Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich stopped short of issuing much maligned place kicker Rodrigo ‘Hot Rod’ Blankenship a vote of confidence—following his poor performance during Sunday’s tie to the Houston Texans (via ESPN’s Stephen Holder):
Regarding kicker again, Reich adds, "Chris (Ballard) and I will sit down and have a long talk about that tonight."— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) September 12, 2022
What he did NOT say is "Rod is our kicker."
Read between the lines as you please.
Following a season that was curt short because of a hip injury, the Colts third-year kicker failed to qualm any lingering concerns that fans have had regarding his lack of leg strength and clutchness in critical in-game situations.
Perhaps intending to make up for his lack of kickoff hangtime—now handling kick off duties in Rigoberto Sanchez’s season-long absence, Hot Rod attempted to kick off directionally and help his coverage units by kicking to the corner (using the sideline as an extra defender). Or maybe it was because he thought he could skip the ball just inside the corner of the front of the end zone for an easy touchback.
Either way, it didn’t work out for the Colts special teams units late, as Blankenship incurred back-to-back penalties, giving the Texans ideal starting field position at their own 40-yard line in what was a closely contested game down the stretch.
Of course, his greatest mishap was slicing a 42-yard field goal attempt well wide right that would’ve won the game for the Colts with 2:00 minutes left in overtime. The kick never had a chance—whether it was from 35 yards or 45 yards.
The Colts didn’t bring in serious competition to push Blankenship for the starting job this offseason—as only Jake Verity was signed, who never posed a meaningful threat in training camp or preseason. Not even Michael Badgley, who kicked reasonably well in relief of Blankenship in 2021, was brought back for a much healthier competition this offseason.
Rest assured though, it’s expected they’ll work out some kickers this week to either replace Hot Rod or put some heat on him that his future performances simply have to be better to keep his job going forward. The Colts’ kicking game remains a weakness and that cannot continue—it’s too important to a team’s underlying success.