State of the Broncos: The 2021 Special Teams Player of the Year
The Broncos finished the 2021 season with a 7-10 record. It was the team’s fifth-straight losing season. It also marked the sixth-consecutive year in which the franchise failed to make the playoffs.
As a result, Vic Fangio was shown the door. The head coach was 19-30 during his three seasons in Denver. And more change is sure to come.
But that doesn’t mean all was lost. There were still some bright spots during the 2021 campaign.
During the first week of the “State of the Broncos” series, it’s time to highlight some of the good things. It’s a chance to take a look at the positives that a new head coach can build upon.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
It’s no secret that the Broncos had bad special teams units under Vic Fangio. That stats say it. They eye test backs it up.
On nearly a weekly basis, the team was having some sort of blunder in that phase of the game. A blocked punt or kick. A long return on a kickoff or a punt. It was one thing after another, a source of constant frustration in Broncos Country.
As a result, it’s tough to find too many highlights amongst Tom McMahon’s group. After all, there aren’t a lot of Steve Tasker-type players on a group that is dead last in the league in kick return yardage allowed, as well as average kickoff return. They’re bad on both sides of the coin.
But there were some highlights.
Sam Martin got a lot of work during the season. Because the Broncos offense struggled so much, he punted the ball 67 times on the season. Denver was fourth-best in the NFL in net punting average at 42.8 yards. A lot of that is due to Martin, who had some booming kicks during the season.
Sometimes, the best moments on special teams are the ones that never happen. They’re the disasters that are avoided. While it seems like the Broncos had every kind imaginable this season, they did manage to dodge a big one.
Jacob Bobenmoyer didn’t have a bad snap all season. He played all 17 games as the team’s long snapper on punts and kicks, without a single error.
No one knew his name. No one saw him on TV. And that’s a good thing.
That’s in contrast to a guy who was on the screen a lot. And usually for good reasons.
Once again this season, Brandon McManus was among the steadiest players on the Broncos roster. The kicker was super consistent, making kick after kick after kick.
On the year, McManus was 33 out of 34 on extra points. He was also 26 out of 31 on field goals, including a 61-yarder. Four of his five misses came from beyond 50 yards, while the other one was blocked.
On a team that was unbelievably inconsistent, playing on a group that was woeful most of the time, McManus still managed to shine. He was steady as always, an unsung hero.
In 2021, the best special teams player on the Broncos roster was Brandon McManus.
1. Brandon McManus
2. Sam Martin
3. Jacob Bobenmoyer
4. Diontae Spencer