Former Vikings, Packers WR Thinks Jefferson Is Capable of Making History
Wide receiver Greg Jennings played for the Green Bay Packers in his first seven seasons before he signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. He had two solid seasons in Minnesota, as he registered 1,546 receiving yards and ten touchdowns.
He’s now part of the33rdteam.com, a website of former players, coaches, and executives talking about the NFL. Former Vikings Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman are also contributing there.
He started by saying, “I don’t think there will be a 2000-yard receiver in the NFL this season.”
That, by itself, isn’t noticeable by any means, as it never happened before and therefore wouldn’t be surprising if it won’t happen. Jennings’ career high was 1,292 yards in 2008.
He knows how hard it is to rack up yards and continued by saying, “It’s just a feat that is so challenging and daunting. There are a lot of things that are in play for a receiver actually achieving something like that.”
To reach 2,000 yards, a receiver would need roughly 118 yards per game — an absolutely insane number. The only one who did that in a full season in recent history was Calvin Johnson Jr. The former Lions receiver put up 1,964 yards in 2012, an average of 122.8. For comparison, Cooper Kupp put up 114.5 yards per game during his great 2021 campaign. He was still 53 yards shy.
But why is it so hard? Jennings answered, “There’s health, and there’s availability. There’s opportunity. What will the defense provide or take away as far as your skillset? As an individual, it’s tough.”
A player has to stay healthy for the full season and be available in every game. A missed game because of a minor injury or an illness costs the receiver the chance to get 2,000 yards. Opportunity is also essential. The offense has to feature the wideout, and the quarterback has to throw it. Matthew Stafford, for example, features his top wideout a lot. He was responsible for Johnson’s and Kupp’s great seasons. Play caller McVay, meanwhile, drew up the right plays to get Kupp involved. There’s the opportunity Jennings talked about.
The one player the former Vikings and Packers receiver could see cracking the 2,000 yards — is Justin Jefferson.
“But if there was a receiver that was to eclipse that 2,000-yard season, I do believe it would be a player like Justin Jefferson,” Jennings said. “He is so electric when he gets the ball in his hands. He’s such a deep threat, and he catches almost anything and everything you throw in his direction.”
Jefferson has what it takes in Jennings’ mind. Health and availability was his first point, and Jefferson never missed a game in the NFL. However, injuries can happen to anyone at any time, but the dynamic Viking has shown that he can stay on the field. He certainly has ‘opportunity.’ Jefferson led the league throughout the last two seasons combined with 3,016.
His targets ranked him fourth in that span, just two behind the second. Kupp ranked first by a mile, and his former offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell is drawing up plays for ‘JJ’ now.
And his skillset is flawless. There’s no weakness in his game. He can catch the short passes and go deep. In the intermediate distance, Jefferson is a monster as well. In addition to that, he can win inside and outside. He’s elite before the catch and after the catch. It’s tough for defenses to do anything against him. Teams have to double cover him, but he can still put up numbers against any defense.
“That is what it would have to take — a big-play individual, someone that can break away on the short pass and get behind the defenders on a deep pass. It would have to be a receiver that is a true focal point of what you’re trying to get done offensively.”
Jefferson fits that description perfectly, as he can do all of those things. The Vikings’ offense could be more pass-happy, and Jefferson could even be a bigger focal point for the offense. His connection with Kirk Cousins is already special. The scary part is that Jefferson might not even be at his ceiling.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt