The Rhodes Revival and The Peterson Plan

By the time he got to the end of his time with the Minnesota Vikings, Xavier Rhodes seemed pretty much done. Fans grew accustomed to some sort of blown coverage on Rhodes’ side of the field. Quite often, there was an injury or apparent miscommunication. It was frustrating to watch the once-dominant Rhodes – who was on a 5-year, $70.1 million contract – struggle so much.

Last season, Rhodes largely returned to form. I’ll be honest by saying that I did not see that coming.

According to PFF, Rhodes was the NFL’s ninth-best corner. His 77.3 score is identical to Jalen Ramsey‘s. In other words, Rhodes was good. His last season in Minnesota resulted in a 47.9 score, 109th out of 115 total. He jumped 100 spots in PFF‘s rankings after leaving Minnesota.

Now, Vikings fans may be inclined to take a cynical view, especially since the Minnesota defense struggled so mightily without veterans like Xavier Rhodes last season. However, I’m going to zig while others zag. I think the Rhodes Revival offers us some reason for optimism.

Patrick Peterson, as you may have heard, was a major signing for our Vikings in free agency. Much has been made of his relatively expensive one-year deal, especially since his play has been declining for a couple seasons. By now, though, you probably see where I’m going.

Peterson’s situation, as you may have guessed, mirrors Rhodes’ in several important ways. Both are once-great corners who are now a little older. They’re both a step slower than they used to be, both are big and physical, and both were first-round picks.

For the past two seasons, Peterson’s play has been declining, a reality that is evident in his PFF scores. In 2018, Peterson finished at 5th overall in their rankings. In 2019, he dropped to 41st. 2020 saw him drop to 83rd. There is reason for hope, though.

PFF recently wrote about how a scheme change may be the key to getting the best out of Peterson, that the move to Minnesota could spark a late-career resurgence. The same certainly proved true for Rhodes. In Indy, Rhodes reclaimed his CB1 abilities.

The Vikings will be hoping that their Peterson Plan will spark a similar resurgence in their veteran corner.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 11, 2021.