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Broncos Mailbag: Why was Brandon McManus worth keeping over Matt Prater

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  • Broncos Mailbag: Why was Brandon McManus worth keeping over Matt Prater

    By Mike Klis

    So Matt Prater. I understand the money. I understand the lack of trust following a suspension. What I don't understand is that he has never missed a clutch field goal and kicked a 64-yarder just last year. Are the fans missing something? Did he have a bad training camp? What made him not worth the money?

    —Carl R, Minneapolis

    Carl: There was concern that Matt Prater was inconsistent during the preseason. The suspension was hanging over his head. He learned of his suspension the day before the Broncos' third preseason game against Houston and he had a rough go.

    And the Broncos do like Brandon McManus. He has a strong leg and outstanding character. There remains the question as to whether he will be a consistent field-goal kicker on Sundays.

    But no one should think McManus will be as good as Prater was in 2013. It's impossible. In fact, Prater, who worked out for the Detroit Lions on Tuesday afternoon, probably won't ever again have the season he had in 2013.

    All Prater did with his leg last year was record a league-leading 81 touchdowns, a league-leading .962 field-goal percentage (25 of 26) and a league-record 64-yard field goal in 18-degree weather.

    But Prater wasn't the NFL's best kicker in his first season. Or Year 2, 3 or 4. He started becoming the best in 2011 when he drove all those long, game-winning kicks to set off the Tebowing craze.

    It's not unrealistic, though, to expect McManus to perform as Prater did in, say, 2008, when he made 25 of 34 field goals. That year, Prater was better from 50-plus yards (5-of-6), than he was from 40 to 49 (5-of-11).

    Wouldn't it benefit the Broncos' running game to have (Peyton) Manning under center a bit more and give the running back a five-yard running start? I know Manning is best in the shot-gun, where he can read the defense and audible, but maybe more of a formation balance with him under center more of the time could help our running game.
    —Micah Pexa, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

    Micah: Yes, it would benefit the Broncos' running game if Manning lined up under center. But, it would not benefit the Broncos' offense overall.

    The Broncos didn't sign Manning in 2012 to bolster their running game. They were No. 1 in rushing in 2011, thanks to Tim Tebow. The Broncos decided after that season the best way to the Super Bowl was through the air.

    The Broncos don't run well in large part because they pass very well. Pass better than any other team, in fact. You can't be good at both. Not possible. The Broncos' best blockers — Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez — are best at pass protection. The team's top weapons — Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker — are pass catchers.

    This team is built around Manning, not Ronnie Hillman. I'm not saying running the ball isn't important. I'm saying it's not important to the Broncos.

    Mike, after the Super Bowl I had heard a few rumors that the Broncos were looking at a uniform/logo change in an effort to break the curse of the orange jerseys that has followed them in the Super Bowl (0-4 in the Super Bowl when wearing orange I believe). Is there anything truth to this?
    —Laton, Bismarck, N.D.

    Laton: Not true. Orange rules. It is true, Laton, that counting the Broncos' Orange Crush season of 1977, the Broncos are 0-4 wearing orange in the Super Bowl, losing 27-10 to Dallas in XII, 42-10 to Washington in XXII, 55-10 to San Francisco in XXIV and 43-8 to Seattle in XLVIII.

    That's a combined 167-38 pulverizing of all those oranges, an average score of 42-10. You, Laton, may want to call it the Orange Curse. (No wait! I got a million of 'em!)

    If the Broncos reach the Super Bowl this season, they'll wear white uniforms as the road team. The Broncos are 1-1 in Super Bowl whites, losing to the New York Giants, 39-20 in XXI and defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 34-19 in XXXIII.

    But no color change, Laton. Orange identifies the Broncos. The Green Bay Packers didn't dump green during their mostly horrific run from 1968-88. Thank goodness, because the Packer green and 49ers' red are the best home jerseys in the NFL.

    The Broncos did go to predominantly dark blue from 1997-2011, but they acknowledge one reason they switched back to orange in 2012 was in part because of overwhelming support to make the move following a Woody Paige column in The Denver Post. Woody's predominant color, by the way, is distinguished gray. Which also happens to me my favorite hue.

    Mike, I know it may be premature, but what does the head coaching future look like for the team? I'm in no hurry to oust John Fox, but do they see his successor in Adam Gase or (Jack) Del Rio? Which of our two coordinators are more likely to walk, and who might be retained?
    —Mike, Rochester, N.Y.

    Mike: Fox just received a contract through the 2016 season, which is when Peyton Manning's contract expires. I don't think that's a coincidence. When Manning goes (if he goes — don't rule out a contract extension) it will be time for Broncos' chiefs Joe Ellis and John Elway to reassess everybody and everything within the organization.

    If all goes well, Fox sails off from Marco Island on his boat after the 2016 season with one or two Super Bowl rings on his fingers, and Gase and Del Rio are already in their second or third seasons as head coach of other NFL teams.

    Gase and Del Rio are both represented by Bob LaMonte, who is the NFL's head-coaching power broker. LaMonte also represents Fox and Broncos director of pro personnel Tom Heckert.

    As it stands now, Gase and Del Rio are on the short list of head-coaching candidates for the 2015 season.

    Longtime Broncos fan. Wonder why new rookie Cody Latimer has been inactive. He looked solid in preseason and threw that vicious block on the 49ers' safety. Seems the Broncos could use some of Latimer's physicality and leaping ability. Having (Isaiah) Burse return punts and take a WR spot seems like a waste. Give that to (Andre) Caldwell and get Latimer on the field. A great blocking WR can do wonders for the run game.
    —Big Nick, Chicago

    Big Nick: I'm a little baffled myself as to why it takes so many receivers at least one full season to become an NFL player.

    Eric Decker was a third-round pick and he had six catches in his rookie season of 2010. Demaryius Thomas was a first-round pick and he had 22 catches as a rookie, 32 in his second year. Wes Welker had zero catches as a rookie in 2004. Julius Thomas had one catch as a rookie in 2011.

    Where have you gone, Marcus Nash and Darius Watts?

    The best rookie receiver I've seen was Randy Moss in 1998. But that was about running fly routes and outjumping corners for the ball.

    In Latimer's case, he came from an Indiana University program that ran the spread offense — and there is very little about the spread that translates to an NFL offense. The Broncos' system demands precise running and reading of defenses on the fly.

    Latimer is getting close, though. He got a few more reps and special-teams participation last week. Expect him to be the Broncos' No. 3 receiver next year.

  • #2
    All Prater did with his leg last year was record a league-leading 81 touchdowns
    he must mean touchbacks rofl
    The beatings will continue until morale improves....


    • #3
      Originally posted by dizzolve
      he must mean touchbacks rofl
      Mmmm that Prater was special, he could kick a mean field goal, but when it came to kicking touchdowns there was none better.

      Hahaha! I looked, he fixed it. I was wondering if I had copied and pasted it wrong.