NFL

Colts take calculated gamble on Fisher to fill crucial left tackle spot

By Sports Desk May 10, 2021

The Indianapolis Colts have taken a calculated gamble to fill a glaring hole on their offensive line.

According to multiple reports, the Colts have signed former number one overall pick Eric Fisher to a low-risk one-year deal.

The left tackle was released by the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in March as they remade their O-Line, Fisher having missed their Super Bowl LV blowout loss due to a torn Achilles.

Fisher may not be ready to make his return from that injury until early October, but the Colts are betting he can recapture the form that has seen him voted to the Pro Bowl twice in the past three seasons.

Can Fisher fill Castonzo void?

Fisher allowed a pressure rate of 10.9 per cent in 2020, above the league average of 8.9 per cent but a significant improvement on his 16 per cent pressure rate during a 2019 season in which he battled injuries while helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV.

What helped him earn a Pro Bowl nod last season, however, was the lack of sacks he allowed. He gave up only three, though Stats Perform data credited him with four adjusted sacks, which measure pressures on sack plays, even if the pressuring defender did not bring down the quarterback.

His adjusted sack rate allowed of 0.9 per cent was bettered by just eight left tackles with at least 100 pass protection snaps.

It followed a 2019 campaign in which his adjusted sack rate allowed of 1.1 per cent put him in a five-way tie for seventh among left tackles.

The Colts will hope he can prove an effective replacement for mainstay Anthony Castonzo, who retired in the offseason.

Castonzo allowed a pressure rate of 8.4 per cent and an adjusted sack rate of 1.5 per cent in 2020.

The statistics suggest Fisher should be able to fill the void left by Castonzo, but the Colts will have to rely on Sam Tevi at left tackle if Fisher is not ready in time for the start of the season.

Tevi up to the task?

Tevi is coming off his best season in the NFL with the Chargers, allowing a pressure rate of 10.1 per cent, one sack and three adjusted sacks for an adjusted sack rate of 0.8 per cent.

He outperformed Fisher by those metrics but hasn't performed with the consistency for the Colts to be certain he can perform at that level for the long term.

Tevi allowed six sacks in 2018 and 5.5 in 2019 playing right tackle, the latter season seeing him give up a pressure rate of 15.5 per cent - tied for fifth-worst among right tackles with at least 200 snaps - and an adjusted sack rate of 2.3 per cent.

The Colts are banking on Fisher getting healthy and returning to top form if and when he does. Should he fail to do so, they will be hoping Tevi's underrated 2020 was not an anomaly.

Though the Colts are not tied to either Fisher or Tevi beyond the 2021 season, for a team with Super Bowl aspirations but starting a quarterback in Carson Wentz who was sacked a league-high 50 times for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, they need to be right about at least one of their potential Castonzo successors.

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