The Vikings Can Achieve History…If Justin Jefferson Does His Part

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Just 318 yards. Can Justin Jefferson get to 318 receiving yards over these final three weeks? If so, he’ll have hit 1,000 for the 2023 season, thus giving the Minnesota Vikings a wonderful shot at making history.

There is a long, rich history of elite receiver player in Minnesota.

Players like Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Ahmad Rashad, Sammy White, Jake Reed, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen (among others) help to illustrate the point. Despite the history, the Vikings have never had a trio of receivers hit 1,000 yards in a single season.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

There has been no shortage of turmoil for the Vikings in 2023 — including a full seven games missed for Jefferson — but the team has a shot at getting a trio of pass catchers to the major milestone.

With Nick Mullens flinging the pigskin, the Vikings will be looking to get Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson to the notable receiving benchmark. The veteran backup QB has proven to be reasonably adept at giving his skill players a chance at making a play, so there are going to be yards to go around.

The TE1 and WR2 are getting close to 1,000; can the WR1 complete the trifecta?

The Vikings Can (Very Likely) Achieve History if Justin Jefferson Catches Fire

Under normal circumstances, the task ahead of Mr. Jefferson wouldn’t appear super challenging. Missing a full seven games and then being a partial participant in a pair of other games certainly changes the water on the purple beans, though.

And, of course, there’s the fact that Kirk Cousins is recovering from his Achilles tear (a task aided by an odd power ranking). Jefferson, alongside Addison and Hockenson, need to pursue the statistical feat while catching the ball from Mullens.

Explained: The Vikings Surprises from Victory in England
Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports.

Despite everything that has happened with the roster’s health, Minnesota has a reasonable shot at a trio of pass catchers who will hit (and maybe even exceed) the receiving mark. Take a look at where things stand:

  • T.J. Hockenson: 902 Yards.
  • Jordan Addison: 824 Yards.
  • Justin Jefferson: 682 Yards.

And, for clarity, let’s flip the numbers around. Minnesota is moving into its final three games. How many yards will each receiver need to get to 1,000? Take a peek:

  • T.J. Hockenson: 98 Yards.
  • Jordan Addison: 176 Yards.
  • Justin Jefferson: 318 Yards.
Justin Jefferson Weighs in
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Break things down even further. There are a trio of games remaining, meaning that Hockenson needs 33 yards per game, Addison needs 59 yards per game, and Jefferson needs 106 yards per game. Sounds pretty doable, right?

Of course, hitting statistical marks isn’t the ultimate goal.

The team wants to gobble up regular season wins so that Minnesota can keep playing meaningful football well into January (with a tiny glimmer of hope surrounding football in February). The crucial detail is simply that seeing those players pile up yards will almost certainly be a great strategy for getting those coveted wins. Indeed, the two goals — franchise history and the playoffs — are walking hand-in-hand. Getting the ball to Jefferson, Addison, and Hockenson is Minnesota’s best bet for putting up points and, in turn, putting up wins.

The Vikings get their shot at continuing to pursue the playoffs and history on Christmas Eve when the Lions visit U.S. Bank Stadium.

The game begins at 12 p.m. CST.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.