Alualu is a solid defensive end but not a beast in the pass rush department. He should be a decent first game opponent to see how Fisher may measure up.
There is always the chance Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley may decide to play veteran end Jason Babin over the rookie. Andy Reid is very familiar with with Babin, who recorded 18 sacks in 2011, while toiling under Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles. Reid cut Babin after 11 games last season, despite the fact the end had 5.5 sacks. Babin added another sack and a half after to being picked up by Jacksonville.
If Gus Bradley feels there isn’t enough pass rush, he may choose to pit the wily vet Babin against Fisher rather than left tackle Brandon Albert. If that happens, the spotlight might very well reveal whether or not Fisher is ready for the big time.
If Fisher does struggle against Alualu or Babin, it will force the Chiefs to help out more by keeping the tight end and/or a running back in to help out in pass protection. Of course, if they are helping block, they will not be in a pass pattern. ‘
Reid’s scheme and Alex Smith‘s strength are to make quick, short passes, and that should alleviate some of the pressure if Fisher struggles somewhat.
Also keep an eye on how effective Eric Fisher is in the running game, and how much the Chiefs run to the right side. It will be intriguing to see if he can open some holes for Jamaal Charles. It also will be interesting to see if the rookie can get to the outside when necessary to block when the Chiefs try to run to the outside.
Fisher is obviously a talented tackle or he would never been taken first overall. Jacksonville is actually a very advantageous first opponent for Fisher to launch his pro career. They are not the best pass rushing defense in the league and maybe Fisher can find his comfort zone early in the season.
Just for giggles, keep an eye on the tackle the Chiefs passed on to take Fisher. Luke Joeckel and Fisher will be forever intertwined throughout their careers, for better of for worse.
Let’s just hope the Chiefs made the right choice.