You Know It’s the Offseason When JJettas Dominance Is Refuted

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Justin Jefferson has been the most productive player to start his career from a yards standpoint in NFL history. He has set records for the most yards in each of a player’s first two, three, and four seasons. Jefferson also holds the record for most yards before turning 24 or 25. But for some reason, there is still doubt about his greatness.

You Know It’s the Offseason When JJettas Dominance Is Refuted

You Know It's the Offseason When JJettas Dominance Is Refuted
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Every offseason, that same talker begins. Some media members claim their guy is better than Jefferson. They never compare them to other players, and the reason why is obvious: Jefferson is simply the best in the business. That’s why Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow are compared to Patrick Mahomes. They want to show how their favorite player is the best.

But they all fail. Just last year, a Packers writer had the outrageous opinion that Christian Watson had a higher ceiling than Jefferson. That came after Jefferson posted the sixth-best season in terms of receiving yards in NFL history.

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ESPN’s Ryan Clark said George Pickens was more talented than Jefferson. Even after multiple attempts to clarify his meaning, it didn’t make him look any better. Pat McAfee’s absurd assertion that Jefferson was only good because defenses focused on Dalvin Cook was rightfully denied by literally anyone who has ever watched the Vikes play football.

It’s like clockwork. The offseason arrives, and folks begin to compare a receiver to the best in the league. All those guys can play, and Ja’Marr Chase and A.J. Brown certainly came close, but none of them is on pace to be an all-time great.

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The latest of those gaffes came from a media personality from division rivals Detroit. Neal Ruhl from Woodward Sports had quite a biased take about Amon-Ra St. Brown:

This is also a factual statement. Amon-Ra St. Brown at this point in his career is further ahead of almost any wide receiver ever. Ever. This Justin Jefferson that you all love and worship, he’s further along at this point in his career. Look at the numbers. Look at the numbers. That’s what I’m talking about–The numbers. Look at them.

That depends on your flavor {After his co-host named some of Jefferson’s achievements[. Amon-Ra St. Brown gets overlooked because he doesn’t catch the 60-yard deep ball. That’s why. That’s the only reason why. It’s not that he’s an inferior receiver, he is not. It’s the nature of his game and the nature of what he’s asked to do in the offense and he does it as good as anybody in the NFL.

I’ll back that up: Could Justin Jefferson do St. Brown’s role as well as St. Brown? Of course not. But that’s what you see on the highlight shows. You see Justin Jefferson in the jump-ball situation. You see that so you’re reprogrammed to think that. You’re automatically conditioned to say Amon-Ra St. Brown isn’t as dynamic as Justin Jefferson but when you put it all back together, every bit of the production is there.

The problem is the production isn’t there. St. Brown just produced a season with 1,515 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was named first-team All-Pro and made the trip to his second Pro Bowl as a replacement. Without any doubt, he had a wonderful season and is one of the best receivers in the NFL. The Vikings also struggled to stop him in their head-to-head matchups.

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However, after looking at the numbers as Ruhl requested, Jefferson had already had two seasons with more yards at that point in his career. His third season, 2022, also notched him his third Pro Bowl nomination, and he was named first-team All-Pro, but he also led the league in receptions and yards while also earning Offensive Player of the Year honors. He casually had 294 more yards in his third year than St. Brown’s third and best campaign.

Even after adding three playoff games, he had a lower yardage total than Jefferson despite catching more passes. The Viking is roughly four months older, so looking for age-related statistics doesn’t change anything.

One thing that might be true is that they play a different role. While Jefferson has shown the ability to be a safety blanket, he thrives as a target on medium throws and a deep threat. Contested catches are a no-brainer to be caught. St. Brown, meanwhile, excels in short-yardage situations, which is highlighted by his yards per catch number of only 12.7. In his two previous seasons, he posted 10.1 and 11.0 yards per catch. Over his career, he has a low 11.4 yards per reception. Jefferson’s average is 15.0.

Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is tackled by Green Bay Packers safety Jonathan Owens during the second half at Ford Field in Detroit on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023.

So maybe he is better at those short-yardage plays. But the much more valuable skill is to be a game-changer like Jefferson, especially when the total numbers tower over his competitor’s numbers.

It is also quite funny that the claim appeared after one guy had a career season, and the other was hurt. Jefferson is not to blame for his injury, but the best ability is still availability. However, in the ten games he played (and he played a couple of them only partially), Jefferson had more yards per game than St. Brown in his career-best season.

The one number in which St. Brown has the advantage is the number of touchdowns in the third season of his career. St. Brown had 10, Jefferson only 8. But: Jefferson accumulated more scores over his first three seasons than his foe in his first three.

Mullens Not
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St. Brown is a phenomenal player and deserved every accolade he received in 2023. He helps his team as a receiver and is an excellent run blocker. It is also expected that Lions fans overvalue their star player, and the general media and casual fans probably underrate him. A comparison with most other players is totally fair. But to claim that the numbers would prove his superiority over Jefferson is quite amusing because they aren’t close.

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