Has Justin Jefferson Ever Struggled So Mightily?

Has Justin Jefferson Ever Struggled So Mightily?
Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander does The Griddy after breaking up a pass intended for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Sunday was supposed to be a game of celebration for the Minnesota Vikings. Maybe they weren’t going to beat a Green Bay Packers team that was favored and needed the win more, but they should have seen their star wideout get revenge nonetheless. Then, Justin Jefferson flopped.

All week the Minnesota Vikings superstar Justin Jefferson needed to endure a mouthful from Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander. Calling his Week 1 game with 184 yards a fluke, Alexander went on a tirade of talking smack and suggesting that he would shut down Kirk Cousins’ top option.

Has Justin Jefferson Ever Struggled So Mightily?

Jefferson opted to take the high road and talked little in the media. He even censored himself to the point of deleting both his Twitter and Instagram social media accounts. Everything trended towards him handling business on the field until he didn’t.

From the get-go, Alexander followed Jefferson around the field. It took a handful of plays before Cousins even looked in the direction of 18, and then on his first deep ball, Alexander hit the star with his own signature move. From there, it was all downhill. Jefferson managed zero catches in the first half and finished with just one reception for 15 yards.

Ever Struggled So Mightily?
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Many overlooked the advice despite Minnesota imploring their players to don the 7-stud cleats for better traction at Lambeau. Jefferson was among them and fell during several points of the contest. Even had he worn the proper footwear, there’s little reason to believe he could have overcome the beatdown Alexander put on Sunday.

Now with just one game left in what should have been a historic season, and a game that he likely won’t even play in, all of the records are out the window. Jefferson isn’t catching Calvin Johnson’s single-season record, and he indeed won’t become the first wideout to hit 2,000 yards in a season. Although Tyreek Hill has faded in recent weeks, the Miami Dolphins wideout is now within striking distance for the league lead in yards and receptions, something he could take over during Week 18.

It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Jefferson has beaten the likes of Cris Carter and Randy Moss in different facets this season. He was supposed to take down a man known as Megatron. He was running away with the league lead. Waltzing into the playoffs while posting otherworldly numbers, Jefferson was supposed to do it all while dropping The Griddy into the record books.

Disappointing isn’t a fair descriptor to use for what happened Sunday. He had once tallied fewer yards this season, having only 14 against the Detroit Lions in Week 3. In a rivalry game, though, looking to shut up a defender that had talked all week, everyone expected more. I’d be willing to bet Jefferson himself expected more.

Justin Jefferson Continues
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

As they head into the playoffs and Jefferson has time to reflect on the regular season, he’ll almost certainly want to come out and separate himself from the worst performance of his career. Popping off for 133 yards against the New York Giants in a whiteout during Week 16, he’ll likely get a familiar foe for round one. Putting up that level of production will not only be needed but expected.

There’s no denying that Jefferson could claim the title of best receiver in the NFL. Everyone has off games. The problem is that Jefferson’s worst came when Minnesota needed him the most. As the Vikings have done many times this year as a team, it’s time for Jefferson to rebound individually in a big way.

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.