Is a Bounce Back in Store for Justin Jefferson?

Is a Bounce Back in Store for Justin Jefferson?
Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Justin Jefferson has played 10 games for the Minnesota Vikings this season. He has recorded triple-digits in six of those 10 games and was just two yards shy in another. Coming off a blunder last weekend, Kevin O’Connell has to be looking for an opportunity to bounce back.

The Vikings have watched Justin Jefferson light up defenders all season long. He was trending towards the first 2,000-yard season in NFL history and was looking to knock off Detroit Lions legend Calvin Johnson. Then the Dallas Cowboys ran Kirk Cousins ragged, and Jefferson tallied just 33 yards on three receptions.

Earlier this season, O’Connell somehow forgot he had the best wide receiver in the NFL on his team. After Jefferson nearly topped 200 yards against the hapless Green Bay Packers, he was taken out of the gameplan almost entirely for the next two weeks. The Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions did provide safety help in hopes of slowing him, but just six targets against a mediocre divisional foe in Week 3 was truly unacceptable.

Justin Jefferson Lays Out 2022 Endgame
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

There wasn’t much to be pinned on Jefferson during the loss to Dallas last week. Minnesota’s offensive line gave Cousins zero ability to work in the pocket, and he was constantly under pressure. Unfortunately, O’Connell failed to make adjustments throughout the game, and routes being run by Jefferson had little opportunity to develop. Knowing that Minnesota will be in a similar position offensively against a good Patriots pass rush, a better foot forward must be in the cards.

In each of his three seasons in the NFL, Jefferson has averaged at least 15 yards per reception. That takes place throughout a full schedule. In Week 12 against the Patriots, a Vikings passing attack featuring quick hitters should be focused on getting Jefferson the ball in space. Rather than exploiting defenses deep, Minnesota may need to find ways to allow Jefferson to generate yards after the catch. Cousins will likely be under duress early and often, but Jefferson’s dynamic playmaking ability isn’t limited to long passing plays.

Purple Rumor Mill: Jefferson and 2K, Coach of the Year, Adam Thielen Status
Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin JeffersonMandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings can hope to control gameflow by managing time of possession, but they should also be looking to each of their offensive playmakers with the idea that Cousins needs help. Jefferson needs to re-establish himself in the passing game after the group as a whole was phased out last week. Another 100-yard game can be in the cards if things are schemed correctly, and Jefferson would undoubtedly love a chance to do it against legendary ball coach Bill Belichick.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.