Justin Jefferson Is All That Matters in Week 18

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The Minnesota Vikings’ season essentially ended against the Green Bay Packers when they dribbled an opportunity down their leg at home on national television. With that out of the way, the focal point in Week 18 should be none other than Justin Jefferson.

Justin Jefferson Is All That Matters in Week 18

The goal should be to have Justin Jefferson as involved as possible on a weekly basis. At no point may that be more integral than Week 18. Facing a Detroit Lions team that beat Minnesota two weeks ago and will again play their starters, individual performance for Jefferson is of the utmost importance.

all that matters
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After missing significant time this season due to a hamstring injury, Jefferson returned with a new goal in mind. While it wasn’t realistic to reach 2,000 yards or lead the league in receiving again, he could make it a fourth straight year with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Jefferson has largely avoided the quarterback issues, but he was impacted in a big way against Green Bay.

Understandably frustrated by passes coming from both Jaren Hall and Nick Mullens, Jefferson could only haul in five of his ten targets. The receptions resulted in a modest 59-yard performance, and plenty of production was left on the table. Needing 118 yards to reach 1,000 on the season, force-feeding him as much action as he can handle should be a focal point.

Vikings Make Final Call
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Head coach Kevin O’Connell has another quarterback change to deal with in a season littered with them. The Vikings have cycled out signal callers at a breakneck pace, with none showing consistent competency. The likelihood of changes in the season’s final week isn’t high, but volume should allow for Jefferson to at least feel as though he has a chance.

Going into the offseason, there is substantial uncertainty at the quarterback position. Kirk Cousins would need a new contract, and none of the backups appear to be a realistic answer. A first-round pick could be utilized on the position in a deep draft among quarterbacks, but that player would likely need to be eased in as well.

Jefferson finds himself ready and waiting for a big payday that was discussed before this season, but he also knows that his results are impacted by lackluster play from whoever is throwing him the ball. It stands to reason that Minnesota would get their superstar wide receiver involved when deciding on the future under center, and that may go a long way toward sorting out the eventual dollars on his new agreement.

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It remains logical that the Vikings would like to win their final game, drawing a season split with Detroit, but that seems unlikely. If they aren’t going to emerge victorious, making sure Jefferson feels he had a shot at reaching his goal and hopefully vaulting him past it is the bar to clear. An offseason of frustration from the most talented wide receiver in the NFL isn’t going to do anyone in Minnesota favors, and at least individual success can be parlayed into good feelings going into next year.

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.