Justin Jefferson’s Absence Is the Biggest Storyline

One Shiny Silver Lining
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In case you haven’t been watching this season, the Minnesota Vikings are not a good team. No, they aren’t horrid and won’t compete for the top pick in the draft, but they are full of faults and have very few answers. It’s only Week 6, but they are now much less interesting with Justin Jefferson hurt.

Justin Jefferson’s Absence Is the Biggest Storyline

Going into a Week 5 game against the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, the biggest storyline may have been tight end Travis Kelce and his little-known girlfriend, Taylor Swift. While she didn’t show up for the game, he definitely showed up. For Minnesota, wide receiver Justin Jefferson showed himself to the sideline. Dealing with a non-contact hamstring injury, he was on the sidelines during the game’s final possessions.

Absence Is the Biggest
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After coming up just short of truly challenging Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yardage record last season, Jefferson got out to an amazing start. He has multiple 100-yard games in the first few weeks and had already eclipsed 500 yards through four games. Despite failing to reach 100 yards for the fourth straight time in Week 4, his first true clunker came in Week 5.

Yes, Jefferson was on the receiving end of a few passes from quarterback Kirk Cousins during Week 5, and he still lasted only a brief time in the contest. Racking up just 28 yards on three receptions and six targets, he was largely held out of the contest. For a Chiefs team looking to allow their quarterback an opportunity to cook, they found a way to make that happen.

On Monday, head coach Kevin O’Connell didn’t provide a great update for Minnesota. Suggesting that Jefferson needed to work through tests and would be kept from hurrying back and harming himself, it definitely doesn’t appear that his injury is a short-term issue. Therein ends the Vikings intrigue. With Jefferson heading to IR on Tuesday, the already disappointing season gets even less interesting.

Looking at statistical data over the years, it’s pretty hard to suggest that Minnesota will bounce back and find any semblance of playoff positioning. Kirk Cousins is in the final year of his contract, and Kewsi Adofo-Mensah could plead with him to lift the no-trade clause in hopes of extracting value. The Vikings likely won’t find an opportunity to tank, but they definitely don’t have a path to relevance.

Last Order
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With Jefferson out, finding a season of statistical importance takes an even greater hit. His start put him in position to again challenge Johnson’s single-season record, but even an extra game doesn’t provide an ideal blueprint when you’re unavailable. Ideally, anyone besting Johnson’s mark would blow by it so that there isn’t the argument of an extra game being included in the season. The Lions superstar racked up his yardage for a bad Detroit team, and Jefferson could have done so while negotiating his next contract. Now, it seems much less likely.

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There’s no denying that Jefferson is among the best wideouts in the league, and he has routinely shown that this season, but his lack of presence for Minnesota takes even less excitement out of an already dull season.

The hope would be that Jefferson doesn’t miss significant time, but he’s guaranteed to be out for four weeks now, and it may be longer.

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.