On Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes was awarded AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after a Week 3 performance which included 2 interceptions—including one returned for a touchdown:
X Factor. @XavierRhodes29_ is the AFC Defensive Player of the Week! pic.twitter.com/ov4Tfl4lBv— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 30, 2020
After a tough Colts debut in Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the veteran cornerback is starting to regain his prior All-Pro Form—showing obvious flashes of the shutdown cornerback he once was with the Minnesota Vikings.
With 2nd-year cornerback Rock Ya-Sin having recently been held out of action with an illness, it’s been Rhodes who’s assumed the role as the Colts de facto #1 cornerback, and he’s clearly delivered the last two weeks.
Specifically, per Pro Football Focus, Rhodes is the league’s #1 rated cornerback through the first three weeks of this year’s regular season:
1. XAVIER RHODES, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Rhodes got off to a bit of a rough start in his first game with the Indianapolis Colts. In Week 1 against Jacksonville, he recorded a 39.3 coverage grade, allowing three catches for 33 yards and one score. On top of that, he was flagged for defensive pass interference in the middle of the third quarter, resulting in a 30-yard gain that set up a Jaguars field goal to tie the game. Rhodes bounced back, though, and had some of the best play of his career in the following two weeks.
On his 48 combined coverage snaps in Weeks 2 and 3, Rhodes allowed just one of six targets in coverage to be caught for 11 yards while recording a pass breakup and two interceptions — he returned one for a touchdown and the other came in the end zone. Indianapolis currently sits at the top spot entering Week 4 in expected points added per pass play allowed, and Rhodes has been an integral part of that. We will see how long this will continue from Rhodes, who has struggled in recent years. Regardless, he has impressed over the past couple of weeks.
Rhodes has a +89.0 grade overall—highlighted by a +89.7 coverage grade.
Currently, signing the 30 year old cornerback looks like a savvy pickup by Colts general manager Chris Ballard, as Rhodes has been ‘sticky’ in coverage, generated turnovers, and has become a standout in Indy’s starting secondary.
The reunion with his old defensive backs coaches and a much needed change of scenery—with a transition to more zone coverage has so far rejuvenated Rhodes’ career with the Colts.
Whether the veteran can keep up his recent torrid play remains to be seen, but the 3x Pro Bowler is starting to look like his ‘old self’ and right now, the ‘Rhodes closed in Indianapolis’.