McManus' Temper Tantrum & Public Contradiction of Fangio a Bad Look for Broncos
It's always odd when a kicker, and especially one who hasn't been very good this year, acts like a quarterback on the field and at the podium. Actually, if it were a quarterback behaving the way Brandon McManus did during the Denver Broncos' 23-20 win over the L.A. Chargers and after, I'd worry about that player's longevity with the club.
First, I have to back up and set the stage for the initial conflagration. At the end of the second quarter, head coach Vic Fangio had the opportunity to kick what would have been a 65-yard field goal attempt. Instead, after an awkward sequence, Fangio chose to try one last play of Drew Lock chucking it down the field.
McManus was livid, after initially trotting out onto the field to attempt what would have been an NFL record kick had he made it. Fangio pulled the kicking unit off the field after changing his mind and McManus could be seen on the television broadcast hollering before throwing his helmet into the sideline.
Why was McManus so upset? Because he wanted a shot at the NFL record and he hits kicks from that distance regularly during warm-ups. Individual glory was within his grasp before Fangio yanked it for what he thought was in the best interest of the team.
After the game, Fangio explained why he ultimately decided against attempting the 65-yarder, risking the wrath of his kicker.
“I didn’t want to try the 65-yarder," Fangio said post-game. "At that point, I didn’t think it was desperation. I’ve seen many times where guys go out there and try extra-long kicks. They alter the mechanics and it affects him the rest of the game. I’m going to say that that decision not to let him go out there for the 65-yarder led him to making the 52 and the 53-yarder.”
McManus' reply to the notion that a missed kick can affect a kicker's technique?
“Does a Hail Mary affect the way a quarterback throws the ball?” McManus queried rhetorically.
Touche, you might say. But it's easy for McManus to say when he's not responsible for the ultimate success and failure of the entire team.
On top of that, Fangio hasn't been able to trust McManus. Thankfully for the Broncos, McManus came in and nailed his two fourth-quarter field goal attempts, both of which were from 50-plus yards. Going into Week 13, though, McManus was 1-for-3 from 50-plus yards on the season.
Sure, he's got a big leg and the air at Mile High is thin. But Fangio has to look at the big picture, weigh the risks and the rewards, before making a decision.
McManus just wanted the record. Contradicting his coach in the press after throwing a tantrum on the field shows perhaps what's most important to McManus; individual glory.
McManus was a money kicker in his first couple of seasons with the Broncos. He earned that lucrative contract extension the Broncos gave him. But in clutch moments when the chips have been down, he's been a coin-flip type of kicker for the Broncos since 2017.
He's well-loved and respected, especially for a kicker, within the Broncos locker room. But Fangio doesn't have the same shared experience with 'BMac' that the players do. And considering that the Broncos could save $3 million on the cap if they moved on from McManus next year, it would behoove the player to be a bit more diplomatic. Most NFL kickers come at a fraction of the $4.25M price tag McManus carries next year and they're seen, not heard.
“I think we’re two grown men and we understand the ebbs and flows of the game," McManus said post-game. "He hasn’t been here that long to see my total range in training camp over the years and stuff like that. I knew I could make it. They’ve seen me make it in practice... There is one way that you can take the frustration and let it affect you later throughout the game, but I was just happy with myself to hone it in.”
McManus came through in the clutch for the Broncos, nailing the walk-off 53-yarder to give Fangio just his fourth victory as a head coach. But if McManus believes he's got enough credit, as it were, built up in the bank to contradict his head coach publicly, perhaps he has forgotten that the Broncos haven't made the playoffs in four years and that Fangio owes him nothing.
Fangio still awarded McManus a game ball and allowed him to address the team in the locker room. But all that happened before McManus went out onto the podium and proceeded with the smart Alec routine. As of last night, McManus was of the opinion that all is well between he and Fangio.
“Yeah (laughing)," McManus said. "One hundred percent. Like I said, kicking is a completely mental game. You battle the struggles the ebbs and flow of it, you know, head coaching. We deal with a lot of the same scrutiny. He has to make decisions and I have to make pressured kicks. At the end of the day, I’m mad because I didn’t get to kick, and in his mind, he made the right decision for the team. I have no problem with that, but like I said, I would love to have my name in the history books.”
At worst, McManus' behavior was insubordination. At best, it was publicly disrespectful to a head coach still trying to imprint on this team. Either way, it's a bad look for the Broncos.