Matt Prater's Problem: An In-Depth Look at the Denver Broncos' Kicker

Jack MCorrespondent IMay 27, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 21:  Place kicker Matt Prater #5 of the Denver Broncos kicks a field goal from the hold of Brett Kern #1 against the New Orleans Saints during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 21, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Saints 34-32.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Mile High altitude is a kicker's best friend. It may just be a myth, but it does always seem that kickers can get that extra few yards on those long kicks.

In the 2008 offseason, former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan decided not to re-sign beloved kicker Jason Elam. Elam had kicked four game-winning field goals the previous season, but Shanahan wouldn't give up the cash. He wanted a player who had a powerful leg and was good at kickoffs, so he let Elam slip away to Atlanta.

How can you replace a player who is the franchise leader in points and games played? It certainly isn't easy. You need a guy with a powerful leg and an unbreakable spirit. The answer: Matt Prater?

Matt Prater is a simple man from a small town in Ohio. The 5'10", 180-pound kicker isn't hard to figure out. Here's a look at his 2008 statistics:

 

Yard Range: FG Percentage for Yard Range (Makes/Attempts)

1-29 yards: 87.5 percent (7/8)

30-39 yards: 88.9 percent (8/9)

40-49 yards: 45.5 percent (5/11)

50-plus yards: 83.3 percent (5/6)

 

As you can see, Matt Prater had three misses total from 1-39 yards, and 50-plus yards. He had double that in the 40-49 yard range with six!

With a new head coach, the Broncos' need to be great in all three aspects of the game. In order to be successful, the special teams needs Prater to step up from the 40-yard range.

If Matt Prater wants to continue to be a pro kicker, he needs to prove that he has the heart and mind to be one.

 

Statistics found here.