Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kerry Rhodes Benched for Eric Smith

Jay Glazer reports that Jets players are telling him that the team is benching safety Kerry Rhodes this week in favor of Eric Smith. Smith almost got the start last week in favor of the injured Jim Leonhard, but Leonhard gutted it out and tackled more soundly with one arm than Rhodes did with two.

Rhodes has talked a big game for years, and he has a $33.5 million dollar contract from two seasons ago to back it up. Unfortunately, that hasn't manifested itself on the field. He's 6-2, 215 and athletic, but he hasn't made a single big play all season. He's been outplayed by Leonhard and hasn't lived up to either his mouth or his contract.

Smith was almost cut by Ryan when he arrived, but he worked his way into becoming a Ryan favorite, buoyed by a strong performance in minicamp. It's unlikely that he holds onto the job for the rest of the year, but if he plays well, who knows?

This team needed to have a message sent to it. While they haven't quit, there are a number of players on the team who are self-promoters, with Rhodes being the primary one. The defense is still a playmaker or two away from being great. Rhodes has the ability to be that playmaker, but he hasn't shown it in a while. It's unfair to Ed Reed to use that comparison anymore because Rhodes hasn't been involved in a sack or turnover all year, and he only had 1 sack and 2 interceptions last season.

Whether it's because of "Hollywood's" off-field interests or certain on-field factors, Rhodes has been a relative non-factor for two seasons now under two different coaching staffs. Last year, Rhodes threw Eric Mangini under the bus for keeping him in deep help too often. This year, Rhodes said he would make more plays, but he has yet to make a single difference-making play. If benching him sends a message to him that he needs to work harder, or if it makes a difference in any way, it's a good move.

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