What a difference a year can make. New York Jets safety Kerry Rhodes was making serious waves back in 2006 and 2007 as a playmaker in the NFL.
Amassing 160 tackles, seven sacks, nine interceptions, 16 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and two recoveries — one for a touchdown in 2006 & 2007, Kerry was the toast of the town. Then it all went away.
In 2008, thanks in large part to the Jets’ slipshod pass defense which was ranked 29th and yielded 234.5 yards a game, Eric Mangini slapped handcuffs on Rhodes. Apparently, Mangini preferred to see Rhodes sit back and prevent touchdowns when one of his teammates got burned by a pass.
Outside of Darrelle Revis, who had a Pro-Bowl caliber season, there was little help for Rhodes in the secondary. So little in fact that in week 10 Mangini and crew recruited Ty Law off the street to replace a sinking Dwight Lowery.
With no one on the field with the talent to allow Rhodes the freedom to make plays his numbers suffered significantly in the 2008 season. Rhodes led all Jets with 81 tackles, but he had only one sack, two interceptions, five passes defenses, zero forced fumbles and two recoveries. A far cry from the level of play we had seen in the previous 2 seasons.
Now with "Bragosaurus" Rex Ryan at the helm, expect to see more of the familiar flashes of greatness Jets fans have come to know and love from Rhodes. Under Ryan, we can expect to see more "Ed Reed" like play from Kerry who has more help on the field this season in the forms of former Baltimore Raven Jim Leonhard and former Philadelphia Eagle Lito Sheppard.
Leonhard and Sheppard represent significant upgrades over the likes of Dwight Lowery and Abram Elam so the sky’s the limit for young Mr. Rhodes. When asked about Kerry Rhodes role and his expectations, head coach Ryan had little to offer but did toss out this tidbit;
"The individual claims you guys will see. Playmakers make plays, and I’m sure Kerry will end up making a lot of plays."
I’m certain he will too. Watch out because Kerry Rhodes is bound to be unleashed like a beast!
Xander Diaz is Editor-In-Chief at AFCBeast.com