The Indianapolis Colts finally made a move at left tackle this offseason, signing former first overall pick Eric Fisher to a one-year deal. Fisher is someone who has a history with Chris Ballard, as he was the first selection the Chiefs made with Chris Ballard as the Director of Football Operations back in 2013. Fisher had a bit of a rough start to his NFL career, allowing 19 sacks in his first three seasons. He was able to turn it around in recent years though and was even named to the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2020. He was released this offseason after suffering a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship game against the Bills.
With Fisher being the current answer at left tackle, I decided to jump in the film room and check out his game.
The Indianapolis Colts are one of the rare teams in the NFL who deploy mostly aggressive sets in pass protection. This means that instead of the typical vertical set (which is a pass protection technique that sees the offensive tackle essentially take steps backward off the snap), the Colts prefer their tackles to quickly jump and get on defensive ends in pass pro. Eric Fisher is one of the offensive tackles in the NFL who is prolific in these types of sets, as his elite athleticism allows him to get out on edge rushers in a hurry. He uses this technique on a majority of his pass sets, so the fit in Indy is perfect in this regard. This video could have included most of his snaps in 2020 but I opted to just grab a few clips that best illustrate this.
Eric Fisher is very proficient in quick, aggressive sets (angle sets and jump sets). As he transitions to a team a team that almost exclusively uses aggressive sets, this should bode well for him. Could have made this video 30 minutes long with how often he quick set pic.twitter.com/xXrcd2uzos— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) May 10, 2021
Anthony Castonzo was a great offensive tackle for the Colts for a long time. He was a great athlete who could make any block but he struggled with moving defensive linemen off their spot. While Fisher is not a top-tier run blocker by any means, he is much better at moving bodies and performing combo blocks to open up space than Castonzo ever was. This has the ability to open up the Colts’ run game even more in 2021.
Eric Fisher's athleticism and power in the run game show up quite a bit on film. I wouldn't call him a dominant run blocker by any means but he is an improvement over Anthony Castonzo in my opinion pic.twitter.com/gvFeoqa2Nw— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) May 10, 2021
Technique in Pass Protection
The two things that really stand out to me in pass protection with Fisher are his hands and his athleticism. I have mentioned his athleticism quite a few times in this piece but Fisher truly is an elite athlete (and it was a big reason why he went number one overall in 2013). He posted a 5.05 forty-yard dash (92nd percentile), 116 inch broad jump (98th percentile), and 4.44 second shuttle time (96th percentile) back at the 2013 NFL Combine. Those are all elite marks that show up constantly on his film. With this athleticism, he is able to recover with ease if he is beat during a pass pro rep.
When it comes to his hands, I think this is a truly underrated part of his game. He has excellent grip strength and locks down pass rushers when he gets proper positioning. When he is facing speed rushers, he has great technique with his hand placement and is able to stymie bendy pass rushers with ease. He wins in the hand fighting game more often than not and uses his quick feet and constant hand re-positioning to frustrate pass rushers. These two traits make him an absolute pain for speed/finesse pass rushers.
Eric Fisher wins in pass protection with his hands and athleticism. Patient with really good grip strength. If he gets beat, his athleticism is an easy way to recover and regain positioning. Slowed down five clips to illustrate this pic.twitter.com/RAYEzOcEHe— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) May 10, 2021
I felt I needed to highlight Fisher’s biggest issue is his struggles with power rushers, particularly with his anchor. He is a great athlete who knows how to mitigate this issue with quick sets but he does get knocked back on his heels a bit too much in pass protection. The issues seem to come mainly on long arms as he doesn’t have the natural strength in his lower half to fight off this powerful rush. While it may be a bit late in his career to truly fix this flaw, I’d love to see the Colts’ coaching staff work with him on using his hands to breaking the long arm rather than fighting it off on his heels. It is a manageable weakness but certainly something to note in his scouting report.
My biggest concern with Fisher though is his anchor. Defensive ends can long arm him and beat him with power. He knows how to mask this but jumping ends quickly and making first contact but it is still an issue.— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) May 10, 2021
Overall though, a good left tackle who keeps this line legit pic.twitter.com/B7g5pSNaRF
Overall, I am a fan of this signing, even if I don’t think Fisher is the elite offensive tackle that others may seem to think. He has great technique and athleticism but his lack of strength and anchor in his lower half does hurt him, especially for a team that sees Bud Dupree twice a year now. If Fisher is able to regain most of his athleticism after his Achilles injury, then this signing will be successful.
The best way that I can break it down is that the Colts’ certainly upgraded over the 2020 rundown version of Anthony Castonzo (if Fisher is the same post-injury). While I don’t think Fisher is as good as the peaks of Castonzo, he brings a similar level of athleticism and veteran savvy to the left side of the Colts’ offensive line. Hopefully, Fisher doesn’t miss too much time this season and the Colts’ can keep the status quo on their dominant offensive line.