ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Whether it’s really a money matter or not, the bottom line is since Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus signed his new contract before the season began, he has not been nearly as reliable as he was before he put his name on that bottom line.
McManus missed a 35-yard field goal in Sunday night’s 23-10 loss to the New York Giants and had a 53-yard attempt blocked later in the game. And while he was just another item on a rather long list of things that went wrong in the Broncos' dismal prime-time effort, McManus has missed five kicks in five games.
Or to put it another way, he’s already missed as many field goal attempts as he did in the 2015 Super Bowl season when he was 30-of-35 and then 10-of-10 in the playoffs. And this most recent fit of inaccuracy has come in the weeks following his three-year, $11.254 million deal that put him among the league’s highest-paid kickers.
Most troubling, other than the momentum swings the misses have often caused, is the fact McManus has missed two kicks 35 yards or shorter and that all five of his misses have come at home, where the local altitude is usually kicker-friendly. After Sunday night’s issues, Broncos coach Vance Joseph continued to express his support.
“He’s our guy," Joseph said. “He missed a short one. He got one blocked and he made one for us. Obviously that’s been an issue. The first quarter (of the season), he missed three. He basically missed two (Sunday). We’ll address it with him, but sitting here right now, he’s our guy.”
McManus has said he doesn’t “have to prove anything" and that the contract has had no bearing on his work in this season’s first six weeks. But he has the same holder (punter Riley Dixon) he had last season and the same long-snapper (Casey Kreiter) he had for most of last season.
McManus has pointed to his work in practices, work that has included a made 70-yard attempt with a snap and a hold, and in pregame drills as a points of optimism. But for a team that has struggled to finish out drives with touchdowns on offense of late, missed field goals only make things worse as it leaves an offense that has struggled to score empty-handed.
“Kicking is a rhythm thing but our rhythm isn’t off," McManus said. “It’s still very fluid in what we do. Like I said, I haven’t missed a kick in practice or warm-ups this season. It’s just the games, and right now in the games, I stink."
Sunday night, the previously winless Giants, who were double-digit underdogs, took their first possession of the game 69 yards in 13 plays for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. Late in the first quarter, as they were still trying to snag any momentum, the Broncos drove to the Giants’ 16-yard line.
They had McManus go out for a 35-yard attempt that would have tied the game just before the end of the quarter, but he snapped it wide right. His 53-yard attempt was blocked in the third quarter, when the Broncos trailed 20-3.
“You just can’t miss a field goal like that and set the tone for the game," McManus said. “It hurts a lot of people to have a good drive like that, get down the field and then you miss a short one. Right now, I’ve just got to get it going in the games."