In one game, the Minnesota Vikings talented wide receiver put the entirety of the National Football League on watch. He was already off to a great start for his young career, but a new scheme could unleash something unlike we’ve ever seen before.
Coming into Sunday afternoon’s game against the Green Bay Packers, Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had plenty of hype. His first two years in the NFL have been unmatched, and he was viewed as the favorite to lead the league in receiving yards this season. New head coach Kevin O’Connell is no stranger to feeding a wide receiver the ball. After doing so with Cooper Kupp in Los Angeles, it only made sense for O’Connell to salivate at the thought of utilizing Jefferson.
Against a divisional rival, although not one employing a top defense, O’Connell drew up many plays that had Jefferson breaking out. He finished the game with 11 targets, nine receptions, 184 yards, and two touchdowns. As the season continues, that number will only grow, and whether the opposition shadows him or not, it seems there’s simply no slowing him down.
Despite the level of caution Jefferson brings for opposing defenses, he was wide open multiple times on Sunday. Kirk Cousins looked incredibly in sync with the entirety of his offense, and that translated to eight different players being targeted. It wasn’t as though Adam Thielen or Dalvin Cook weren’t involved. Minnesota had a gameplan that routinely allowed them to pick apart Green Bay through the air.
On the road in Philadelphia will be a tough test from a circumstance perspective, but Minnesota just wallopped one of the best teams they’ll see all year. No matter how much the opposition knows that the Vikings want to get Jefferson involved, early returns should suggest they won’t be easily stopped in their pursuits of doing so.
Last season, Kupp put up 1,947 yards on 145 receptions. He did top Jefferson this weekend, hauling in 13 against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night, but his yardage still lagged. As the weeks go by, there should be a reasonable expectation that Jefferson will be given all the targets he can handle, and with as dynamic of a playmaker as he is, the results should be noteworthy.
Buckle up. You thought he was good before. Wait for this version of Jefferson to be unleashed.
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.