Xavier Rhodes is making the switch from the Minnesota Vikings to the Indianapolis Colts this season and he’s already a fan of the defense he’ll be playing in. While he’s played man-to-man coverage for the majority of his career, Rhodes spoke out on the ‘much easier’ defensive schemes in Indianapolis.
“It’s so much easier,” Rhodes said, via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “I’ll tell you that. . . . This one is more zone, eyes to the quarterback. That’s going to be the main difference for me, is being able to play looking at the quarterback, rather than looking at the man.”
When Rhodes was with the Vikings, he earned the phrase “Rhodes Closed”. This was due to his ability to lock down opposing wide receivers one-on-one. In most games, Minnesota would give Rhodes the responsibility of shadowing the opposing team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
However, Rhodes’ performance on the field took a massive dive in 2019. While he still made the Pro Bowl, Rhodes allowed 59 receptions on 70 targets last season. At the same time, he contributed just six pass breakups and zero interceptions.
Nonetheless, after years of operating as a man-coverage corner, Rhodes will have a chance to make the change to a Colts’ zone defense. Maybe a change of scenery and scheme can help Rhodes return to being a reliable cornerback.
Despite him excelling as a man-coverage cornerback before, the Colts believe Rhodes can be a key contributor in their zone-oriented defense. And seeing how he’s reacted to the move, Xavier Rhodes is embracing his altered role in a positive manner.