The Cardinals have stumbled their way to a 4-9 record playing a brand of football filled with offensive and defensive ineptitude as well as a propensity to give the ball away to the other team and seemingly finding ways to lose games that they should have won. But a couple of players have been a a bright spot in the dark and cloudy day that has been the 2010 Cardinals Season, and one of those bright spots has been Kerry Rhodes.
Following the mass exodus of players after the 2009 Season that included Kurt Warner, Karlos Dansby, Anquan Boldin, and Antrel Rolle, Rhodes was one of the players who was picked up to help fill the gap. The Cardinals traded a 4th Round Pick in the 2010 Draft and a 7th Round Pick in the 2011 Draft to get Rhodes from the New York Jets after he fell into Rex Ryan's doghouse where he even lost his starting spot before a game against the Carolina Panthers. Many of us were happy about the Rhodes trade when it happened because he played well in his time with the Jets where he put up 417 Tackles, 15 Interceptions, and 9 Sacks, stats that were comparable to the 337 Tackles, 13 Interceptions (4 Touchdowns), and 1.5 Sacks that Rolle put up since they both came into the NFL in 2005. The pairing of Rhodes and All-Pro Safety Adrian Wilson was also expected to be one of the strong points of the Defense.
As 2010 has gone on, Adrian Wilson has not played as well as he did in 2009 (still having a decent year with 74 Tackles, 2 Sacks, and 2 Picks), and several of the big name players on the Cardinals Defense like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, and Joey Porter have not lived up to the expectations they had before the season began. But Kerry Rhodes is having one of his best seasons of his career during his first season in Arizona. One of his best games of the Season even came last Sunday against the Broncos where he had 4 Tackles, a Pick, a Pass Deflection, and he recovered a Fumble. He also had 7 Tackles, a Pick, 2 Pass Deflections, and a Sack the week before against the Rams.
Right now, Rhodes has 74 Tackles, 1 Sack, 4 Interceptions (for an NFL leading 174 yards), 11 Pass Deflections, a Blocked Field Goal, and he has returned 2 Fumbles for Touchdowns (also leads the NFL). If you want to compare the two, Rolle has 71 Tackles, 1/2 a Sack, 1 Pick, and 3 Pass Deflections. Rhodes has outplayed Rolle this year, yet Rolle is the one who leads the NFC in Pro Bowl voting for Free Safeties (probably because he is playing in New York now) and Rhodes isn't even in the Top 5 for some inexplicable reason. You can say that Rolle is playing on a Defense that as a whole is much better than the one in Arizona right now (and the Giants do have a very good Defense), but Rhodes is still having an outstanding season that isn't really being noticed (Unless you are a Fantasy Football player) because of the struggles that the Cardinals have gone through this season.
At this time, Rhodes is probably the Defensive MVP for the Cardinals, and he has been their biggest playmaker on Defense this season. It seems like he is always around the ball, and when he gets the ball into his hands he can provide the big returns that some people here were worried about losing with the loss of Rolle. Rhodes has also been good with the fans and if anyone here tries to start talking with him or congratulating him after a good game on Twitter he will usually respond (I also got his Autograph when I was at Training Camp over the summer). For a guy who was criticized for being soft during his time in New York, and wanting a career in Hollywood after he retired those certainly haven't been issues since he came here.
Again, even though this has been a disappointing season for the Cardinals as a whole after many of us thought the Defense would be good enough to carry this team with some of the solid new players, and the Offense would be good enough to at least manage the game and get the Cardinals somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7 when the season ended, Rhodes has played well enough to provide some optimism for the Defense next season.
And lets not forget some of the other players on the team who are having good years. Rookies Daryl Washington and Dan Williams have played well, Greg Toler has been good for most of the season in his first year as a starter, Michael Adams has played very well over the last couple of weeks, Paris Lenon has been solid. LaRod Stephens-Howling is also having a Pro Bowl worthy season, Jay Feely is having a good year, and even though Larry Fitzgerald isn't having one of his best seasons he is still on pace for a 1,000 Yard season.