For the 2nd chapter of the “Unsung Heroes” series, I picked one of the true constants up to this point in the season, kicker Brandon McManus. Fresh off of his game winning 34 yard field goal against the Cleveland Browns, McManus is currently in the midst of his “told I can play” 2015 campaign.
Here’s some stats on the 2nd year Bronco
Name: Brandon McManus
Size: 6’3, 201 lbs
Went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft (Originally signed with the Colts)
2015 Stats: 94.1 kicking percentage (16/17 field goals made). Longest was for 57 yards.
Career Stats: 83.3 kicking percentage (25/30 field goals made). 57 yards is longest career field goal.
The Story: McManus has certainly earned his “hero” status after making nearly all of his field goals this season, but
Nov 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) kicks a field goal attempt in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Dolphins 39-36 Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
that may not be the biggest thing that McManus has accomplished up to this point. When McManus first came to the Broncos via a trade from the New York Giants in the 2014 training camp, his acquisition was met with little fanfare.
The move was seen as a bit of a head scratcher, as the Broncos had arguably the most consistent leg in the league in Matt Prater. The original intention of the acquisition was to have a place kicker that the team could use while Prater was serving a four game suspension to start the 2014 season. That’s all that was expected of McManus. Nothing more, nothing less. The most impressive thing about McManus’ rise to NFL attention was the adversity he had to go through in order to grab hold of the kicking duties for the Broncos.
After completing a shaky 9 of 13 field goals to start the 2014 season, McManus was released in favor for veteran place kicker Connor Barth. To add insult to injury, Barth went on to finish the 2014 season with 93.8% of his kicks made and tied the Broncos record of having made five field goals in a game twice. McManus came back to the Broncos via the practice squad and eventually, back onto the active roster as the kickoff specialist. For McManus, this was only the beginning.
Throughout this years’ training camp, the Broncos had 5 specialists competing for the two jobs for the regular season. Aside from Barth, McManus faced competition from Youtube sensation Karl Schmitz and punter Spencer Lanning for kick-off duties. Despite the competition and adversity, McManus was able to find consistency in his game and not only win the job as kick off specialist, but was able to de-thrown Barth for the place kicking position. The common excuse for McManus winning the kicking job over Barth was simply his leg strength and the ability to do both place kicking and kick off duties. Whatever the reason may be, the decision was one that has handsomely rewarded the Broncos up to this point in the season.
Through six games of the 2015 season, McManus has a 94.1 kicking percentage and is one of the top players on the roster when it comes to scoring. For a team that has great offensive minds, it’s amazing to see a kicker as one of the leaders in the scoring department. In a season where the offense has been spinning its figurative wheels, McManus’ consistency has taken a greater importance to this team. Simply put, our team owes a lot to McManus and his stellar production so far this season.
McManus is a great story not only for his recent production, but for the fact that it is indicative of how the current front office and coaching staff values development of its players. McManus was not seen as a permanent replacement to Matt Prater when he arrived in the Mile High city, but his ability to develop and the Broncos trust in his natural skill set have allowed him the opportunity to cement the kicking job here in Denver. Whether he is the long term answer at the position remains to be seen, but in the mean time, it’s great to see an unheralded player develop into a major factor for this 6-0 team.