Mike Zimmer determined to get Xavier Rhodes back on track in 2019

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer /

The head coach of the Minnesota Vikings recently commented on how he felt the team’s All-Pro cornerback could have played better last season.

During the 2017 season, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes had himself a performance that resulted in his very first First-Team All-Pro selection. More of the same was expected from Rhodes in 2018, but the veteran cornerback struggled probably more than he would have liked last season.

Compared to 2017 when he allowed his coverage to haul in just 55.1 percent of their targets, Rhodes saw that percentage jump to 65.2 last season. Opposing quarterbacks also had a higher passer rating when targeting the Vikings corner last year (88.4) than they did in 2017 (77.4).

Rhodes’ play didn’t exactly fall off a cliff. But his performance last season wasn’t exactly a step in the right direction.

Was this due to Rhodes dealing with nagging injuries? It’s possible, but Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t about to use that as an excuse for his top corner’s play in 2018.

During the NFL’s annual owner’s meetings this week, Zimmer commented on Rhodes’ performance last season and how it needs to get back on track for 2019.

"“Xavier needs to play better. He needs to play better. I’m going to make sure that he plays better. It’s partly my job to make sure that he plays better and I’m going to do it.I just don’t think he played as well as he can play. He needs to play up to his ability level and I need to make sure that he does that. We’re paying him a lot of money. He needs to play up to that contract.”"

When asked if Rhodes’ age (he will be 29 in June) could have played a factor in his performance last year, Zimmer didn’t think it had any relation.

"“He hasn’t lost speed, he hasn’t lost athletic ability. He’s kind of gotten away from his technique a little bit and we’re going to get back to it.”"

It sounds like the Minnesota corner might have been a little too overconfident in himself last season and it’s likely what led to some of his mistakes out on the field. But leave it to Zimmer to put Rhodes right back in place.

The Vikings head coach isn’t “taking a shot” at his top corner though and Rhodes likely knows this. Zimmer just knows how great of a player Rhodes can be and he wants to make sure he plays at that level for as long as possible.

Minnesota’s head coach is set on getting his talented cornerback to playing like an All-Pro in 2019 and it sounds like he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure that’s exactly what happens.

Must Read. 4 teams that could trade for Trae Waynes in 2019. light

(For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.)