Amazon Prime Day NFL Deals: One gift for fans of each NFL team

The holidays have come early for NFL fans thanks to Amazon Prime’s Early Access Sale.

While Prime Day has come and gone for 2022, Amazon is giving Prime members another reason to be thankful this holiday season.

Amazon Prime Early Access Sale is a two-day event exclusive to Prime subscribers, who can start their holiday shopping with thousands of exclusive discounts.

We know just how challenging it can be to shop for the NFL fan in your life, so we put together a list to ensure no fan gets forgotten this year.

Looking for some team apparel? Got it. Big tailgater? No problem. Want a Halloween costume that shows your fandom? We got you covered.

If you see something you like, but it’s featured in your rival’s colors, don’t worry. Almost all of the items below can be found sporting the colors of your favorite NFL team.

 

How Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ new-look offense took the Cardinals apart

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick goes to the film to diagnose how Patrick Mahomes was able to adjust to the Cardinals’ blitzes and coverages.

These two truths can co-exist. The Chiefs thrived on Tyreek Hill’s freak athleticism during scramble drills, and Patrick Mahomes can extend plays and navigate through a defense when under pressure.

We thought after the last few years watching Mahomes slice through defenses when facing a blitz, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph wouldn’t rely on it to get his defense out on top on Sunday. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Even Next Gen Stats let us know that throughout Mahomes career, he has a +206.1 passing EPA vs the blitz, since 2018.

Andy Reid after the game, when asked about Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph blitzing, and how well Mahomes does against the blitz: “I joke about this, but it’s true he brings everybody but the popcorn vendor. He’s going to bring it from all over the place, and you better be sharp. [Mahomes] was directing everybody to get them going in the right direction, then Pat doing the same thing. I thought they did a nice job with that. [Joseph] is one heck of a coordinator. He’s very aggressive.”

So, the question is, how did Mahomes adjust to whatever it was the Cardinals were trying to accomplish? Let’s go to the film!

Jaguars and Raiders players to watch in Thursday’s Hall of Fame game

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick gives us the players to watch for the Jaguars and Raiders in Thursday’s Hall of Fame game.

After six long months without football, the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars kick off the 2022 NFL preseason in Canton, Ohio with the Hall of Fame game, which takes place this Thursday, August 4th. The Raiders are honoring legends Cliff Branch and Richard Seymour, and the Jaguars have their first-ever Hall of Fame inductee in Tony Boselli.

Both teams had big offseason changes. The Jaguars are now led by former Super Bowl champion head coach Doug Pederson. The Raiders have new head coach Josh McDaniels who was under Bill Belichick as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

As expected, both teams will likely hold out their starters, but this gives the young players a chance to stand out and prove why they deserve a roster spot.

“It’s going to be exciting just to get the team on the field against another opponent obviously,” said Pederson. “And then for the first time for all of us with the coaches and new players and really the whole team. So, we’re looking forward to that.”

Both teams have rookies and empty roster spots that we will be keeping eye on.

Let’s first dive into a few players to watch in the 2022 preseason opener!

Why Josh Palmer is ready to jump up in the Chargers’ receiver room

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick dives into Josh Palmer’s All-22 to see why he should be the Chargers’ WR3.

There are a few young players around the league looking to make a jump in prominence and production in the second years of their NFL careers. One of those players is Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Josh Palmer. So far in minicamp, Palmer has lined up as the WR3 with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and he’s already turning some heads.

“He’s been much more confident,” quarterback Justin Herbert has said of Palmer. “He’s a guy that came in really early last year and he picked up the offense pretty easily. But this year it’s a different Josh Palmer out there. He knows exactly where he’s going. We throw a bunch after practice. I feel comfortable with him.”

Selected in the third round of the 2021 draft out of Tennessee, Palmer is a 6-foot-2 possession receiver who can get early separation with his route running, and he can also grab contested balls over the top. Last year, Palmer ended the season with 33 receptions for 353 yards and four touchdowns: while only playing a total of 38% of the offense’s total snaps.

Let’s go to the film to see why Palmer should be the third option in the Chargers’ offense!

How Mecole Hardman benefits in the Chiefs’ new Tyreek-less offense

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick goes to the film to see how Mecole Hardman can fill Tyreek Hill’s role in the Chiefs’ offense.

As we all are aware, the Kansas City Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. The Chiefs will have a more balanced offense as Patrick Mahomes will be forced to spread the ball around, and what this means for receiver Mecole Hardman, is that Hardman finally gets his chance to shine.

