Forget Wins and Losses, Jefferson Can Win OROY
Many jottings in the Vikings universe now focus on “reasons to get excited” about the
remainder of the 2020 season. Minnesota has just one win this season, so attention spans no
longer focus solely on winning.
Because it would take a gargantuan winning streak, and would essentially bankrupt the gamble Colorado website industry, for Minnesota to merely get close to a low-tier playoff position. This Vikings bunch got smoked by the Colts and Falcons in performances that undeniably proved that they belong nowhere near playoff football.
Ergo, fans are left to study the progression of young players, speculate [often absurd] trade
scenarios, and determine the long-term outlooks on the coaches and general manager.
Twitter is a wonderful spot for the latter two subjects – “trade this guy” scenarios for every
rostered player can be plucked from the social media app. What’s more, the “Fire Spielman
and Zimmer” noise is deafening in some rabbit holes.
Universally, though, the ascension to stardom by Justin Jefferson is heralded. Jefferson is
what brings VikingsVille together. Through two weeks of the season, the 21-year-old was
oddly uninvolved in the Vikings offense. It appeared that the LSU alumnus was a
run-of-the-mill rookie that might chip in 400-or-so yards during his first campaign. Beginning in
Week 3 versus the Titans, Jefferson changed the narrative. He spanked the Titans secondary
amid a breakout game, although the Vikings fell in a close game to Tennessee.
From that moment, Jefferson has towed the company line for prolific Vikings offensive
rookies, chiefly Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson, and Percy Harvin. The young wideout has the
flair and substance to belong in conversations with those men, even if the Vikings 2020
season has begun molding.
The utopian vision is that Jefferson can snag an Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He can,
indeed, do just that, and here’s how.
The Odell Beckham Path
The last wide receiver to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors was Odell Beckham
– in 2014. He captivated the league in his first season while topping Teddy Bridgewater and
Mike Evans for the OROY award. In 12 games, Beckham accrued 1305 receiving yards and
12 touchdowns. He was the first member of the New York Giants to win the OROY accolades.
If Justin Jefferson remains healthy, he is on pace to tabulate 1,432 receiving yards. This
would exceed Beckham’s raw total, although the now-Cleveland Browns receiver racked up
more yardage per game. Beckham’s touchdown pace was stratospheric; Jefferson could
close the gap if he remains a frequent target of the oft-scrutinized Kirk Cousins in the team’s
10 remaining games.
All in all, though, Jefferson is on a Beckham-esque path. Hell, both men attended LSU and
entered the big leagues on teams that floundered. The 2014 New York Giants finished the season with a 6-10 record, one the Vikings may reach if the franchise wins half of its
remaining games this season.
Moral of the story: Jefferson does not necessarily need to participate in the playoffs to win the
A Signature “Moment” Could Help
Think of this like the Heisman Trophy chase. The aforementioned Beckham was severely
aided in 2014 by his insane grab on Monday Night Football versus the hated Dallas Cowboys.
His team was engaged in primetime battle with its most famous foe, and Beckham tantalized
the globe with a one-handed grab.
Jefferson scripted a terrific catch-and-run during Week 3 against the Titans, but it was not
quite on par with Beckham’s theatrics. Perhaps if it occurred in a primetime game with the
Packers, it might have tipped the Richter’s scale.
A “moment” is not a requirement for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but it would absolutely
sweeten the deal. If you’re looking for something to cheer for each week in the event the
Vikings continue to lose games, this is it – a Jefferson Moment.
Need a Justin Herbert slow-down
Easier said than done.
Justin Herbert was given his first start via mysterious and bizarre circumstances. Starting
quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s lung was punctured – by his trainer – and The Herbert Era was
underway. Since that horror movie-like incident, Herbert has notched 12 touchdowns to just
three interceptions with a 108.1 passer rating. That is bonafide OROY stuff.
Herbert must “struggle” down the stretch for Jefferson to catch his candidacy for OROY.
Herbert’s wicked-good passer rating ensures the Chargers will win ballgames, so he will need
to play mediocre at times if Jefferson wants a crack at the year-end honors. What’s more,
Herbert and Jefferson must keep Bengals signal-caller, Joe Burrow, at bay. The Bengals are
upside down in the win-loss column, and that does not help Burrow’s chances. Compared to
Herbert, his 89.4 passer rating is pedestrian.
Justin Jefferson must simply keep up his pace through the next 10 games. He isn’t required to
be better by leaps and bounds because he has been damn good already. If he keeps his current pace and Justin Herbert stumbles a bit, Jefferson has a realistic possibility of nabbing
the illustrious rookie trophy as did Moss, Peterson, and Harvin.