Oct 18, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Jake Fisher (75) stands on the field between plays against the Washington Huskies at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
When the Cincinnati Bengals took Jake Fisher in the second round of this year’s draft, many fans were left perplexed and frustrated. They had just selected an offensive tackle in the first round (Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi); so selecting a second seemed like overkill. Many fans also took this selection as a sign that the team was, again, looking to the future rather than employing a “win now” strategy for the coming season. Although many fans likely maintain these opinions, the plan for Jake Fisher in 2015 is beginning to take shape.
Upon drafting Jake Fisher, fans knew they were getting an athletic and versatile offensive lineman who was capable of playing multiple spots along the line. He primarily played tackle in college, and will likely continue at this position in the future. At the present time though, Cincinnati is using Fisher as both a swing tackle and a guard. It’s this versatility that likely convinced the Bengals to draft Fisher. He will ensure the line maintains its effectiveness if the injury bug decides to strike the group, and regardless of where it does. But with a creative offensive coordinator like Hue Jackson running the offense, anything is possible, and it seems Jake Fisher’s impact could go beyond acting as a versatile reserve lineman.
According to Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson, the Bengals have been using Fisher in an “extra tight end” role when the offensive utilizes six offensive linemen.
"“Despite struggling at times working through a huge learning curve with the Bengals system, Fisher has kept his head up and drew raves when he caught two balls as the extra tight end, including a nifty spin move on nine-year safety Reggie Nelson.”"
Fisher has been lauded by coaches and has even been given extra responsibilities that typically aren’t given to rookies, yet he’s even made an impression on one of the team’s leaders. Veteran tackle and captain Andrew Whitworth feels that Jake Fisher could make an impact in the coming season in this role.
"“He’s a guy that’s got a lot of ability. He’s just got to continue to focus in and learn and adapt to the game. He’s going to be a guy that’s got a skill set that you can use. He could be that big tight end for us. It’s definitely a weapon.”"
As offensive line coach Paul Alexander points out, Jake Fisher has a significant learning curve ahead of him. This means it’ll likely take some time before he’s ready to get on the field and act as a starting offensive lineman. Barring injury, Fisher won’t have to do so in 2015. But getting him onto the field to gain experience is still a great idea and finding a role for him is being prioritized.
If Fisher proves to be an effective “extra tight end,” it would allow him to get onto the field and gain some valuable experience. It would also allow him to gain some confidence by producing for the offense. His presence would allow the offense to continue utilizing their power running system to turn red zone appearances into touchdowns. Yet, if he can prove to be an effective pass catcher, then opposing defenses would have to think twice before leaning into Fisher in order to gain an advantage off the snap.
Jake Fisher has a long road ahead of him to become a future starter for the Bengals, but fans should look forward to seeing him on the field a handful of times in 2015. Soon we’ll find out what kind of magic Hue Jackson can work with his newest offensive lineman.