Not too long ago, the Indianapolis Colts signed former Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say some fans were confused.
Incumbent starter Rodrigo Blankenship beat out a big boot in Chase McLaughlin last year as a rookie. That wasn’t all, however.
After going undrafted out of Georgia, where he was arguably the best kicker in the country, Blankenship not only won the starting job, but then proceeded to finish fifth in the NFL among all kickers with 139 points on the season.
At one point, he was on pace to beat David Akers’ all-time record of 166 points in a single campaign. Still, he finished just five points off the NFL lead when all was said and done. So please tell us why he needs to enter training camp battling for his job against a guy who attempted nine fewer field goals and 16 fewer extra points during his rookie season in 2019? Pineiro didn’t even kick in 2020.
Does it feel like Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is being disrespected?
Head coach Frank Reich said on Wednesday that there will be an “open competition” for the starting kicker job, though he did mention Blankenship had the edge due to his 2020 performance. We previously thought the signing indicated the Colts were losing faith in Blankenship because he had already battled a ton to get to where he was. Why does he need more pressure?
The one aspect of the whole thing that’s understandable is the fact that Pineiro was 2-for-2 on kicks 50 yards or more. On the other hand, Blankenship was just 1-for-3 and proved that his leg strength was a bit of a question mark. He’s got the accuracy and the technique, but doesn’t quite possess the “boom” NFL kickers require.
But then you look at Pineiro, who was just 3-of-7 on kicks between 40-49 yards. Like Blankenship, he was pretty much automatic from 20-39, but that mark from an important sweet spot is concerning.
Could it be the Colts soured on their rookie kicker after he whiffed on an easy 33-yard attempt against the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs — a game that ended up being a three-point loss? Why do they want a look at a guy who missed all of last year and was ditched in favor of Cairo Santos, who had bounced around the league since 2017?
It’s odd. Perhaps the Colts have their reasons, but we can’t help but think this is some sort of an unnecessary warning for Blankenship, who put forth one of the best rookie seasons from a kicker we’ve seen in recent memory.