The big story following the Minnesota Vikings’ 38-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Saturday was the revelation that the Vikings’ defensive backs blew off the game plan that head coach Mike Zimmer had come up with for covering Packers’ start receiver Jordy Nelson. The plan had called for Xavier Rhodes to shadow Nelson wherever he went, but that’s not how the Vikings’ defensive backs played it.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, it looks like the person that was responsible for what happened was veteran Terence Newman, who apparently told Rhodes that he could cover Nelson.
Early in the game, though, veteran cornerback Terence Newman told Rhodes that he could also cover Nelson, suggesting the two defenders simply stay on their respective sides of the field.
Pressured by the 38-year-old Newman, Rhodes, in his fourth season, allowed the veteran to do as he pleased, Rapoport was told.
When Rhodes was eventually confronted by Zimmer on the sideline, he explained the difficult decision he faced: Listen to his coach or Newman, a respected leader of Minnesota's defense.
As I mentioned in my previous story about this, Newman is someone that’s been with Mike Zimmer at all of his NFL stops. For him to have come up with this idea and thought that he knew better than the coach isn’t a good look for someone whose career is winding down.
Equally significant in this, at least as far as I can see, is the fact that Newman remained tight-lipped about what happened after the game and allowed Rhodes to take the heat for what happened. From what we’ve seen from Xavier Rhodes over the years, he doesn’t seem to be the type to just blow off orders from the head coach, and in this case it doesn’t appears that this isn’t on him. So, I would like to take a second to apologize to both Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn, who apparently didn’t have anything to do with this whole fiasco when I implied that they may have in the previous article.
As far as Newman is concerned, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Vikings deactivated him for the season finale against the Chicago Bears on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Something needs to be done on this front, and since there’s only one week left in this disaster of a season, it seems appropriate that Zimmer would put him on the bench. You would also think this would put a serious kibosh on any plans the team might have had to bring Newman back for next season, though at age 38 it’s possible that he could opt to retire anyway.
But, it appears that we now know who was responsible for what happened with the Vikings’ defensive backs on Saturday at Lambeau Field.