Vikings Leave the Game with One Silver Lining

Update Swats Away
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Back-to-back defeats are a setback for a Minnesota Vikings team in a comfortable playoff position a couple of weeks ago. The lead for a wildcard spot has shrunk to only one win entering the bye week. Even worse than losing the game was the way the team lost. The offense was lethargic for most of the day, except for one touchdown drive.

Vikings Leave the Game with One Silver Lining

Vikings Leave the Game with 1 Silver Lining
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs turned the ball over four times, and once again, the Vikings lost a football game because they failed to take care of the ball. His struggles opened the door for a quarterback controversy, the first one since Kirk Cousins arrived in 2018.

But Dobbs isn’t the only guy that had a rough night. His receivers were badly outplayed by Chicago’s secondary and didn’t make the requisite plays. A backup quarterback needs his receivers to step up even more than a starter does, and Jordan Addison and his crew couldn’t do that for the second straight week except for Brandon Powell, the most active player in the passing game.

The good news, however, is that Justin Jefferson is fully expected to return to the field when the Vikes head to Las Vegas after the bye week. After winning the first five games without the best player on the team, the Vikings have dropped two straight, and the passing attack desperately needs its most dynamic player.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Entering the season, it was obvious that Jefferson was the organization’s most important asset. Following the wins without him, folks started to wonder if he was actually as important as they thought. Then Cousins joined him on injured reserve, and the Vikes somehow won two games. But that miracle ended harshly on national television.

While Cousins is out for the season, Jefferson can return in a couple of weeks. He was reportedly close to playing in the last two contests, but the Vikings took the safe route, perhaps regrettably, after falling to the Bears. That can’t be undone, but the spark Jefferson will bring to the offense and the whole football team can’t be denied.

Hopefully, we’ll get Justin back. He was close tonight and getting him back, anytime you can infuse that into your offense, it makes everybody around him better.

Kevin O’Connell after the loss against Chicago
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Addison had some wonderful games during Jefferson’s absence, but he couldn’t complete grabs on multiple occasions throughout the last two games, which is totally excusable for any rookie. Playing against talented and physical secondaries hurt him as he was their primary focus. Once Jefferson returns, things will open up for the rookie and make his life easier. Rarely are receivers true number-one options in their debut seasons, and those two games showed that the USC product needs some more time to develop despite his phenomenal play earlier in the year.

Jefferson is not just great on the field. He is also a team captain and a leader in the locker room. His positive attitude helps the team win. On the field, he is the guy who bails the team out of tough situations. Jefferson is the go-to guy whenever a play is required, regardless of whether he’s facing double coverage.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

The fourth-year player produced 571 yards and three touchdowns in his five games this season with Cousins under center. It remains to be seen if he can continue to put up huge numbers without his passer, but it is hard to envision his numbers dropping too much. He is just too talented for that.

Jefferson is expected to return in Week 14, trying to qualify for the playoffs and helping his teams to win games going forward. Tom Pelissero, who reported that JJ wouldn’t play against the Bears, also tweeted: “Jefferson is expected to be 100% after the bye, practice fully and play Dec. 10 at Las Vegas.”

He will turn 25 in the next offseason and is looking to sign his first big-money career extension.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt