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 3 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 spreadsheet and the workouts behind their performance.
All data courtesy of NFL.com.
OBJ's Speed and Quick Feet Made for a Lethal Fake
Odell Beckham Jr. is explosive. His speed makes him a home run threat on any given play, and his quick feet and precise cuts help him run excellent routes. In the Giants' Week 3 win over the Redskins, OBJ showed how lethal he can be with just a single step.
Before the snap, the cornerback is already giving Beckham quite a bit of cushion. When the cornerback turns his back and begins backpedaling, Beckham explodes off the line and accelerates toward him. He slows down about 10 yards into the route, causing the defender to hesitate and wait for him to make a move. OBJ then gives a sudden jab step to the outside, and the CB reacts that way. In that split second, Beckham has all the space he needs; he turns on the jets and runs toward the goalposts, reaching an impressive top speed of 19.4 mph. Quarterback Eli Manning underthrows the pass slightly, but since the defender is now playing catch-up and has his back turned, OBJ can elevate and snatch the ball for a touchdown.
Beckham develops the quick feet he displayed on this touchdown through countless repetitions on the speed ladder.
Sammy Watkins Might be the Fastest Player in the NFL
Although Sammy Watkins had only one catch in the Bills' Week 3 win over the Dolphins, he still showcased his elite athleticism.
Facing a Dolphins cornerback playing him tight on the line, Watkins ran a streak route to great success. It all started with some fancy footwork. On the snap, Watkins begins running toward the corner's outside shoulder. Convinced that Watkins is looking for an outside release, the corner momentarily slows down and begins to move that way. As soon as he takes a step toward the sideline, Watkins darts back inside and turns on the burners. Watkins reaches a blazing-fast speed of 21.52 mph—the fastest foot speed recorded by an offensive player in Week 3—before hauling in a perfectly placed pass from quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The corner actually does a great job keeping up with Watkins, but when you're guarding a receiver that fast, and the quarterback makes a throw that pretty, there isn't much you can do.
A secret to Watkins' game-breaking speed is his core strength. It's something he works on regularly with exercises like Physioball Planks.
Cam Newton Made the Saints Pay for their Lax Coverage
The Panthers pulled out a big Week 3 victory over the Saints, and the duo of Greg Olsen and Cam Newton had a lot to do with it. The pair hooked up for two touchdowns, and both had stellar overall games.
Olsen consistently found soft spots in the Saints' coverage, and Newton delivered accurate, on-time passes to take advantage. Olsen's first touchdown reception came on an in-route that sliced through the Saints defensive backfield. He starts off with a clean inside release before running vertically upfield about 10 yards. He then cuts sharply inward, finding an area of space between the linebackers and safeties. It looks like the Saints were using a scheme that had linebacker Stephone Anthony in man coverage on Olsen. However, Anthony gave him too much of a cushion—3.3 yards, to be exact—and Newton uncorked a nice pass for 6.
It was a great route by Olsen and a great pass by Newton into a quickly closing window. A big part of accurate passing is core and lower-body strength—without them, your passes won't have much zip. Newton builds those skills with exercises like Sled Pulls.
RELATED: Cam Newton's Workout
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