During the first half of the Minnesota Vikings’ 38-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Saturday afternoon, those of you that follow The Daily Norseman on the Twitter machine saw me make the following musing:
Why is Xavier Rhodes not following Jordy Nelson everywhere he goes?— The Daily Norseman (@DailyNorseman) December 24, 2016
Well, according to a report from Pro Football Talk (via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and Mike Zimmer’s post-game press conference, that was the plan.
And the Vikings’ defensive backs decided that plan wasn’t good enough.
“That’s what he was supposed to do the whole game,” Zimmer said, via the Star-Tribune. “Someone decided they wouldn’t do that.”
When Rhodes was asked who, exactly, decided they didn’t want to go along with the plan, he said that he “didn’t really want to answer that.”
Nelson lit up the Vikings’ secondary for nine catches, 154 yards, and two touchdowns, but only managed two catches for nine yards and no scores in the second half. . .when Rhodes shadowed Nelson everywhere he went.
Rhodes did go into more detail with his answer, however.
“A matter of fact, forget it. We felt as a team, as players, we came together and we felt like we’d never done that when we played against the Packers. Us as DBs felt like we could handle him. That’s how we felt as DBs that we could stay on our side and cover him. In the beginning, we’d always played against them and played our sides, we never followed, so that’s what we felt as DBs. That’s what we went with.”
Zimmer also, reportedly, exchanged words with Terence Newman and reportedly told Newman to “do what he was supposed to do.”
To hear a player of Rhodes’ caliber make this admission is, to put it mildly, jaw-droppingly stunning. By all accounts, there hasn’t been any sort of a rift between Zimmer and the players at this point, and I’m honestly not sure what in the heck would have made the Vikings’ defensive backs decide that they know more than one of the best defensive minds in football.
There’s a reason that Zimmer would have wanted Rhodes to shadow Jordy Nelson, and that’s because he’s established himself as one of the best cover corners in the National Football League. He’s come up big against players like Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckham Jr., and DeAndre Hopkins earlier this season. Perhaps if the Vikings’ defensive backs would have done what the guy that runs the show asked them to do, things might have been a bit different at Lambeau Field on Saturday afternoon.
I’m sure that we’ll hear plenty more about this over the next couple of days. But in what is now, officially, a lost season for the Minnesota Vikings, it appears as though the coach might have lost the team, which would be a damn shame.