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.