Between the end of one season and the start of the next, there’s always a bunch of content in the media with strange opinions to fill the time. However, no piece of content was ever so wrong about a certain thing, objectively proven by numbers and subjectively by everyone’s opinion.
First, let’s talk about what happened in the first place. Former NFL running back and current analyst at NFL Network, Maurice Jones-Drew put together a list of the top 10 QB-pass catcher duos in 2022.
Vikings fans should expect their duo of Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins on the list, but he somehow snubbed them.
Which Duos Made the List?
Number one is Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. The two young stars played together with Jefferson at LSU and certainly deserved a spot on the list, possibly even the top spot. Chase set the record for most receiving yards in a rookie season with 1,455 and the single game rookie record of 266 yards, and Burrow obviously threw him the ball. They have insane talent, production, and a connection.
Second on the list is the combination of the Bills, Josh Allen, and Stefon Diggs. The two instantly formed a great connection, and Diggs led the league in receiving yards in 2020. One year later, however, the production dipped, and Diggs was just 8th. In the last two seasons combined, since the two play together, Diggs ranks fourth. No matter the numbers, Diggs is an elite receiver and Allen an elite quarterback.
Third on the list are Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford. Coming off a Super Bowl victory and winning the triple crown, Kupp is somehow, by some, not viewed as an elite receiver. The duo is phenomenal and is putting up big numbers.
Fourth are Derek Carr and Davante Adams. Carr threw his last pass to Adams in December of 2013. While it’s plausible that the two will be a great passer-receiver combination, the opposite could be true. Adams caught a lot of passes because of a great bond between him and Aaron Rodgers, and it’s unknown if Carr and Adams have the same connection.
The next duo is Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes. Obviously, they are great. However, the question could be asked if the headline is phrased the way it is just because Mahomes had to be on the list.
Tom Brady and Mike Evans follow them. They have the touchdowns to show for but lack yardage compared to Jefferson, as JJ had roughly 1,000 more yards in the last two seasons.
The next pair of teammates should irritate Vikings fans. Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb made it over Cousins and Jefferson. Cousins and Prescott actually have similar numbers, but Jefferson is undoubtedly better than Lamb. And I’m sure even Cowboys fans would agree.
Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen rank 8th. Allen deserves more respect. He’s one of the best receivers of the last decade and was never treated like one, probably because he’s not flashy, but his fundamentals are great. However, in the previous two seasons, Jefferson gained about 900 more yards and three more touchdowns than the veteran. He’s also 30 years old and is not getting any younger.
Next on the list are Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Another strange pairing, as Hopkins will be suspended for the first six games of 2022 and therefore should not be a factor on that list. Jefferson had exactly 15 yards per game more in the last two seasons. Hopkins also missed seven games in 2021.
The final duo on the list is somehow Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas. Thomas didn’t play football last season and had 438 yards in 2020. The only time the two played together was for half a game in 2020 after Brees injured his thumb.
Why the Vikings Duo Belongs on the List
The easy answer is that Cousins and Jefferson have a great connection. Jefferson is leading the league in receiving yards since he entered the league in 2020. His 3,016 yards are the most of any player in NFL history in the first two campaigns. And the wide receiver surely didn’t throw the ball to himself.
Mannion started one game in 2021, and Jefferson finished the day with 58 yards. Even without those 58 yards, Jefferson is still leading the league in receiving yards in the last two seasons. Adams, Kupp, Kelce, and Diggs are the only four players that come within 500 yards. Allen, Lamb, Hopkins, and Evans are almost 1,000 yards shy, while Thomas is almost 2,600 yards short. From a statistical standpoint, that snub doesn’t make any sense.
Jones-Drew is projecting the future. There’s absolutely no reason why the two can’t continue their strong connection in the next season. The new playbook of Kevin O’Connell is even more pass friendly. He was part of the coaching staff that made Kupp win the triple crown with the Rams. Both looked extremely sharp in training camp, and the numbers could increase.
The next talking point is the talent of the two players. Jefferson is considered an elite receiver by most and ranks almost everywhere inside the top 5. Cousins is a big point of discussion. However, no one ever questioned his ability to rack up big yards. Since he became a starter in 2015, Cousins ranked outside of the top 10 in terms of passing yards just once in 2019.
In the comments on Twitter, ‘MJD’ explained.
Neither the Saints nor the Chargers made the playoffs but made their appearance on the list. An admirable attempt to explain why he snubbed the Vikings duo, but it didn’t really work. He’s clearly using different standards for some pairings than others.
They don’t have to be at the top of the list, but the fact that he snubbed the Vikings duo entirely, is egregious. The only chance to prove MJD and other haters wrong is by continuing the high-level production. The campaign starts against a strong Packers defense on September 11th.
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