The NFL has gone high-tech. New for the 2015 season, every player has a tracker embedded in his shoulder pads that collects data like velocity, distance traveled and proximity to opposing players. Zebra Technologies is the company behind the tech, and the insights they provide are letting fans see the game in a whole new light.
The Divisional round produced some incredibly impressive data, as eight teams from around the country clashed with the hopes of reaching their respective conference championships. Here are the the craziest next-gen stats from those games, as well as drills you can use to help you improve your performance.
1. Tommy Gun
A fearsome Kansas City Chiefs defense, which ranked fourth in sacks during the regular season, wasn't able to bother Tom Brady, recording zero sacks and allowing him to pile up 302 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady's lightning-quick release played a huge role in keeping him upright. His average time from snap to throw was just 4.25 seconds. He also averaged 1.24 yards of lateral movement per pass attempt, further illustrating how he orchestrated the offense by dissecting the Chiefs with quick passes from the pocket.
On the other hand, Alex Smith's average time from snap to throw was 5.81 seconds, and he averaged 3.51 yards of lateral movement per pass attempt. Brady is not mobile and his arm isn't as strong as it used to be, but he's still surgical at short-range and his fast release makes him impervious to pressure. It will be interesting to see if the Broncos' defense figures out a way to make Brady hold onto the ball long enough to rack up some sacks.
2. Run, Fitz, Run
The NFC Divisional Round match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and the Green Bay Packers will go down as one of the best playoff games in NFL history. Despite Aaron Rodgers' Hail Mary heroics, the Arizona Cardinals and veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald emerged victorious. Fitz came out swinging on the first play of overtime, turning a short completion into a 75-yard gain
Fitzgerald traveled a total of 113.31 yards on the play, but his top speed was only 17.94 mph, the slowest top speed on a play 58 yards or longer by a receiver this season. For comparison, Carson Palmer hit 18.88mph on a rushing touchdown in Week 12. Although Fitz's foot speed isn't what it used to be, he's still an excellent route-runner and a big, physical target.
3. Stewart Finds an Extra Gear
Jonathan Stewart started Carolina's matchup against Seattle with a bang, taking the first play from scrimmage 59 yards and electrifying the home crowd.
Stewart hit 20.21mph on the play, his top speed of the season and an impressive number for a big back. It wasn't quite fast enough to pull away from Richard Sherman for the touchdown, but Stewart finished the game with two TDs and a victory. When he faces the Arizona Cardinals' big, physical front line, will Stewart have a chance to burst into the open field again? We shall see.
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