Xavier Rhodes gave up one of the most significant plays in Monday night's loss to the Seahawks, and he was visibly upset immediately after.
Rhodes slammed his helmet on the ground in a tirade that included angry pacing and an exchange with coach Mike Zimmer caught by ESPN cameras. After a couple of days to cool off, the cornerback publicly apologized for his actions.
"I just want to start off by saying I apologize to the organization, my team, my family, how I reacted out on that field," Rhodes said, via ESPN. "That's not the way I should carry myself, especially as a leader on this team. I apologize definitely to Coach (Mike) Zim(mer), and the things he's taught me, I should never react that way towards him or towards my team period. I know my role, I need to play it better.
"I need to play better out on that field, eliminate the penalties and just do well. There's a lot more football going on right now. We still have a great chance of making it to the playoffs and still have a chance to win our division. Right now I'm looking forward to doing that, helping my team day to day, minimize the penalties I have that's going on each and every week and bettering myself."
Statistically, Rhodes has recorded 55 tackles, five passes defended and one forced fumble, but hasn't looked like his former All-Pro self. He's in the midst of his worst season in terms of pass coverage and overall defensive grade, per Pro Football Focus, registering career-low grades of 47.1 (overall defensive) and 45.1 (pass coverage). His grades land him at 105th in the NFL among all cornerbacks with at least 250 snaps played. He's also just two penalties from tying his career high for a season (12).
The 29-year-old cornerback is in the middle of a five-year, $70.1 million contract and is essentially locked into his deal through this season, with his cap number dropping significantly in 2020 from $17.6 million to $4.8 million, per Over The Cap.
It's clear he isn't going anywhere, but the Vikings have January plans on their minds. At 8-4, Minnesota currently holds the NFC's second wild-card spot and in control of whether it reaches the postseason after missing it in 2018.
That means Rhodes' long-term status with the team is not of immediate concern. There are games to be won and a playoff spot to secure. Zimmer took such an approach when discussing Rhodes with reporters Wednesday.
"I'm not going to evaluate players in the media," Zimmer said. "I'll wait until the end of the season to determine that."
Zimmer was noncommittal when pressed further to evaluate Rhodes' play and comment on his standing within the franchise.
He's wise to take such a stance, of course, with so much still on the line for these promising Vikings. A Monday night setback suffered at the hands of one of the conference's best shouldn't send everyone in Eagan running for the hills. Minnesota will instead prepare for its next opponent, the downtrodden Detroit Lions. We'll see if Rhodes can bounce back against rookie quarterback David Blough.