Kerry Rhodes Heading to the Bench

Big changes coming for Jets defense

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    There was a lot of chatter this offseason that Kerry Rhodes would benefit from Rex Ryan's arrival on the Jets sideline. Ed Reed became the best safety in the NFL under Ryan, so it wasn't too big a leap to suggest that Rhodes, a highly productive player, would do well playing for such a keen leader.

    It hasn't worked out that way. All season, Rhodes has struggled as a tackler and he had his worst afternoon of the season in New England on Sunday. He got run over time and again while trying to make tackles, his terrible technique doesn't help, and also offered nothing in coverage as Wes Welker shredded the team for 15 catches and 192 yards. That's all added up to his benching, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.

    There's some humor, dark humor to be sure, in the fact that Rhodes is getting benched while the city is hotly debating whether or not Mark Sanchez should be heading for the hills. Sanchez's problems have so dominated the headlines that other scuffling players are usually left unnoticed by the hordes. Rhodes has been the prime beneficiary of that, because he's been bad a lot more often than he's been good this season, but now it seems he'll be watching while Sanchez keeps on playing.

    Eric Smith will take Rhodes's place and he's not a long-term solution to the problem. He's a good tackler and a good special teams guy, but he doesn't have the playmaking skills that Rhodes flashed so often in past seasons. Since Rhodes signed a five-year deal in April 2008, it would be in the team's best interest to find a way to get him going again. Benching him for a week or two and seeing how he responds is a decent approach to doing that, because if he doesn't they'll need to find someone who can in the offseason.

    This is probably just the first change we'll see as the Jets work their way to the end of the season, and it's heartening to see them use it as an extended evaluation period instead of ignoring the realities that come with a 4-6 record.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.