On Thursday morning, many of us awoke to the news that the Jacksonville Jaguars had signed ex-Broncos kicker Brandon McManus and released now ex-Jags kicker Riley Patterson (later revealed to be traded to Detroit in exchange for a conditional 7th round pick in 2026).
Despite the fact that over the past few years (particularly before 2022) McManus has been an above-average kicker in the NFL, it’s hard not to have mixed feelings. After all, Riley gave us one of the greatest moments in Jaguars history with the game-winning field goal to cap a historic comeback against the Chargers in the 2023 Wild Card game.
With this incredible moment in the not-so-distant past, it may confuse readers why Jacksonville made such a move. However, the justification can be summed up with two words: leg strength.
Let’s do a quick comparison between Patterson’s career FGs (two seasons) and McManus’ FGs from the past five seasons:
Patterson vs McManus FG Stats
|Patterson (last 2 seasons)||87.8||11-11||16-17||14-17||2-4|
|McManus (last 2 seasons)||80.6||13-15||10-12||18-18||13-22|
|McManus (last 5 seasons)||81.8||30-32||29-32||43-45||29-51|
When looking at FGs less than 40 yards over the past two years, Patterson appears to have a slight edge. However, considering three of McManus’ misses from under 40 yards were blocked, the numbers appear more comparable. If we further extend McManus’ stats to include the last five seasons, we see that McManus is extremely consistent from short ranges – similar to Patterson.
However, looking at the longer-range FGs, you can begin to see a disparity. While Patterson was a solid 14-of-17 from 40-to-49 yards over the last two seasons, McManus is 18-18 in the same time span. Even during the 2022 season, which many consider a “down year” for McManus, he still did not miss any of his 10 FGs between 40 and 49 yards. An impressive statistic: McManus has not missed a FG between 40 and 49 yards since week 10 of the 2019 season.
Beyond 50 yards, it is fair to say that neither are elite distance kickers like Justin Tucker or Daniel Carlson. Still, over the same period during which Patterson made 50% of his four attempts from 50+ yards with a long of 53 yards, McManus has knocked through the uprights on 59% of his 22 attempts from 50+ yards with a long of 61. Beyond simply the proportion of kicks made (represented by FG%) from above 50 yards, the sheer number of kicks McManus attempted from this distance shows us that McManus’ coaches felt comfortable putting the game in the hands of the seasoned vet to kick a long one.
Some critics of this move have already pointed out that 2022 was a down season for McManus (77.8 FG%). However, many top-notch kickers who hang around the league for over a decade have a down year amidst a run of solid seasons. Adam Vinatieri had multiple seasons with sub-80 FG% before even more 90+% seasons and a Pro Bowl nod. Additionally, considering McManus had two FGs blocked due to abysmal pass protection by the Broncos last year – one from between 20-29 yards and another between 30-39 yards – his lower FG% really bubbles down to his high number of attempts from over 50 yards, an option that the Jags coaching staff rarely even felt comfortable choosing last year.
Perhaps the most under-appreciated benefit of leg strength is on kickoffs.
Get this: In 2022, the Jags ranked 26th in the league in touchback percentage at 50.51%. The year before, Jaguars were last in the league at 35.48%. While only the 2022 rate can be attributed to Patterson, needless to say, it’s been an issue for the Jags. Contrastingly, Denver ranked 8th in the league in 2022 (68.86%) and 3rd in 2021 (79.49%) – a stark difference.
Hence, considering both the recently-passed rule that fair catches on kickoffs inside the 25 will bring the ball out to the 25 and the fact that we now have an offense that will hopefully have the kicker more active than the punter, the role of a strong leg is as desirable as ever.
One final note: In anticipation of the naysayers who claim McManus’ long attempts are a result of the altitude in Denver – McManus’ career FG % at home is 6% lower than his away FG%. On long kicks, his FG% on kicks above 50 yards over the past 3 years is 57% at home and 68% away.
Collectively, it is true that Patterson was solid in 2022, and for his late-season heroics, he holds a special place in the hearts of Duval. As to whether McManus will be the McMan or the McAnus, only time will tell. But judging from his near-decade of consistent kicking, it could certainly reap benefits by season end (and beyond)!
Riley, thank you for everything. And Brandon, welcome to Duval!