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Eric Fisher was good enough for the Chiefs, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was not

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It's no secret the Kansas City Chiefs offense was a disaster the majority of the evening against the Packers. It's also no secret that the offensive line and Alex Smith took turns demolishing plays (it's good that they're doing things together, I guess).

However, what I wasn't able to ascertain upon first viewing was how individual players along the offensive line were doing. More specifically, Eric Fisher (the new RT who is the old LT) and Laurent Something With a D Something With A T I'm Tired of Forgetting His Name Let's Just Call Him LDT Right Away (not his real name, for the record).

Now, almost everyone who watched the game walked away shaking their head at the Canadian doctor man, and rightfully so. He had some snaps where it was brutally clear he hurt the play. However, like any other time, we have to remember there are a LOT of snaps in a game, and to really make a clear judgment we need to go back and review things once the emotion of watching the Chiefs get hammered in front of the entire country has subsided.

So here we are to grade Fisher and LDT. If you haven't been here before, I review every snap on all-22 (the "Madden" angle is particularly wonderful for watching offensive linemen go to work) and keep track of "wins" and "losses" (in both running and passing plays) as well as "neutral" plays. A win is not getting beat. A loss is getting beat. Yes, I put a LOT more thought into it and could spend 2,000 words explaining exactly what I'm looking for. No, I'm not going to do that. A neutral play is one in which the lineman either didn't do anything on the play worth noting (think of a quick slant where the OL barely engages) or where he was basically stalemated with the defensive player.

We'll do the numbers for each player followed by some thoughts on the games they had. This will be a little more brief than normal because, well, I'm already getting tired of talking about that mess of a game.


Pass Block Win Pass Block Loss Run Block Win Run Block Loss Neutral Loss Percentage
15 8 4 3 34 17.19%

Those numbers are ... concerning. I stated in one of these columns (one on Mitch Morse. Those are generally happier columns) that if a player's loss percentage creeps to 10 percent I start to worry a little, depending on how bad those losses are and how much they are affecting the game.

(Quick side note here: one problem with this method is that not all losses are created equal. We'll get into that more in a second, but it's quite simply an unavoidable issue with quantifying things this way. Maybe I'll add a "play-altering loss" stat next time. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you'd like that addition)

17 perent? That's ugly. Really, really ugly. In LDT's case, there are two factors that make the loss percentage even more concerning than it is on its face; the lack of wins and the types of losses.

The lack of wins is easy enough to point out. LDT didn't have all that many pass blocking plays where he just flat out WON. A neutral play is generally good enough in pass protection, but all too often it seemed like LDT was just BARELY hanging onto that neutral, rather than clearly winning the snap. If he's constantly appearing to be on the edge of losing, that can't help Smith (already lowering his eyes way too much) keep his eyes down the field.

And as far as the nature of those losses ... well, I can show you better than I can tell you.

That's about as bad as it gets for an OL (baring the ol' Dontari Poe-style club humiliation). When LDT loses, it's generally a really, really, REALLY bad loss that happens nearly instantly. A loss like that alters the play, sometimes (like a couple plays in a row on the third quarter TD drive where LDT gave up sacks) completely blowing it up before it can even get started.

LDT's primary issue seems to be technique. The man leans on defenders rather than keeping his feet under him (a solid base) and "punching." He lunges and leans his weigh against defenders instead. I don't know if this is because he's afraid of getting overpowered or just a bad habit, but NFL defenders will absolutely kill you if you commit that mistake. Even high school offensive lineman are taught not to do it.

LDT seems to have enough strength to play at the NFL level, and he's got wonderful athleticism in space. But currently, he's getting beat far too often and far too badly to be starting. Hopefully he cleans up his technique OR Jeff Allen (an adequate player who won't commit the same technique and mental mistakes) gets healthy enough to step in at RG.


Pass Block Win Pass Block Loss Run Block Win Run Block Loss Neutral Loss Percentage
30 5 4 2 23 10.94%

In his first action at RT for this season, Fisher was ... adequate.

Like I mentioned before, a loss percentage at 10 percent or above worries me. However, Fisher had a couple of losses that appeared to stem from rusty lateral movement. That could be a result of the injury he's recovering from OR just getting used to being on the right side again. Fisher's athleticism and movement has never been his issue, so I expect that to clean up.

Remember how I said LDT's lack of "wins" made it harder to stomach the losses? With Fisher it's different, particularly in pass protection. Fisher had quite a few snaps where his defender got nowhere near Smith. There's a big difference between that an a "neutral" snap in which a lineman barely hangs on.

Another difference between the two is that Fisher's losses (with several notable exceptions) weren't nearly as "holy crap that's bad" as LDT's were. Sure, a loss is a loss. But a loss in which the lineman at least manages to slow the defender down or redirect him a little might not blow up a play the way an utter failure does.

Fisher, as I noted during the preseason, appears stronger than he was last season. He's still not a powerhouse but he's no longer getting steamrolled by defenders and shows a little more ability to re-anchor when bull rushed. He also improved as the game went along, with all but two of his losses coming in the first half from what I could see.

Fisher didn't play a great game, but he was better than Jah Reid had been and was certainly adequate. I'll take that as a good sign for now as he rounds into shape. Hopefully as he gets into the swing of things (like, you know, this Sunday) he shows more of what he was showing during his brief preseason action. For a first game back, I guess I'll take it (considering I don't have much of a choice).

This next Sunday is going to be ... interesting to watch. The entire offensive line needs to up its consistency, as does Alex Smith. Because pockets that look like this...


... lead to throws like the one Smith made here, resulting in a 60-yard gain to Jeremy Maclin.

Keep an eye on the LDT situation. So far I haven't heard any whispers of Allen being inserted into the starting lineup. I'm not sure LDT can survive another week like the one he had against Green Bay.

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