INDIANAPOLIS – A 29-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl cornerback doesn’t come on the open market too often in the NFL. In the case of Xavier Rhodes, his status as a free agent followed two subpar, injury plagued seasons with the Vikings.
It’s up to the Colts’ coaching staff to bring Rhodes back to the top of his game.
“I think when any player comes into our system,” explains Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, “what we want to do is really three or four things. The number one thing is we want to model for him and show him the perfect picture of the techniques that he needs to have in his toolbox. I think that’s so important. Then as a coach, we want to inspire him through his mind and telling him the ‘why’ of what we’re asking him to do. That’s important to model it and then inspire it. Then we’re going to be truthful and honest in our correction of his technique and his effort. We’re just going to be on top of that, just to make him better as a player. Then we’re going to have to do a good job because with every player when they work this technique and we ask them to practice this certain way and play a certain way – this is the hardest thing he’ll ever do in terms of practice. So he’s going to need some encouragement.”
In the offseason, Rhodes called the move to Indy a no-brainer. Now, the work begins in earnest to be ready to roll for the start of the 2020 season.
“We model and teach,” says Eberflus. “We’re teachers first. We do a great job with that. I think our coaches do a great job with that. Then we have to do a great job of inspiring and telling him why. Then we have to correct and then we have to encourage. Those will be the things that he hears from us from a day-in and day-out basis.”