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Denver Broncos kickers: Killing two birds with one stone

Brandon McManus was cut because he was inaccurate as a FG kicker. Connor Barth is accurate on FGs, but he has historically been bad at kickoffs. ... Perhaps a change at punter is the answer?

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Through 13 weeks of the 2014 season, the lesser of the two kicking Colquitt's (Britton, the one who plays for us) is currently ranked 28th in the league in average punt distance - (43.6 yards) and 21st in net punt distance (39.3). This is horrible considering he has played half of his games at altitude where punters should thrive (unless they consistently outkick their coverage which would hurt their net distance). He has gotten a high percentage of his kicks inside the 20 (21 of 54) and only had one touchback, but that's not great given how much we are paying him. He is 10th in the league in % of punts that are downed inside the 20. His touchback % is best in the league (1.9%). Through the first three quarters of the season, he has been, at best, below average, and, at worst, bottom 10% of the league for punters. We could benefit from an upgrade at punter.

Brandon McManus is great is at kicking off, but his FG accuracy got him fired. His touchback percentage was best in the league. Connor Barth kicked off eight times on Sunday and did not get a single touchback. His kickoffs were woefully short:

C.Barth kicks 59 yards from DEN 35 to KC 6. K.Davis to KC 31 for 25 yards (J.Stewart).
C.Barth kicks 58 yards from DEN 35 to KC 7. K.Davis to KC 35 for 28 yards (L.Barrow).
C.Barth kicks 59 yards from DEN 35 to KC 6. D.Thomas to KC 31 for 25 yards (Q.Carter).
C.Barth kicks 55 yards from DEN 35 to KC 10. A.Wilson pushed ob at KC 31 for 21 yards (O.Bolden).
C.Barth kicks 49 yards from DEN 35 to KC 16. D.Thomas to KC 38 for 22 yards (S.Johnson).
C.Barth kicks 61 yards from DEN 35 to KC 4. D.Thomas to KC 35 for 31 yards (O.Bolden).
C.Barth kicks 63 yards from DEN 35 to KC 2. K.Davis to KC 38 for 36 yards (S.Johnson).
C.Barth kicks 52 yards from DEN 35 to KC 13. D.Thomas to KC 24 for 11 yards (B.Roby).

That is an average of 57.0 yards per kickoff. I know it was cold and windy and the turf is crap in KC, but that is still pathetic. The KC kicker, Cairo Santos, who is not very good at kickoff distance, averaged 60.0 on Sunday. The current worst team in the league on kickoffs (and most other things), OAK, averages 60.0 yards per kickoff. Prior to the game we were near the top of the league in touchback % on kickoffs and in average distance per kickoff (McManus averaged 65.7 yards per kickoff). 0 for 8 dropped us to 7th (66.7%) in touchback %.

The team that leads the league in touchback %, IND, uses their punter for kickoffs (McAfee - 77.8% of his kickoffs result in touchbacks). He is excellent at both punting and kicking off. Brandon McManus was the punter and place kicker for the Temple Owls in his junior and senior years (he also had 4 punts as a sophomore). He averaged 45.1 yards per punt, which would be good enough to put him in the top 10 punters in college if he were currently playing NCAA football.

If we cut Colquitt and resign McManus for punts and kickoffs we can fix our problem with kickoffs and possibly fix our problem with punting while keeping our accurate FG kicker, Barth. As a side benefit, McManus could be our desperation FG kicker (60+) since he has the leg for it and Barth doesn't. This move would also save money because McManus is a lot cheaper than Colquitt (not sure about the dead money on Colquitt's deal). Of course this presumes that McManus can still punt, but it's hard to imagine that he has forgotten how in the two years since he last punted on a regular basis.

Another option would be to let Colquitt try his hand at kickoffs. That doesn't solve his punting woes, but he did some kickoffs while at Tennessee, so maybe he will do a better job with kickoffs than Barth has done so far. I could only find stats on his kickoffs from his senior year (2008), but he averaged 63.5 yards per kickoff on 7 kickoffs. For comparison, that is exactly what McManus averaged on kickoffs while in college (admittedly that is only one year of data for Colquitt and four years of data for McManus).

The takeaway is this - Barth upgraded our FG accuracy, but now we not only suck at punt distance, but also at kickoff distance. Both of those shortcomings may not keep us from winning the Lombardi trophy this year, but they present obstacles that will have to be overcome. The question to you (and the front office) is this: Can we make a change that will improve both aspects of our team and, if that change is fairly simple, why aren't we making it? Let me know what you think in the comments (and with the poll).