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.
Week 15 produced more impressive data, and many of the players behind the numbers were STACK athletes. Let's take a look at who popped off the spreadsheet and tell you about the workouts behind their performance.
All data courtesy of NFL.com
1. Julius Peppers Will Never Stop Getting Sacks
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has been having a great season, but the Green Bay Packers defense was all over him in Week 15. Carr was sacked three times and threw two interceptions in what was probably his worst game of 2015. Packers linebacker Julius Peppers did a lot of the damage, sacking Carr 2 1/2 times and applying constant pressure. Peppers and Co. often forced Carr out of the pocket, as he averaged 14.35 yards per drop back in Week 15—well above his season average of 10.68.
Even at 35 years old, Peppers is still a human sack machine. He has recorded at least seven sacks in eight consecutive seasons, an amazing feat for a player his age. He might be the only man on earth who can say he's sacked both Tim Couch and Teddy Bridgewater. Peppers' pass-rushing ability has a lot to do with his superior agility, balance and core strength.
2. Antonio Brown Burned Chris Harris
Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris is one of the very best defensive players in the NFL. The two-time Pro Bowler has locked down many premier wideouts, but that certainly wasn't the case in Week 15. Antonio Brown absolutely shredded Harris, burning his coverage for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Harris ended the game with a -7.0 grade from Pro Football Focus, the lowest rating in his career. He hadn't received a grade below -1.0 since Week 12 of the 2013 season. Harris is an elite corner, but Brown is in another dimension right now. His routes are razor sharp, his hands are like glue and his speed is a game-changer. Brown builds his ridiculous footwork and full-body strength with TRX and Pilates workouts.
3. Darren McFadden is Thriving in Dallas
After an up-and-down seven-year stint in Oakland, Darren McFadden signed with the Dallas Cowboys, generating little buzz. Most analysts wrote him off as over-the-hill, citing the fact he was coming off three straight seasons in which he averaged under 3.5 yards per carry. But McFadden's production in Dallas is proving the doubters wrong, and he's currently on pace to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time since 2010. He had another solid outing in Week 15, notching 100 yards rushing on just 16 carries. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his performance was the fact he hit 21.27 mph on a 33-yard run, the fourth-highest speed of any ball carrier in Week 15.
Although he's only 28 years old, McFadden has already had a stellar career. During his time as a Raider, he went from being labeled a bust to being hailed as a star and then back to being a bust again. But with a fresh start behind a good offensive line in Dallas, McFadden is showing he still has serious skills.
A big part of McFadden's speed can be attributed to proper running mechanics and lower-body strength, things he learned during his time training at the Michael Johnson Performance Center.
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