Over the last two years, Hardman has come in as a fill-in for Hill, as they ran similar routes, or he came in as a fourth option alongside Hill, using his 4.33 speed to get vertical, opening the field for his teammates.

Mahomes said this when asked about Hardman, “He made a lot of big plays in big moments, especially at the end of last season. So, for me it’s for him to just continue to be himself. He doesn’t have to be Tyreek Hill; he has to be Mecole Hardman… He’s made a Pro Bowl already and I think he can keep getting better and better. Everybody puts out there he’s got to replace Tyreek. I think he can be his own player…”

Let’s dive into the film to see how Hardman is going to bring his versatility into the starting Chiefs offense!

Rookie TE Greg Dulcich could be the missing piece in the Broncos’ offense

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick goes to the film to see how Greg Dulcich can replace Noah Fant and become TE1 for the Broncos.

The Denver Broncos are quickly being labeled as a top contender in the AFC West after the addition quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson’s current weapons include Javonte Williams out of the backfield, Jerry Jeudy as the ‘X’ receiver, and Cortland Sutton and Tim Patrick lining up at the boundary.

Right now, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam is the only viable starter, but with his injury history, rookie Greg Dulcich, selected with the 80th overall pick in the third round out of UCLA, should have an opportunity to shine in training camp.

“When you have a guy [like Dulcich] that can stretch the field like he can, it’s really exciting,” said new head coach Nathaniel Hackett during rookie minicamp. “From all of the stuff — it’s not just the intermediate stuff — but the [impact he makes] truly down the field. At the same time, the ability to strain and block in the run game. I think he showed a lot of stuff [in the pre-draft process].”

Since Dulcich seems to have all the tools to be the tight end of the future. Let’s go to the film to see how Dulcich can be productive in the Broncos’ offense!

Film Study: Who’s responsible for the Chargers’ limited passing game?

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick breaks down the film to examine the ups-and-downs of Herbert and the Chargers passing offense.

The opening question in my latest film study was: Has the NFL figured out what Chargers quarterback and defending Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert can do, and are they countering him perfectly to limit what the passing game can do, or are the laminations of the passing schemes the real issue?

As with most complicated questions, there’s a little bit of everything in the answer.

In Herbert’s second year, he leads the NFL in QBR rating, he’s second in passing yards, third in passes completed, fifth in passing touchdowns, and he has five total game-winning drives this season.

So, in reality, defensive coaches have done their best to slow him down, but Herbert is still preforming at a high level.

The inconsistences from week-to-week come from the Chargers as a whole. Their defense haven’t been able to stop teams from getting into the end zone. In Week 11, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Herbert had to put up 41 points to win by only four. When we take a look at the offense, Herbert is relied on heavily to create plays outside the pocket while evading pressure.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s game plan is changing week to week based on the defenses, but overall the common theme in order to stop the Chargers, is to force them to become a short, quick passing offense.

When we look at the big plays, according to Sports Info Solutions, on throws of 20 or more air yards, Herbert has 23 attempts against zone coverage, and only six attempts when his receivers are facing man coverage.

This stat really says a lot about the Chargers. When they see man coverage, they aren’t going deep. Defenses would rather sit back, play prevent and force the Charges to sustain long drives in order to win games. Some teams have done it well, others haven’t.

In week 8, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Keenan Allen is one-on-one against Daruis Slay who is in man coverage, with only one safety deep. That safety must make a choice on which cornerback to help. Allen runs such a great route, that even though the safety decides to help out Slay, Allen still gets over the top.

Keenan Allen is one of the best route-runners in the NFL. Mike Williams and Herbert in the beginning of the year were considered one of the best duos in the game. Defenses have decided that if they are going to run man coverage, run it with two-safeties high, and force Herbert to make throws underneath.

In the clip below, the Patriots are in Cover 2-Man on second-down, leaving the only guy with separation is the running-back.

The Chargers are at the top of the NFL when it comes to team drops. When a high-flying offense is forced to run short-quick plays against man coverage, the communication and rapport have to be fluid.

Despite the mishaps against man coverage, there is always a chance that Herbert can find one of his receivers in single coverage over the top, changing the game in an instant.

So in light of that possibility, what defenses are doing to prevent the big-plays, they are running zone coverage.

This is why the 20+ yard passing plays, are against zone. Right now, this is where Herbert is at his best. Running receiver concepts, throwing guys open.

Even when defenses has disguised their look, Herbert is still able to get the ball down field. In the clip below, the defense disguises a single safety, then at the snap, he falls back. Herbert notices this and makes a great throw to the open spot.

