Could the Vikings' corners be the defense's weakest link?

Rhodes' and Waynes' performance in 2019 begs the question of whether a change should be made.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Xavier Rhodes

Last week, the focus pertaining to the Minnesota Vikings was on quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Just as it has been since he signed his three-year, fully-guaranteed, $84 million contract, the 31-year old has been under plenty of scrutiny and as they entered a big matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, linebacker Zach Brown declared him the weakest link on the team.

That matchup has come and gone and after Cousins' performance of 322 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. Brown meanwhile is no longer a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

But despite Cousins banishing his former teammate from Washington to the unemployment line, the Vikings till have issues they need to work out.

One of those issues has been the play of starting cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. As one of the most tenured duos on the Vikings' defense, Rhodes and Waynes have built quite the resume under the tutelage of defensive backs guru Mike Zimmer.

However, their performance in 2019 begs the question of whether a change should be made.

The player that's under the biggest spotlight here is Rhodes. The 29-year old is just two seasons removed from an All-Pro campaign, but after a tough 2018 season, he just doesn't look like the same player.

Coming into Sunday's matchup with the Detroit Lions, Pro Football Focus charged Rhodes with 28 receptions, which is the fourth-most in the NFL. While that stat is a little concerning, it's more alarming considering his 33 targets are fewer than the three players ahead of him on that list. 

Even worse, opposing quarterbacks are posting a 110.4 QB rating when targeting Rhodes, which is a far cry from his 2017 campaign at 73.2.

Meanwhile, Waynes also ranks high on that list, allowing 27 receptions (sixth in the NFL) on 40 targets including two touchdowns. With an opposing QB rating of 102.0, it's fair to question just how effective Zimmer's corners have been and what could be the next move if there is one to be made.

While Mackensie Alexander has been great in the slot, allowing a 35.4 QB rating when targeted, it's probably not something the Vikings want to mess with. What they could opt to do, however, is turn loose their 2018 first-round pick Mike Hughes.

Follow BMTN Sports on Twitter

While Hughes has only played in three games after returning from a multi-ligament knee injury, the second-year corner has been impressive so far. Albeit a small sample size, teams are connecting just 50% (7-for-14) of their targets in Hughes' direction and the UCF product picked up a big deflection last week while covering Philadelphia's Alshon Jeffrey on a turnover on downs.

With the Vikings unlikely to remove Rhodes from the starting lineup, they could turn to Hughes to take some of Waynes' snaps, which could be a pivotal decision while trying to stop Detroit's receiver duo of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones this weekend.

The Vikings still may want to take things slow with Hughes, but with the Vikings needing a win to avoid falling 0-3 in the division, a move like this could be what keeps Minnesota afloat through Sunday and beyond.

Next Up

Sen. Julia Coleman

'No one's business': State senator calls out attack on her pregnancy

Sen. Julia Coleman represents Minnesota's District 47.

Willmar Police Department

'Errant bullet' goes through garage wall, kills Willmar man

The man was working in his garage when he was shot, witnesses said.

Screen Shot 2021-01-16 at 10.59.00 PM

Wild tie Kings with 2 seconds left, win in overtime

Another incredible finish for the Wild.

Screen Shot 2021-01-16 at 6.53.17 PM

Mike Lindell's MyPillow offering discounts using the code 'Qanon'

The Shakopee-based company is under the microscope because of the recent actions of its owner.

Surly Brewing

Facing aluminum can shortage, Surly unveils solution: 'Cantyhose'

The brewery came up with a creative way to repurpose unused cans.

Liam Robbins

Gophers stay perfect at home by crushing 7th-ranked Michigan

Liam Robbins and Marcus Carr were too much for the previously undefeated Wolverines.

police lights

Four teens arrested over robberies in Minneapolis

They teens were found in a vehicle that was taken during an earlier carjacking.

Boundary Waters/BWCA

All BWCA visitors will now have to watch three 'Leave No Trace' videos

Visitors left an "unacceptably high amount" of damage last year.

ambulance

Ten fatal overdoses in past 6 weeks reported in region of northern MN

Law enforcement agencies have issued a plea to the general public.

Related

Xavier Rhodes

5 starting positions the Vikings will need to fill for 2020

With the Vikings pressed against the cap, change could be coming in Minnesota.

Xavier Rhodes

Offseason preview: What changes will Vikes make at cornerback?

A staple of the Vikings' defense may see major changes this spring.

Holton Hill

Holton Hill can be missing piece for Vikings defense

As the Vikings head toward the second half of the season, Holton Hill could be an unlikely contributor that can make Mike Zimmer's defense even better.

Xavier Rhodes

Report: Vikings made offer to bring Rhodes back, but he picked Indy

Rhodes is signing a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

2018 has been a nightmare for Vikes cornerbacks, linebackers

Pro Football Focus has the numbers and it's ugly.

Mike Hughes

Why a cornerback rotation is best for the Vikings' defense

Minnesota's pass defense is giving up 236 yards per game.

Dru Samia

4 Vikings storylines to watch against the Colts

Things can't get worse than they were last week...right?

Danielle Hunter

The Vikings' defensive starters if the season started today

The defense will look a lot different in 2020.