How McManus improved his game

If you haven’t heard already, Brandon McManus won the starting kickoff and field goal job from Connor Barth. I wish Barth all the best in his career and as he is dead accurate in field goals and improved his power from last year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough compared to McManus. Many people will question whether McManus’ accuracy improved, and I can say it did based off mini-camp and preseason games. But, you don’t have to take my word for it.

It all starts with the jab-step. Taken from the Offical Broncos blog:

McManus believes that one reason for his improved accuracy this year is the elimination of a “jab-step” at the beginning of his run-up to the football on placekicks.

So, what is this “jab-step” exactly? Most kickers will use a two-step approach with a jab-step. A jab-step is the first step when the kicker starts running towards the ball with the non-kicking foot. Basically, they’ll take a starting step on the off-foot and use two full strides before knocking the ball in the air.

“When I hit that 70-yarder two weeks ago, it kind of gave me the opportunity to remove the jab step that I wanted to do when I was in New York. Then once I traded here, I didn’t want to switch it up in the middle of the season. It kind of gave me a chance to remove that because of how tall I am at 6-4. If I take that jab step, I could end up with a huge plant foot and could really spray the ball a lot, accuracy wise. I was able to remove that last year and kind of at the back end of the last season I was able to work on it in practice. I wasn’t getting the team reps, but I was able to work on my new stance and had a full offseason to work on kickoffs, just directional stuff. That’s what my focus is on this year.”

Usually, the jab-step works very well and is the most common method. McManus is 6’4″ and it causes him more difficulty than it would for a normal kicker. After McManus was brought back to the Broncos practice squad last year and eventually promoted to the team to handle kickoffs, he spent his time practicing on a full two-step approach. As a result, his hang-time is ~0.45 more than last year (~4.25 seconds) and the accuracy has remarkably improved.

I look forward to seeing if he can nail a 70-yard field goal in the regular season.

  • Leo Duke

    Interesting stuff. Hang time is cited less on kickoffs then punts, so it’s good to see you use that stat. Also, while it’s good to see him improve on his kicks, it cannot be understated that a 70 yarder in practice is different that a 70 yarder in a game. I’m more impressed with him hittin 19-19 from varying ranges in practice yesterday.

    • Rollston Frangopoulos

      The 70 yard practice kick wasn’t against a defense, so there was no one trying to block the ball. In order to get a 70 yard field goal you have to adjust the trajectory down a bit. This gives the defense a better chance to get a hand up and block it.

      • GrizzlyB

        That’s not true, the 70-yarder was a game rep. Granted, the defense wasn’t REALLY trying to block it, but they were at the line of scrimmage and had their hands up. Maybe if they’re driving into the line, they get close enough to block it anyway, but McManus definitely wasn’t kicking against nothing. (you can find footage of it somewhere on the Broncos’ website)

  • LH Almeida

    Nice stuff.

  • BlackKnigh

    Being that tall – he must get additional momentum swinging his longer leg into the ball. I like the hang time stuff. IMO – it is just s important on kickoffs as it is on punts – unless he always kicks out of the endzone.

    • Rollston Frangopoulos

      Which he does.

  • Carsonic

    Jab-step, huh? Who would have thought listening to Skrillex could affect your kicking abilities.

    • Jim_Jebow


  • SteveS

    I’m kind of wondering about trade-offs here. It’s said that his hang time on kick-offs is improved (greater), but surely, this has to come at least to some degree with a decrease in distance. If that’s the case, then presumably the number of balls that are kicked beyond the endline (can’t return it even if you’re insane) also decreases as opposed to kicking line drives where the number of endline touchbacks equals last year’s rate (or better). I wonder whether the more arching kicks goes hand-in-hand with better FG accuracy at the expense of touchbacks as it would be asking a lot for a kicker to adopt two pretty different strokes depending on circumstance. Any kickers out there with insight and opinions?

    • Leo Duke

      I’m not a kicker, but from a logic standpoint, if the defense can get up there better it really doesn’t matter. If he kicks it exactly to the plane of the endzone, so it’s returnable, the improvements in coverage as a result will still force the man down at the 20 or less. Also, his distance was insane, so they still shouldn’t be returnable.

    • Hercules_Rockefeller

      Wait, are we talking about the jab step here? That should only affect placekicking, because the approach on kickoffs is already much different (and longer) than the approach used for placekicking. I think that’s the key difference; the stroke itself is probably fairly similar, but the longer approach builds up more power behind the stroke for kickoffs. Kinda like how swinging a driver is essentially the same motion as swinging an iron, it’s just harder to do accurately and generates more power.