What the Patriots were able to do to stop Herbert was blitz on second down, drop into man coverage and force Herbert to hold onto the ball, or force throws.

When the Patriots defense blitz from one side, they are replacing that defender with a defensive lineman where typically that part of the field would be empty.

When forcing Herbert to hold onto the ball for a little longer and go through his reads, while bringing pressure; mistakes are bound to happen.

Then the Broncos took this method and perfected it.

They forced third-and-longs, then ran zone-match. Herbert was forced to go through his reads and instead of making the tougher throw to the middle of the field, he forced it because he saw one-on-one on the outside.

NFL defensive coordinators realize that the sophomore slump comes with pressure; so bringing extra guys on second-down with man coverage in the secondary, has forced Herbert to hold onto the ball a bit longer than he would like, resulting in hurries or forced throws. This is why we are seeing Herbert use his legs a bit more.

On third down, they are allowing the underneath throws or forcing Herbert thread the needle for any completions deeper down field.  Against the Patriots the Chargers converted on 33% of their third-downs, versus the Vikings 42% and Broncos 50%.

With his defense giving up points early, Herbert is feeling the pressure to make big plays. He must remain patient and keep his eyes down field in order to win, it wont be the run game, or his defense.

Film study: Why is the Chiefs’ defense an abject disaster?

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick breaks down the film to determine what is ailing the once-proud Chiefs defense.

The Kansas City Chiefs have reached back-to-back Super Bowls and began the season as the odds-on favorite to make it three in a row.

That’s understandable, considering all the firepower the Chiefs bring to the table offensively with talents such as Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

However, most observers didn’t expect to see the Chiefs’ steep regression on the defensive side of the ball this season.

The Chiefs defense has allowed at least 29 points in all five games. They have one of the worst run defenses in the league, allowing an average of 141 yards per game — which ranks 29th. When it comes to defensive pressure, the Chiefs have the fewest sacks in the NFL with seven, and they’re ranked last in the league in pass rush by Pro Football Focus.

The Chiefs simply aren’t tackling well, and safety Daniel Sorensen leads the league in missed tackles with eight. Kansas City is allowing averages of 7.1 yards per play and 3.3 points per drive. They’re allowing the opposition to score a touchdown on 41.7% of drives.

The rushing defense in particular has struggled, which has led to linebackers overplaying the run in play-action. Along with a non-existent pass rush, that creates a lot of problems.

Let’s examine each of these aspects.

In the run game, the Chiefs allowed eight touchdowns between the tackles, according to Sports Info Solutions, and only the Seahawks and Eagles allowed more rushing yards between the tackles through Week 4. The move of defensive tackle Chris Jones to the outside may account for part of this problem as teams are targeting the A gap more.

Last Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills, on a second-down play, the Chiefs brought pressure to what they thought was a passing play. But the call was a draw run. Instead of penetrating the gap and getting a tackle for loss, Sorensen was caught flat-footed and didn’t wrap up.

Since the Chiefs’ defense was honoring the run so much, the zone-read allowed Bills quarterback Josh Allen to rush for 60 total yards just by reading the linebackers.

With the number of athletic quarterbacks in the NFL, the Chiefs can’t afford to keep overcommitting to the run. Otherwise, these issues will continue to happen week after week.

Play-action is the next area in which the Chiefs defense is getting beaten. Once defenders realize the running back isn’t getting the handoff, Kansas City’s defense overcompensates and drops back too far into coverage — leaving the middle of the field wide open.

When it comes to bringing pressure, the Chiefs just aren’t getting the job done. Against the Bills, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo finally brought more pressure in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late.

The absence of pass rush wasn’t the only issue, though. A lack of innovation seems to be a problem as well, as the Chiefs weren’t even using stunts. In the clip below, they just run straight at the quarterback.

Allen had all day to throw. But what is especially concerning is that in the broadcast angle of the clip, the pass-rushers actually pull up and stop rushing completely, allowing Allen to find Stefon Diggs wide open downfield. All throughout the game, the Chiefs gave Allen a clean pocket.

Early in the game, the Chiefs needed a stop on third down (below). The defense called no stunts and failed to bring pressure, leaving the defense in man coverage to follow receivers around downfield.

Defenses rely on cohesiveness and the ability to bring pressure up front in order to help the secondary. Stunts from the defensive line and blitzes from the linebackers aren’t the only places where pressure can come from. In Week 4 against the Philadelphia Eagles, cornerback L’Jarius Sneed got a sack from a blitz. The question is: Why don’t they use it more?

