Thursday, December 10, 2009

Angry Kerry Rhodes Yells at Coach in Practice

According to Rich Cimini of the Daily News, the Kerry Rhodes saga has taken a new turn.

Rhodes, who apparently has regained his starting job after two games coming off the bench, admitted to reporters today that he yelled at secondary coach Dennis Thurman in practice. Clearly, Rhodes, who initially was miffed by the demotion, is irked by the uncertainty surrounding his role.

Rex Ryan is playing it coy, refusing to say that Rhodes has regained his starting job. But Rhodes is saying he has been told he'll be back with the starters. But, in practice, he apparently has been rotating with Eric Smith, leading to today's heated moment.

If you remember last week, Rhodes said that he would get his job back if he did just one thing: have a sit-down with defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman. That happened last Tuesday, and Rhodes played a lot on Thursday in the base defense, as early as the 2nd quarter, giving the appearance he had his job back.

But practice apparently was a pretty even split between he and Eric Smith, leading to Rhodes's pouting. So is he the starter? And does it really matter?

"Go ahead and name him the starter, if you want. I don't care," Rex Ryan seethed yesterday. "...We should be more concerned with the team than the individual. The guy who runs out there, he's starting. If Kerry feels better about him, I'll start him. If he'll feel better about it, go ahead, run out there, you're starting. Take Marques Douglas with you. I don't care. We're going to play. All our guys play, okay?"

Ryan is sick of talking about his unhappy safety. So what are Rhodes's thoughts on his head coach now?

"Hmm, let's see how I can characterize it," he said, followed by a pause. "I still like Rex. Yeah, I still like Rex."

The pause says a lot. Earlier on in the year, he never would have said anything. Then again, early on in the year, people expected him to make plays. His inability to do that led to his benching.

But let's not throw Rhodes's play completely under the bus. While he wasn't forcing turnovers early in the season, he was still showing good range, defending passes, and making tackles. Right before the Dolphins scored the GW TD with Brown in the MNF game, it was Rhodes making a great tackle in the backfield to keep the Jets alive.

The problem is that Rhodes makes $33.5 million dollars: money that a Pro Bowl-caliber safety should make. And he simply hasn't played that way this year, or even last year. Not to mention, you could make the case he's been the third best safety on the team this year. He's certainly the 3rd best hitter, behind his replacement Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard.

Smith is a good player who the Jets want to get on the field, which is part of the reason playing Rhodes more is a problem. The Jets owe Rhodes a lot of money, so they want to get as much back from that investment as possible. But he has to produce, and until that happens, this soap opera won't end until he's a goner.

By the way, here's Rhodes's response to the story, direct from Twitter.

"Wow NY is off da chain! I had a talk with my DB coach now its an altercation!! Lol wat else?"

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