Justin Jefferson Can Escape Déjà Vu

Endorses the Unthinkable
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings started with a Week 1 opponent they should have beaten. Although they came up short, Justin Jefferson put up substantial numbers, as he has consistently been known to do. Now, he must avoid a repeat of 2022 on a short week heading to Philadelphia.

Justin Jefferson Can Escape Déjà Vu

Last season, the Minnesota Vikings started with a victory against the Green Bay Packers. A Christian Watson drop early in that contest set the tone, and Kirk Cousins orchestrated a blowout win for the Vikings. Justin Jefferson racked up 184 yards in that game and beat Jaire Alexander all over the field.

Then came the Eagles.

In Week 2 last season, Jefferson put up the first of his six duds. Instead of going off for 100 yards on the day, the talented Vikings wideout recorded just 48 yards on six catches. Eagles star cornerback Darius Slay shadowed him all over the field, and Philadelphia made sure they had safety help over the top.

Can Escape
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) warms up before playing against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Feb. 12, 2023. © Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Facing the Eagles, Jefferson failed to record 50 yards for the first of what ended up being six occurrences last season. He then doubled down on the performance with just 14 yards against the Detroit Lions in Week 3. Despite Jefferson putting up league-leading production for Minnesota last season, the gaudy performances often made up for the truly terrible ones.

Playing against a very good Eagles team, the Vikings are underdogs by seven points. Pulling off the road upset will take a total team effort, and there is no one more imperative to show out on offense than Jefferson.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah brought in T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison to take defensive pressure off of Jefferson. By giving Cousins other options, the Minnesota offense can beat a team in multiple ways. The hope would be that those options show up and make a difference in games against tougher opponents. Jefferson doesn’t need to rack up double-digit receptions if he can break a big play or two when being overlooked alongside his teammates.

Kevin O’Connell will look for every avenue to avoid having the Vikings start 0-2 this season. Coming off a winnable game but winding up on the wrong side, Minnesota will need to flip the script and thrive in the underdog role. If this team wants to distance itself from the lucky narrative that surrounded them last year, winning the difficult games is a good way to do that.

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At no point will Justin Jefferson be overlooked as a wide receiver in the NFL, but the less lackluster games he can be associated with, the better. With an opportunity to get revenge against Slay and the Eagles, finding a way to hit the century mark is probably a good path to eventually securing the victory.

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.