It’s really taken me this long to even acknowledge that Mike Shanahan even let Jason Elam go to Atlanta and sign a free agent contract in the first place. That really shouldn’t have happened. Elam may be in his high 30s, but was still more accurate from a certain range than most kickers the Broncos could have picked up — and while he was kind of a nutball who wrote Tom Clancy rip-off novels with his pastor, he might as well be there with John Elway, Terrell Davis, Gary Zimmerman, Rod Smith, and the rest of the guys who won back to back titles in 1997 and 1998..
So what does the Mastermind do when he lets Elam go? He has this Matt Prater fellow, sure, but decides to bring in the Idiot Kicker himself, MIke Vanderjagt (or, if you prefer, “Vanderchoke”) to compete with Prater for the kicker slot. At least Todd Sauerbrun’s 10-cent head was on top of a roided-out punting foot with sky-high hang-time on punts. Vanderchoke’s had issues hitting broad sides of barns, and I can’t imagine that having gotten better after being out of action since a short stint two years ago with Dallas.
It’s possible [Vanderjagt’s] enormous success has been offset in recent years by character concerns that have stuck with him since Peyton Manning’s Pro Bowl diatribe after the 2002 season.
After the Indianapolis Colts lost a playoff game that year, Vanderjagt said Manning, the team’s quarterback, needs to show more emotion and that coach Tony Dungy was too mild-mannered.
Manning responded a few days later during a Pro Bowl interview by saying, “We’re talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off.”
Better keep him out of the LoDo clubs or Jay Cutler will have to talk ish about him like he does Brandon Marshall. Replace a Bronco kicking semi-legend with a dolt like Vanderjagt. Real smart, Mastermind.