KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After the first offensive play for the Kansas City Chiefs
in their game last Thursday at Philadelphia it promised to be a long night for quarterback Alex Smith
and the team's offense.
At right tackle, the NFL's No. 1 draft choice Eric Fisher
set himself to pass protect for Smith. Eagles' outside linebacker Connor Barwin
took a jab step to his left, and then busted past the left shoulder of Fisher, exploding through the "B" gap and getting right into Smith's face, forcing the Chiefs' quarterback to throw the ball early. Barwin landed in Smith's chest and took him to the ground.
Before the game was over Smith was sacked five times, and Fisher had a part in three of those plays. After a decent performance in the season opener against Jacksonville and mediocre play against Dallas, Fisher followed up with his worst NFL performance against the Eagles.
The fact he was the first selection in the 2013 NFL Draft has increased the scrutiny on the Central Michigan product. If he had been the 32nd choice in the first round, the arm-chair evaluators might be less judgmental after only three games.
Fisher, along with fellow top of the first-round lineman like Luke Joeckel (Jacksonville), Lane Johnson (Philadelphia) and D.J. Fluker (San Diego) have all struggled in the first September of their NFL careers. In fact, among the nine offensive lineman selected in the first round, only Chicago guard Kyle Long has performed at a winning level over all three games.
As the 3-0 Chiefs prepare for a home game against the New York Giants, Fisher is trying to learn from his mistakes.
"Everybody makes mistakes in this game," Fisher said. "I look at the film. I look at my assignments and I learn from those mistakes and do my best to not make them again. Every day I'm going to be a stronger player."
Publicly, nobody around the Chiefs organization is questioning the selection of Fisher with the No. 1 pick. That's largely because there hasn't been anything out of the ordinary with the struggles that Fisher has had. Plus, the Chiefs are 3-0 after a season when they went 2-14.
"There's no worries here with Fish," veteran guard Geoff Schwartz said of Fisher. "We're 3-0. He's a rookie and he's learning the game. When you watch the tape there are a lot of good things happening out there with him. His issues have been on pass blocking and that's something that comes with time. It takes time to know the spacing, the angles and stuff like that."
It turns out that Fisher's worst critic is Fisher.
"It's tough mentally, physically and emotionally," Fisher said. "There's a lot that comes with this game and you have to learn to roll with the punches."
Fisher's work-ethic and willingness to spend extra time watching tape and working on fundamentals has not slowed despite his on-the-field struggles.
"I appreciate his effort," said head coach Andy Reid. "He's just trying to do everything the right way and he battles. Sometimes he gets himself in awkward positions, but he has the athletic ability and he fights his way out of it."
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