Sep 22, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) against the Cleveland Browns at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Browns defeated the Vikings 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Zimmer Says Xavier Rhodes Needs to Be More Focused

Second year man Xavier Rhodes is one of the more important players not just on the Vikings defense but the entire Vikings team. Minnesota was dismal in the secondary last year, and their efforts to get better in that area are going to largely hinge on Rhodes taking a marked developmental leap from year one to year two.

So how are things going thus far in Rhodes’ development under Mike Zimmer and his new staff? Too early to tell overall, but Zimmer does appear to have identified one area where Rhodes needs to get better. His mental focus.

Zimmer was asked about the coaches getting on Rhodes during OTAs and he said, “It’s really not just Xavier, it’s all of the defensive backs, stressing the fundamentals that we are trying to teach. Xavier has a lot of ability, I mean he’s a very, very talented guy and so I’m talking to him about being the same guy every single day and every play. Not one play is good and one play is not as good, to be more focused, I guess is really the thing. He has a lot of ability, I’m excited to work with him.”

Classic Zimmer right there. First, stresses that it’s all the DBs, reminding everyone that he’s coaching a whole team out there and it’s not about one guy. Second, gives you some specifics without being too specific (rather than just being generic like Leslie Frazier). Third, praises the player just enough to smooth over any suggestion that he might be unhappy.

The important take away is that Xavier Rhodes has been getting singled out for extra coaching attention in OTAs, enough for reporters to notice it and ask about it. Does this mean we should be worried about Rhodes? Not yet. Or at least, not any more than we already were, knowing how important he is to the team.

Xavier definitely showed flashes in 2013, enough to suggest that he can be a very good player, but it’s a new year and a new scheme, and the coaches are teaching new techniques. It’s too early to know if Rhodes can truly excel in Zimmer’s system.  First thing, he has to stay healthy – we know that was a problem last year – and at least according to Mike Zimmer, he has to maintain consistency and focus better than he has so far.

Like The Viking Age on Facebook.
Follow TVA on Twitter.
Subscribe to the Fansided Daily Newsletter. Sports news all up in your inbox.

Next Vikings Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep12:00at St. Louis RamsBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Minnesota Vikings Xavier Rhodes

  • MikeH123

    If this guy doesn’t come through, the Vikings are toast.

  • Richard

    If only he had the chance to play a year with Antoine! Would’ve been leaps more helpful than even some of the best coaches! Still my favorite vike of all time! Truly a dremarkable player will always be missed

    • guest

      Thank you! I’ve been saying this for a while now, but Antoine Winfield was just as important…if not more so for his presence alone. I mean yeah…sure he was aging and the skills were starting to decline; but the intangibles like experience, leadership, & effect on other DB teammates was sorely missed when he was gone. Who was going to replace those qualities when he left? They never even bothered to get a veteran player through free agency. You could tell just by the way how completely lost Chris Cook and others looked when they took the field. The ever consistent and steady presence of Winfield was no longer there to steer the course and calm the shipmates. The coaches didn’t know jack either. When they got pressured in the passing game…they welted. When they eventually got burned here or there…they didn’t respond. That’s why I’m most concerned about the leadership gap now that Jared Allen & Kevin Williams are gone. They were only able to hold the defensive front for so long till the secondary gave it all away. I know the defense is in somewhat of a transition right now, but for all the additions we made in that area…If we go 3-13, On-field leadership is probably a big factor in that.

  • 3kolu

    Zimmer’s coaching him up plain and simple. I expect big things from him this year. Like Cordarrelle Patterson, he had his best games against NFC North foes.

    • William Sharrer

      We can’t judge any of our secondary fairly from how they were forced to play under Frasier.The outdated cover2 did zero to utilize strong man corners like Rhodes,and even Cook.The soft zone we all saw,where the db was 10-12 yds deep before the snap is gone,and that strategy was more to blame in our defenses poor showing than the players talents themselves.We now have real coaches,who are competent,and will all guys like Xavier,Cox and even Josh shine playing them in press where they all excelled coming into the league but were never used that way.

      • 3kolu

        It’s a perfect storm. I believe that what was a liability last year has become a strength. We have competition for the nickel, a legitimate slot CB, and a coaching staff taylor made to make us competitive, specifically Zimmer and Gray.

  • David Mallow

    has nothing to do with if he’s any good or not, its more about Zimmer making him the best he can be… Rhodes will be a top tier CB in this league with Zims guidance as well as Jerry Gray…people are digging to deep into what was said.. I have no doubt he is a good CB,he’s already shown it… remember he shut down Calvin, and kept Marshall on check..that’s pretty good IMO as a rookie…

    • Cool Jack

      Once again DM…great comment…totally agree….this is a great D coach getting the best of his players…and he will….

    • 3kolu

      And he shut down James Jones