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Film Room: Colts take a shot on former All-Pro Xavier Rhodes

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Can the Colts get the All-Pro version of Rhodes in Indy?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts made yet another big move this offseason, signing former All-Pro Xavier Rhodes to a one year deal worth up to 5 million dollars. Rhodes is coming off one of his worst statistical seasons where he gave a up a completion percentage of over 80% and came away with 0 interceptions and just 6 pass break-ups (according to Pro Football Focus).

In today’s film room, we will look at the good and the bad of Rhodes’ film last season and talk about why this can be a low risk, high reward type of signing for the team.


The Good

Despite losing a step over the years, which we will discuss more in the bad section of this piece, he still has very good instincts for the position. He is at his best as an aggressor as he is great coming downhill and very smart in his zone reads. He operates best in zone coverage, which benefits the Colts greatly, and is still rugged and physical in press man. He still has a lot of the traits above the shoulders that made him a top tier corner years ago.

Here Rhodes sits on the slant route and attacks downhill in off man coverage. He anticipates the route and is able to get out of his back pedal quickly to rush downhill for the diving pass break-up. This is the type of stuff that he will be doing a lot of in the Colts’ scheme.

Goal line defense was a bit of an issue for the Colts last year, especially down the stretch. Rhodes uses his long arms and good technique to get the pass deflection here. He reads the fade route by taking away the inside move with his positioning. He then gets to the receiver’s inside shoulder, initiates contact, and then reads their body language to go up and make a play through the hands for the PBU.

Rhodes was banged up a lot early last season and it showed. Here he is noticeably limping before the snap. He gets good depth to the sticks and anticipates the outside throw to the sticks. Once the ball comes out of the quarterback’s hands, he breaks on it and attacks the receiver for the pass break-up.

Perfect technique here from Rhodes on the deep route against a much faster receiver. The receiver wants to get vertical up the numbers but Rhodes’ positioning forced him closer to the sideline. Rhodes then stays on the inside hip pocket and rides him to the boundary before turning to make a play on the errant throw.

Here Rhodes sits on the slant route in off man coverage again and makes a great break on the ball for a pass break-up. This play is so crucial in the redzone with such little space and Rhodes anticipates the play well to make a stop.

The physical mindset of his game is still there. He was getting beat pretty consistently by Courtland Sutton in this one but he still is in attack mode near the goal line in press. He knocks Sutton off balance then stays in his hip pocket to get the pass break-up and lock down the play on the outside.

Rhodes is able to come downhill here out of quarters coverage and make the play through the hands of the NFL’s leader receiver in Michael Thomas. Notice how in all these clips, the physicality and technique that Rhodes won with early in his career is still there and the reason why he wasn’t awful in 2019.


Tackling

Tackling and playing physical are vital parts of being a corner for the Colts. Look at Kenny Moore II and how elite he is in that department. Look at Rock Ya-Sin and his wrestling background. You have to be physical and a good tackler to play for the Colts. Rhodes luckily still has that mindset and was one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the NFL in 2019.

Rhodes is one on one with tight end Austin Hooper in the open field and he is able to bring down the sturdy tight end with relative ease.

Rhodes comes down out of zone coverage and stands up the ball carrier, which allows star safety Harrison Smith to knock the ball out for a fumble.

Rhodes flies down from his zone coverage to attack the screen play and make the tackle for a short gain.

Rhodes effortlessly sheds the block from the tight end and then fills the run lane perfectly for the quick tackle. He looks like a safety filling the hole on this play.

Rhodes reads the quick shovel inside and jumps the route to make the quick tackle. His ability to read plays, attack downhill, and wrap up for a solid tackles makes him such an asset as a run defender. This type of corner is exactly what fits the Colts’ scheme.


The Bad

Now this film room is way too positive so far for all the bad things we heard about Rhodes last year. So let’s go to his struggles. He is still great in his technique and physicality but the biggest issue is his athleticism. He really struggled in his movements last year and as a result, players got open deep on him way too often. Was this due to injury or is this who he is now? I don’t really know, all I do know is I’d be terrified to put him in man to man on an island.

Rhodes is really stiff in the hips here as he struggles to turn and stay with Davante Adams on the crossing route. Adams is a great receiver but he shouldn’t be able to pull away this easily on such a simple route concept.

This play is very ugly. Rhodes is in off man and very upright in his backpedal. He is stiff in his turn and transition and stumbles out of his break. This allows Adams to beat him on the double move and Rhodes is forced to grab him for the pass interference on the play. Ugly footwork and hips on this rep in the open field.

The overall long speed and athleticism concerns show here as speedy rookie Darius Slayton gets a step on Rhodes deep. Rhodes is unable to transition and keep up with the young receiver and Slayton gets over the top for a fairly easy touchdown.

Courtland Sutton just had his way last year with the Colts’ 2020 cornerbacks. Here Sutton hits Rhodes with a double move and gets deep for the big gain. Rhodes bites way too hard on the inside move and, even though his safety help bites hard too, he needs to do a better job of staying on top of this route and not letting it get deep.

This last clip appears to be a miscommunication so it is hard to entirely fault Rhodes here. Still, he has to know the situation. The defense is in an all out blitz so safety help over the top may not be rolling his way. Rhodes needs to at least stick with this route a little bit or force it more inside. He doesn’t really do anything here as David Moore goes untouched for the score.


Final Thoughts

There never truly is a bad one year deal in the NFL. Almost all one year deals are prove it type deals where you can see what you have in a player. When it comes to a former All-Pro like Xavier Rhodes, it isn’t a bad idea to kick the tires and see if he can return to form at all. That being said, he is very limited.

He fits the Colts well with his physicality, instincts in zone, and technique. Those three traits make him a playable player this next year and convince me at least that he won’t be a liability on the field. The biggest concern though is his athleticism. He looked really sluggish last season and was beat vertically constantly as a result. Maybe he was just injured or he needs to lose weight? I don’t truly know why he looked that slow but if that is the player that Rhodes is today, he is very limited.

If what I saw on film truly is what the Colts are getting, they can still work with that. If they utilize him in more zone coverage where he is near the box and attacking offenses, he should be fine. If they use him in man coverage a lot and leave him on an island, it could be a disaster. Overall though, there is no real harm in bringing in a talented vet like Rhodes who can at least compete out there and provide a solid baseline to a young group. I like the signing because of that fact right there.