One crushing blow to the Chiefs AFC Championship victory will leave a gaping hole in the Super Bowl. As reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network on Monday and originally insinuated by Andy Reid, Eric Fisher has torn his Achilles. Unfortunately for Kansas City, this is nothing new for their offensive line. A unit that has gone through trying stretches of play, was appearing to put it all together in the AFC playoffs. The injuries have mounted throughout the season, however.
Before the start of the season, 2020 third round pick Lucas Niang and veteran Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out. They also lost a couple of studs during the season in succeeding weeks. In the Week Five loss to the Raiders, Kelechi Osemele tore tendons in both knees. Meanwhile, Mitchell Schwartz has not played since the Week Six win over Buffalo due to a nagging back injury. Coach Reid and the Chiefs will now have their work cut out for them even more, without the Big Fish protecting Patrick Mahomes‘ blindside.
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Since being drafted number one overall in 2013, Fisher has become more impressive year after year. The 30 year old Central Michigan product has started 113 regular season games and 11 postseason games for Kansas City. In the last few seasons, Eric Fisher has become more stout when anchoring against pass rushers, his penalties have dropped to near unnoticeable numbers and teammates respond to his leadership.
He suffered a devastating core muscle injury early last season. That loss was felt heavily by the Chiefs offense. Not only was Mahomes dealing with a bum ankle, he was feeling more heat by pressuring opponents than ever before. Additionally over the last couple of years, the Chiefs are 26-1 when the left tackle is in the lineup. Without Eric Fisher? Kansas City is just 4-5. So despite it being a group effort up front, his loss could greatly affect the offensive line in Super Bowl LV.
What Does Future Hold?
Where this injury hurts for both Fisher and the Chiefs, does not just limit itself to the Super Bowl. This could also lead into the 2021 season as well. The reports of recovery time needed for a torn Achilles has varied anywhere from six to seven months. Eight months is also a possibility. This means that Fisher may not be completely ready for the start of training camp. Elsewhere, you have to believe the team will take as many precautions needed as possible, before resuming football activities at game speed. 2021 is also the final year of Fisher’s current contract with Kansas City.
If you have been following our early 2021 NFL Draft content for FPC Chiefs, you know how big of a need the offensive line already was. This injury puts another substantial wrench into Kansas City’s offensive plans of team building. Will the Chiefs add to the blocking unit just as much in free agency now, as they do in April’s draft? Does general manager Brett Veach and his scouting department focus more on versatile linemen who can play multiple positions? Or, do we see the Chiefs attempt to put all their eggs in the baskets of top ranked offensive tackles who are best suited for playing on the outside?
There is still time for the team to figure that out. But for now, how does losing Eric Fisher affect the Chiefs offense in the Super Bowl?
KC’s Possible Strategy
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some of the more daunting opposing pass rushers that the Chiefs have seen this season. Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett are the type of players who can easily accentuate Kansas City’s offense. And they are red hot right now. JPP had two sacks in last Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. To boot, he has registered five quarterback hits and four tackles for loss in his last five games. Barrett amassed three sacks of his own in the NFC Championship Game. He has nine quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss in his last six games. In the first meeting against the Chiefs this year, the duo sacked Mahomes once apiece. Barrett’s hit also led to a fumble. Let’s not forget that he broke out with a 19.5 sack season in 2019.
So what will the Chiefs attempt to do without Eric Fisher? In the late stages of the AFC title game, we saw Mike Remmers shift over from right tackle to left tackle. Andrew Wylie kicked out to right tackle. And finally, Stefen Wisniewski slid into right guard. Austin Reiter and Nick Allegretti remained in their roles at center and left guard, respectively. More than likely, Coach Reid will look to use his running backs or tight ends to help chip early. We may also see a greater attention to use combo blocks. The Chiefs went this route early in the season while the blocking unit was struggling.
QB And Weapons May Help Balance Offense
We also know Mahomes is just as deadly when performing outside of structure. His ability to remain accurate and keep his eyes downfield while on the run, is nearly unmatched. Furthermore, Mahomes has shown the ability to change his drop backs and navigate well in the pocket.
Executing on the offensive line as well as they have lately should give Reid confidence. His history of developing blockers is well documented. Moreover, he has the quick passing game to go along with many layers of speed and misdirection at his disposal.
Be on the lookout for FPC Chiefs articles with focus on the Super Bowl throughout the week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.