The Denver Broncos Football Club, as it was known when it was formed in 1960, has a long history of quality kickers. Their cumulative average is 1,232/1,722 or 71.5%. (Profootballreference.com). Of the 19,154 points in Denver’s history (minus safeties), 5,812 are from kickers. Roughly, 30%.
Jason Elam has the most field goals in Broncos history, his 236 games played is more than numbers two (Jim Turner 130) and three (Rich Karlis 101) on the list combined. Elam connected on 80.6% of his attempts (395/490) which puts him ranked second in Broncos history in accuracy based on 100 minimum field goal attempts. He was the kicker for all but one game in the 1997 and 1998 Super Bowl runs. In 1998, Elam also tied the NFL record for longest field goal of 63 yards when he booted one from that length in a 37-24 win versus the Jacksonville Jaguars where he drilled three field goals on the day.
Statistically, Matt Prater is currently the most accurate kicker the Broncos have had, (minimum 100 attempts) at 82.9% (141/170); unfortunately, he had some off the field issues that made the front office question his dependability.
In 2013, Prater nailed a 64 yard field goal that set the NFL record for the longest field goal in league history. That came in a 51-28 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans. Contrary to rumors, this was not a game in which Peyton Manning was filming another Directv commercial at the expense of the state that he once called home.
Since being released, Prater has signed with Detroit and has connected on 86.0% of his field goal attempts (74/86) with a long of 59 yards.
Brandon McManus is currently the Broncos kicker. He’s seeking a multi-year deal, but worst case scenario he’ll play under the second round tender of $2,746,00 for 2017 (if an agreement isn’t reached by 6/15). Statistically he’s on par with Prater’s 82.9% (68/82), but he simply hasn’t attempted the same number of kicks. In the 2015 Super Bowl season, McManus earned his nickname of McMoney by hitting all 10 field goals he attempted in the post season and was a key contributor to many regular season games (more on that below). The longest field goal McManus has kicked was a 57-yarder he nailed in the 2015 opener versus Baltimore.
With that said, McManus has had to kick 37.1% of Denver’s points. During 2012-2014, Prater only needed, 26.3%. This is not only a testament to McManus, but also shows Kubiak’s RZ skills were crippling to the offenses.
McManus is a key contributor, and hopefully the two sides ink a deal within the next few days, or the process of retaining him will start again next offseason.
The one that got away:
In 2010, Matt Prater suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for four games. During that time frame, he was replaced by Steven Hauschka who connected on 6/7 of his Broncos attempts. Hauschaka went on to sign with the Seattle Seahawks and has connected on 88.8% of his Seahawk Field goals (175/197) with a long of 58. He has connected on 19/20 post season field goal attempts including a flawless 8/8 during their Super Bowl winning season of 2013. One can’t help to wonder if those numbers would have been even better had he remained in Denver.
In 1997, Jason Elam hit 26/38 field goal attempts. Ten games were decided within a 10 point spread. The Broncos were 7-3 during those contests. Out of those ten games there were only two where Elam didn’t add a field goal to the score board.
In the first two losses (Oakland L25-28 and Kansas City L22-24) he missed kicks that could have easily changed the outcome of those games, but he also hit multiple field goals in games that contributed to the wins.
Elam was the Broncos kicker for all but one game. He missed week 6 and rested his injured groin and hip flexor during the week 7 bye. Scott Bentley kicked during the week 6 game versus New England, a 34-13 win, and made two of his three attempts.
In the postseason, Elam was 2/2 in field goal attempts connecting on key kicks against both the Steelers in the AFCCG and the Packers in Super Bowl 32.
In 1998, Jason Elam, hit 23/28 field goals (82.1%) in the regular season and was 6/8 (75%) in the postseason with the two misses coming in the 34-19 Super Bowl win versus Atlanta. Thankfully, those misses weren’t costly.
Seven games during that season were within a 10 point spread and Elam was a key factor in the Broncos going 5-2 in those games, though he did miss two field goals against Kansas City (W35-31) and Seattle (W28-21) that could have made those games much more comfortable at the end.
In the two losses, Elam was perfect versus the Giants (16-20) by drilling all three field goals. He was 2/3 vs Miami (21-31).
In the AFCCG versus the Jets, the closest postseason game he was 3/3 on field goal attempts).
In 2015 regular season, Brandon McManus connected on 30/35 field goal attempts. He opened the season hitting all four attempts versus the Ravens (W19-13) in Week 1. He was 4/5 in the games vs. Cleveland (W26-23) and Oakland (L12-15).
The 2015 season had 14 games where the point spread was 10 points or less and without McManus performing at the level that he did, the Broncos would not have made the playoffs. He was a key contributor throughout the season.
During the four losses he only missed one field goal, which unfortunately was against Oakland (L12-15) which could have possibly forced overtime, but it goes like that sometimes.
During the playoffs, he was 10/10, connecting on all five kicks vs. the Steelers (W23-16), both kicks versus the Patriots in the AFCCG (W20-18) and all three versus the Panthers (W24-10) in Super Bowl 50.
If over the next 3 seasons he matches the results he produced over the first three seasons, he will be six kicks behind Prater and still have the same accuracy %. If he can increase his accuracy to 83%, he will likely surpass Prater as the most accurate kicker in Broncos history. At the moment, he is 18 attempts shy of 100. He’s a decade plus away from approaching Jason Elam’s status as the Broncos career record holder in both attempts and successful kicks.