Wide Left: The roads have opened up for Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes was one of the Vikings' most exciting players two years ago, but has struggled to recapture that form in 2019.
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Xavier Rhodes

Just two years ago, Xavier Rhodes was one of the most exciting players on the Minnesota Vikings. With every Vikings fan within the state boundaries screaming "Rhodes Closed" at every opportunity they had, Rhodes shut down some of the top wide receivers in the NFL as he ascended to All-Pro status.

I remember this well. Going a little further back, Rhodes shut down Odell Beckham Jr. to the point where he looked like a sad Bloomin' Onion with no sauce. In November of 2017, he headed down to Atlanta and left Julio Jones wondering what Steve Sarkesian was really drawing up on his cocktail napkin. It was awesome.

But we fast forward to today and things have really gone south for Rhodes. Coming into Sunday's game with the Detroit Lions, Pro Football Focus had credited him with 28 receptions on 33 targets. With those catches, Rhodes had given up 266 yards (24th among qualifying cornerbacks), two touchdowns and a 110.4 quarterback rating.

Those numbers were pretty rough, but then came Sunday afternoon when Marvin Jones hit Rhodes like he was on the freaking autobahn. With two more touchdowns likely to be charged to him, Rhodes was reduced to an emotional mess, even sitting out as the Vikings prepared for a crucial stop on a two-point conversion.

This has unfortunately become the norm for Rhodes as he has blamed his poor performance on everything except for the fact he needs to be better. In the past two seasons, this has really taken a turn for the worse as every time he gets burned, he drops to the ground as if he were to scream "I'M COMING, LORETTA!" only to return several plays later.

His tantrum on Sunday would've make a 3-year-old proud, but Rhodes continues to do dumb stuff such as kicking a penalty flag and fighting Stefon Diggs during a training camp dispute, which in Minnesota just gets painted as being a malcontent.

We all know what Rhodes did in the past, but even somewhere in the middle would help the Vikings secondary immensely, especially with Trae Waynes not having an All-Pro season in his own right. While Mike Hughes has shown promise, the Vikings' chances of having a deep playoff run go down considerably if Rhodes doesn't step up. 

If that happens, this defense can go from good to great. If not, the Vikings are going to have some issues going up against some of the high-powered offenses in the NFC.

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