Xavier Rhodes is having a difficult season.
The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings has seen his performance decline this year, a dropoff that was exacerbated Monday night when Seattle Seahawks receiver David Moore beat him in man coverage for a 60-yard touchdown.
It was the fourth time Russell Wilson threw in Rhodes’ direction that night and the fourth time Rhodes allowed a completion.
Rhodes responded to the big play by throwing his hands in the air as if to suggest he was expecting safety help on the touchdown before a sideline outburst that included an interaction with head coach Mike Zimmer and slamming his helmet into the turf.
Rhodes delivers apology
For that, he apologized on Wednesday to his teammates and head coach Mike Zimmer.
“I just want to start off and apologize to the organization, my team, my family for how I reacted out there on that field on Monday night,” Rhodes said. “That's not the way I should carry myself, especially as a leader on this team.
“I apologize definitely to Coach Zim, and the things he's taught me. I should never react that way toward him or toward my team, period. I know my role, I need to play it better.”
Rhodes acknowledges he needs to play better
Rhodes continued, saying that he needs to play better and reduce his penalties. Rhodes has been flagged 10 times this season in addition to the four touchdowns he’s given up. He also took responsibility for the touchdown that gave Seattle a 10-point lead in their 37-30 win over the Vikings.
“One play particularly, it was my fault on the play, the touchdown, and that's how I'm going to leave it, not get into any details about that,” Rhodes said. “It was 100 percent my fault, no one else.
“I was supposed to be at a certain spot at a certain time, and I wasn't there. Like I said, I'm a leader on this team, I've been a leader for a while, and I need to do better and play my role a lot better than I've been playing lately.”
The Vikings fell to 8-4 with the loss, a full game back in the NFC North of a Green Bay Packers team that’s already beaten them. But they still have an edge in the NFC wild card race and are on pace to make the playoffs.
Improved play from Rhodes, who used to be depended on as a shutdown cornerback, would go a long way in helping Minnesota’s chances.
Mike Zimmer’s support of Rhodes
Zimmer announced his support for Rhodes when talking with reporters on Wednesday.
Mike Zimmer on his relationship with Xavier Rhodes:— Jeff Wald (@JeffWaldFox9) December 4, 2019
“He’s a good kid. He’s got a smile on his face all the time comes out to practice and works hard. I have a ton of respect for him.” #Vikings @FOX9 pic.twitter.com/q6ygRqX6NM
“Xavier’s a good kid,” Zimmer said. “We’ve always had our little moments, I guess you’d call it. But at the end of the day, he knows I’m trying to do what’s best for him. He’s always trying to do what’s best for me.
“I have a ton of respect for him —not just him — every player. He’s done what we’ve asked him to do. He tries to do it. He’s a good kid.”
A Vikings defense that ranked fourth in yards allowed last season and led the league in that category in 2017 has fallen to the middle of the pack at 16th this season.
They’ll need better play from Rhodes and as a unit to avoid an early exit in the playoffs — or even earlier.
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