Publicly, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson supports the decision of coach Nathaniel Hackett to attempt a 64-yard field goal in lieu of giving Wilson a chance to convert fourth and five, in order to make the kick a little (or a lot) easier to make. Privately, Wilson may feel differently.
But Wilson’s private thoughts are never going to emerge in a situation like this. That’s true for most quarterbacks, especially whether they are in the first game of their first year with a hand-picked new team.
So realizing that he may actually feel very differently internally, here are the relevant things he communicated externally after the 17-16 loss to the Seahawks.
“Well, we got the best field goal kicker maybe in the game,” Wilson told reporters regarding the decision to take the ball out of his hands and place it on the foot of kicker Brandon McManus.
“We said, ‘Where can you make it from tonight?’ and he said 46, left hash. I think we were on the 46. That was before the drive. We got it there; unfortunately didnn’t go in. I think he has the leg for it for sure. Just went a little left I believe and just — I believe in Coach Hackett. I believe in what we’re doing. Believe in everything, and any time you can try to find a way to make a play on fourth and five, that’s great too. Also, I don’t think it was the wrong decision. I think he can make it. Obviously hindsight he didn’t make it, but we were in that situation again I wouldn’t doubt whatever he decided.”
But how confident was McManus that he could make it? McManus confirmed to reporters that he told the team he could make a field goal from the “46, left hash, and they got me exactly there.”
McManus also told reporters he pegged his chances of a kick from the “46, left hash” at 65 or 70 percent. Per Stathead.com, however, he had a 12.5-percent career success rate at field-goal tries of 60 yards or longer, going one of eight before last night.
Plenty of stock is placed in a kicker’s distance and accuracy during warmups. Obviously, however, that’s a different situation. During the game, there’s a snap, a hold, a rush. The kicker has limited time to adjust to the exact placement of the ball. And regardless of whatever McManus did in warmups last night, he previously was 12.5 percent at 60 yards or longer.
Which is impressive. But why would he think he had a 65-70 percent chance of making a kick that would have been the second longest kick in league history? And if Hackett had regarded the chances of making that kick at 12.5 percent, would he (or whoever whispers the sweet nothings of analytics in his ear) have decided to, you know, let Russ cook?