The Indianapolis Colts have parted ways with kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. What caused the relationship to come unglued?
The relationship between the team and Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship has come to an end. The team announced today that he has been waived, ending perhaps one of the more polarizing player-team relationships in recent Colts history. Where did it go wrong?
The Colts Tried To Right The Ship
The team picked up Blankenship as an undrafted free agent two years ago. Blankenship spent time in college at the University of Georgia and walked away making 100 percent of his extra points and averaging over 80 percent regarding made field goals. The relationship started out with a great deal of flexibility. The Colts had previously given future Hall of Fame kicker Adam Vinatieri a long leash in the previous season despite his kicking woes, which started in Week Two and lasted through Week Thirteen.
Surely, things would work out better, right? Not exactly. Vinatieri was given a lot more leeway because he was consistent and automatic. For Blankenship, his tenure with the Colts did not start that well, and continued to be a rolling snowball of miscues that the Colts quietly refused to acknowledge in hopes that their kicker could right the ship.
Colts Never Fully Trusted Blankenship
“Hot Rod”, as he was affectionately known to fans, began his rookie campaign with 32 of 37 field goals made. He moved on to his sophomore campaign, making seven of eight extra points and 11 of 14 field goals. However, things quickly took a turn during the Baltimore Ravens game last season. Blankenship missed an incredible three kicks. One field goal was blocked, another was missed, and the game winner? Missed.
The Colts later revealed that he was dealing with some sort of hip injury, but were pretty hush about his condition while they worked behind the scenes to find a new kicker. This was perhaps the first indication that the team was trying to believe in him, but secretly didn’t. They went on to sign former Chargers kicker Michael Badgley for what should have been just a few games, but instead, this lasted the balance of the season.
False Consistency Fools The Colts
If that wasn’t enough, the Colts brought in former Ravens kicker Jake Verity to push Blankenship in camp. Again, it was another sign the Colts weren’t totally sold on ”Hot Rod”. Truth be told, Verity was not as strong of a push as Rodrigo needed because he declined as the offseason went on, and Blankenship’s ”consistency” is what won him the job.
The eventual unraveling was lurking in the shadows and reared its ugly head during the Texans game Sunday. Blankenship sailed two kickoffs out of bounds, creating great field position for the opposing team. After the Colts came storming back with a 17-point fourth quarter, he missed the game winning 42-yard field goal in overtime. That was the final straw.
Try as they might, the Colts couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room. As early as this morning, Special Teams Coach Bubba Ventrone threw his hat into the ring to defend ”Rod The Kicker”, but eventually quipped that the situation was bad. By afternoon, Blankenship was gone and the Colts brought in kickers throughout the day. They eventually signed two, Chase McLaughlin (who previously spent time with the team) and Lucas Havrisik, with the hopes that one will be elevated to the active roster later this week. The search begins again.
Respectfully, this is a disaster for the Colts. Keeping a kicker who’s cost the team multiple games is blind loyalty. This is a ”what have ‘you’ done for me lately?” league. And, if all ”you” have done lately is cost the team in critical moments, ”you” will be out the door. Now, the team has to attempt to recoup the lost time, lost games, and lost credibility.
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