The Chiefs lost two defensive starters from last season’s team in free agency, linebacker Damien Wilson and defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon, and then the injuries to Jones and Charvarious Ward also are having an impact.

When watching this team the past two weeks, there were more than a few snaps where defenders were communicating responsibilities as the quarterback snapped the ball. That being said, it’s difficult to run deceptions when players aren’t even sure of their assignments at the snap.

Tyrann Mathieu, the rare Chiefs defender playing at an above-average level right now, has expressed his frustration in some fairly epic on-field ways — specially when it came to Sorensen and some serious coverage busts.

Not what you want to see, and Mathieu doesn’t need to go quite that live in-game, but he was more eloquent about the defense’s issues after the Bills did what they did.

“You try your best to set a good example,” Mathieu said. “I feel like I can make more plays. Teams aren’t going to let me make certain plays but you have to take the bull by the horns sometimes. For me it is all about continuing to lead these guys the right way. I think my emotion, my spirit, it can go left or right. For me it is important for me to push these guys in a positive direction. I know we still have a good football team. We are struggling right now but, like I mentioned earlier, it’s a long season and I think we will be able to get it right.”

It’s still relatively early in the season. But as of right now, it seems unlikely that the Chiefs will find any impactful free agents off the street to help with depth. It doesn’t seem like the Chiefs are interested, anyway, as they brought in wide receiver Josh Gordon to help on offense instead of a cornerback or defensive tackle.

Still, the Chiefs can boost their chances on defense by bringing more pressure up front and finishing their tackles. But they have a long road ahead if they expect to get back to the Super Bowl.

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How rookie center Creed Humphrey can help Chiefs’ revamped offensive line

Chiefs rookie center Creed Humphrey could be a major part of the team’s revamped offensive line.

In Super Bowl LV, the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line had one of the worst performances in Super Bowl history. Patrick Mahomes was pressured on 29 of of his 56 dropbacks, which is a whopping 52 percent. That means one out of every two times he intended to throw the ball, there was a defender in his face; and to make it even worse, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles only blitzed six times! Kansas City had some injuries and also some optouts in the 2020 season but just to ensure Mahomes never has to go through that again, the team made significant moves this offseason to revamp their offensive line, and one of them was picking up one of the top Centers in the NFL draft, Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey.

Right now Kansas City has a plethora of stellar offensive lineman starting with a Pro Bowl Tackle in Orlando Brown Jr, All-Pro Guard Joe Thuney, guard Kyle Long, and right tackle Mike Remmers. One thing the Chiefs want is assurance that they have the right guys in the right places. One way to do that is to create competition. Austin Blythe was brought in on a one-year deal from the Rams right before Creed Humphrey fell into their lap in the second round of the draft. Everyone knows that competition brings the best out of players and every rookie needs a veteran to learn from. This Kansas City offensive line will have well rounded depth with all the veterans in the locker room, and that is exactly what Humphrey needs.

Humphrey has the skills to be an All-Pro Center with the Chiefs. One of his best attributes is getting out in space. Oklahoma would pull him out of the line, just to block for his quarterback on roll-outs: 

Not only does Humphrey have the capability to pull when needed, he also has the tenacity the Chiefs need out in space. We can absolutely see Mahomes rolling out as Humphrey clears the field for him.

When Humphrey has to be the anchor on the offensive line, he can pick up the blitz and more importantly, a stunt; end over guards and even ends over tackles.

In the run-game, not only does he create lanes inside the A gap, he looks like he absolutely loves downhill zone run blocking.

Inside Zone Run game is simple for the offensive lineman — you basically just block the guy inside your play-side gap, and once that guy is out of the play, you go move upfield after the next guy.

Kansas City will love how Humphrey’s head is always on a swivel, and he’s always looking for the next guy to knock down. He commanded his O-line with Oklahoma by calling out protections, and telling teammates which defenders to pick up at the line of scrimmage.

One thing is for certain: If Humphrey gets out in space, watch for his pancake count at the end of the year!

10 facts about Broncos No. 9 overall draft pick CB Patrick Surtain

The Denver Broncos selected Patrick Surtain from Alabama No. 9 overall in the 2021 NFL draft. Here are 10 facts surrounding the pick.

The Denver Broncos decided they have solutions at quarterback after trading for Teddy Bridgewater and standing behind 2019 second-rounder Drew Lock.

Why not find a shutdown cornerback with their No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft?

The Broncos selected Patrick Surtain from Alabama. Here are 10 facts surrounding their selection of the Crimson Tide product.