November 14, 2021; Englewood, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Compulsory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA Today Sports.
After two seasons in the league, Justin Jefferson is undoubtedly one of the best wide receivers around.
Drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 22nd pick of the 2020 NFL draft, Jefferson was the only 5th wide receiver to be taken into the draft and he entered the league with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove. It was great for the Vikings as Jefferson proved himself in his first two seasons at Minnesota. Now, the question is could Justin Jefferson be even bigger in 3?
After his rookie year with record-breaking stats exploded on the scene, breaking the Rookie Receiving Yard record with 1400 yards in his first season, he caught 88 of 125 targets for those 1400 yards (15.9 yards per reception and seven touchdowns). Year 2 was inevitable with a severe recession, which often occurs when there is no element of surprise and teams have a season to learn how to plan for one player. Many speculated that it would be difficult for Jefferson to repeat his first season. I thought going over 1000 yards again would be a great achievement.
Justin Jefferson had other ideas, and not only did his second rookie season equal, he surpassed it, with 167 targets for 1616 yards at 108 per reception at 15 yards and 10 touchdowns on the roster as the undisputed WR1 and its main threat Vikings offense. Jefferson was able to get better and cement his reputation as a superstar in the National Football League.
Going into the 2022 season, the Vikings have a new offensive-minded head coach and an expected new vision of throwing more balls. So, could Justin Jefferson be even bigger in 3 years? It is certainly possible.
Kevin O’Connell and new attacking coordinator Wes Phillips were involved in getting the Cooper Coupe near 2000 regular-season yards last season. Can they do the same for Jefferson? It’s not a huge jump to where he’s already.
Whatever your opinion of the Vikings offense during Mike Zimmer’s tenure – when it worked, it was explosive – so why Jefferson has 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns to show off his first two seasons in the league. However, there were times when the offense was completely stagnant, especially when the Vikings had trouble running the ball, which was the basis for Zimmer’s teams to commit crimes. The Vikings are packed full of crime talent. All Kevin O’Connell needs to do is get the best out of it on a more consistent basis.
Shortly after O’Connell arrived in Minnesota, he told Jefferson to use him as “Cooper Coupe.”
Jefferson doesn’t need to be turned into a Cooper coupe, and I don’t believe O’Connell got it. If he had studied the tapes, he would have seen long stretched games where the Vikings’ offense could go nowhere or their star could not get the ball wide-out – Jefferson has no fault of his own, poor offensive line play, Kirk cousins are constantly under pressure, and An offensive coordinator who didn’t seem to have an answer had a problem.
Allowing opponents to keep Jefferson calm is something that can’t happen. Constantly getting the ball to Cooper Cooper was what the Rams did well last season and what the Vikings had to do with Jefferson. She has the skills to do it, and we’ve seen it. Whether he’s out or in the slot, Jefferson can beat his guy on short or long routes, and we’ve even got him hinting at coming from the backfield.
He has a great support cast around him, including Adam Thiellen, KJ Osborne, Irv Smith, Ihmir Smith-Marcet and Dalvin Cook, who can be in line to get more involved if the initial hints of training camp can do anything. Passing games, there will be more for opposing teams to think about than just Justin Jefferson, but he will lead the way for the Vikings.
He fell 17 yards less than Randy Moss ‘Vikings’ yard record in one season last year. You can bet he’ll have his eye again this season. I wouldn’t bet against it that it would be achieved and actually grow in 3 years.