The Kansas City Chiefs lost 28-16 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night, and nobody should care about that. Nobody should care in the same vein that beating the Cincinnati Bengals 41-39 in the preseason opener does not matter either.
The preseason is for observing things that can, and likely will, translate into the regular season. Unfortunately, left tackle Eric Fisher's play could very well be one of those topics. Fisher allowed a sack against the Bengals, albeit some of the blame falling on Alex Smith failing to get the ball out on a three-step drop. On Sunday, Fisher takes the blame for what can only be described as a miserable evening.
Fisher was manhandled as the game went on, allowing Greg Hardy and others to put consistent pressure on Smith. The man drafted first-overall in 2013 is supposed to be the young star of the youngest offensive line in the NFL. Instead, Fisher is being outplayed by others on the line. He looks lost at times.
Fisher is generally solid in the run game. Why? Because he can be aggressive and more assertive. Fisher is excellent when he gets his hands on the defender first with a clear purpose in his mind. I did a pair of film studies on him this offseason (part 1 and part 2), and it became apparent that Fisher is just fine when he gets his hands inside.
The problem is when offensive linemen are in pass protection, they step back, not forward, at the beginning of the play. It is much more about being a technician and not a mauler. Fisher has yet to understand that he needs to go backwards but still beat the defender to the punch with his hands.
"Anytime you're coming off a significant injury," Andy Reid said in a conference call with reporters on Monday, "you have to continue to battle through and that's what this preseason has been for him. He's coming off of a shoulder surgery and you saw how he started the game. He started off like gangbusters and then as that arm gets tired he has a tendency to not shoot it quite as fast as he would when it's fresh. I'm not sure he's even conscious of that. You see that with players coming off knees, same thing. As the game goes on, they don't play off it as well as they do earlier in the game."
One play in particular showed how disastrous Fisher can be for this team. Hardy began to the outside, then cut back to the inside without being touched. Fisher literally began falling to the ground, watching as Hardy plowed past him. Luckily, Smith wasn't hurt on the play. If Fisher fails like that continuously, the Chiefs will not be so lucky at some point.
Fisher is on the field because Kansas City has such an investment in him. If he was a fourth-round pick, the narrative would be different. Nobody is saying there are great alternatives, but Fisher can't whiff on blocks.
Fisher made some decent plays last night, but it is the mistakes that are justifiably remembered. When you are protecting your season's blind side, you can't afford to have breakdowns. Nobody is perfect, but Fisher is going to need to be much better for Kansas City to have a winning season.