Xavier Rhodes focused on correcting his play with Vikings in 2019

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Xavier Rhodes
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Xavier Rhodes /

Xavier Rhodes struggled during the 2018 season but looks to bounce back to his Pro Bowl form for the upcoming year with the Minnesota Vikings.

Watching a top-tier defensive back going up against the best wide receivers in the league can be quite entertaining to watch and fans of the Minnesota Vikings have gotten to see that on a regular basis with Xavier Rhodes.

A first-round draft pick who needed to clean up his play to get to become one of the top players at his position (including wearing boxing gloves to stop holding), Rhodes has defended 67 passes in 89 games played and returned one interception 100 yards for a touchdown.

However, Rhodes didn’t look like his usual self in 2018. A quick look at Pro Football Focus shows that they agree that he struggled, as he earned the lowest grade of his career in coverage (55.1) as well as overall defense (58.2).

Even head coach Mike Zimmer spoke about his struggles according to the Star Tribune, being quite harsh with the defensive back:

"“I just don’t think he played as well as he can play. He needs to play up to his ability level. We’re paying him a lot of money. He needs to play up to that contract.”"

The money Zimmer is describing is the five-year deal Rhodes signed worth $70 million. He also carried a salary cap hit of over $13.3 million in 2018 and will have the same cap hit for the 2019 season.

Recently, Rhodes responded to this comment in a professional manner on the official website of the NFL, stating some observations he had about his play.

"“I mean, we had a bad year as a whole team, so everybody was messing up. We all need to come together as a team and correct our mistakes. I was one of those guys being a leader on the team, not making as many plays as I did in previous years.”"

Rhodes accounted for some of his errors by pointing out that he gambled more often than he should have on plays and performed out of character at times. With those things in mind, he had nothing but praise for his coach.

"“We appreciate him being hard on us, being tough on us,” Rhodes said. “He only wants greatness out of us.”"

There is no question that Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff demand excellence from everyone around him (no matter what Matt Kalil might say). By being so frank with his players a level of respect can be earned and held. That respect is something which has helped keep key pieces of the team together despite issues with the salary cap.

Must Read. The biggest question at each Vikings position. light

Xavier Rhodes is under contract through the 2022 season with the Minnesota Vikings and should continue to play at a high level for the team. And hopefully, that means he can return to play that made him one of the most feared cornerbacks in the NFL.