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 2 produced some incredibly impressive data, and many of the players behind the numbers were STACK athletes. Let’s take a look at who popped off the stat sheets and the workouts behind their performance.
All data courtesy of NFL.com.
1. Odell Beckham Jr.’s Speed and Footwork was an X-Factor
Odell Beckham Jr. had a gigantic game against the Falcons, hauling in seven catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. A big chunk of those yards came in the second quarter on a 67-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
On the play, OBJ ran a simple “In” route, caught a pass from Eli Manning at midfield and darted into a small window of space between two Falcons defensive players. Then he turned on the burners to reach a top speed of 21.70 mph—the second highest speed reached by a ball carrier in Week 2. The score was the result of pure speed and precise footwork, skills that OBJ hones by performing receiving drills with a speed ladder.
RELATED: Odell Beckham Jr.’s Unbelievable One-Handed Catches
2. Charles Woodson Ran a Mile with a Dislocated Shoulder
Despite tremendous adversity, Charles Woodson played a pivotal role in the Oakland Raiders’ Week 2 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. In Week 1, Woodson dislocated his shoulder, an injury that often means missing at least a couple of games—especially for a player at a position like cornerback.
But the 38-year-old veteran refused to stay on the sidelines, playing an amazing 81 of 82 defensive snaps against the Ravens. And it’s not like he was just standing around out there—Woodson was working. He covered a total distance of 1,736 yards, nearly a mile. Only one player—Woodson’s teammate T.J. Carrie—ran further in Week 2. How did Woodson pull it off? His workouts with trainer Danny Arnold, which are designed to mimic the pace and intensity of a full football game, probably had a lot to do with it.
3. Sammy Watkins Burned Press Coverage with Elite Acceleration
Sammy Watkins caught a big touchdown pass in Week 2, burning Patriots defensive back Bradley Fletcher for six. The key to the play was Watkins’ superior acceleration.
Fletcher lined up in press coverage on Watkins. On the snap, Watkins gave him a quick head fake outside before ducking back in. Thanks to his awesome acceleration, Watkins reached a speed of 13.7 mph just 6 yards into the route. By then, he had the separation he needed to stack on top of Fletcher and turn on the jets. He attained a top speed of 21.25 mph on the play and hauled in a nice throw by Tyrod Taylor for the touchdown.
Watkins made it look easy, but his amazing acceleration and speed are the result of a dedication to training. His workouts include exercises like Sled Pulls, Barbell Box Lunges and Depth Drop Jumps to strengthen his lower-body and build fast-twitch muscle fiber.
RELATED: The Sammy Watkins Speed Workout
4. Andy Dalton Showed Off Pin-Point Accuracy
Bengals QB Andy Dalton had a nice Week 2 performance against the Chargers, slinging three touchdown passes en route to a 24-19 victory. Dalton occasionally catches flack for his decision making, but there’s absolutely no denying that when he’s locked in, he’s a very good quarterback. On the game’s opening drive, he made a tremendous throw to A.J. Green for a 16-yard touchdown.
Closely guarded by cornerback Brandon Flowers, Green never had more than 1.5 yards of separation on the play. But Dalton took advantage of Green’s height and put the ball where only he could get it. The throw was on the money and Green snagged it for 6. Dalton’s accuracy is the result of a sport-specific training approach that emphasizes improving his movements and skills on the field.
RELATED: Path to the Pros: Andy Dalton
5. Ryan Tannehill is Faster than you Might Think
Ryan Tannehill has had a strong start to the 2015 season, accumulating a 101.7 passer rating over his first two games. Last week, he racked up 359 yards passing, but his feet might’ve been the most impressive aspect of his game.
Tannehill reached a max speed of 19.39 mph, fourth-highest for any quarterback in Week 2. He was a receiver during his early playing days at Texas A&M, so his athleticism isn’t surprising. But it’s something he consistently works on, and cone drills play a significant role in his off-season training.