There have been a lot of reasons for the Vikings’ turnaround from a team under .500 to a team with a shot at home-field advantage for at least one week in the playoffs. However, the biggest reason that the Vikings currently sit at 10-3 is Justin Jefferson’s ascension to one of, if not the top wide receivers in the NFL. Jefferson currently leads the league in receiving yards and receptions of over 25 yards. He is currently the favorite for Offensive Player of the Year. Jefferson’s outstanding play on the field this year is being reflected in the record books.
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Jefferson sits at 1,500 receiving yards on the season at an average of 115 yards per game. If Jefferson continues this average he will come up three yards short of Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record that he set in 2012. However, Jefferson is coming off his best game of the season in the loss to the Detroit Lions, accumulating 223 yards on 11 catches. If Jefferson averages 125 yards per game over the next four games, he can not only break Calvin Johnson’s record but hit 2,000 yards receiving. This would be a huge milestone for Jefferson to hit that would go a long way in cementing his resume as the best wide receiver in the NFL.
Consistency has not been Jefferson’s hallmark this year. To go with three games over 175 yards, he also has 4 games under 50 yards. To hit 2,000 yards receiving on the year he will have to find some sort of consistency in the next four games. This will not be an easy task against two top-five pass defenses in the league, the Colts, and the Packers. However, Jefferson has more going for him than against him. If Jefferson can have repeat performances against the Packers and the Bears that he had earlier in the season, he would be well on his way to a 2,000-yard season. The Vikings’ offense is trending more and more toward the passing game as the defense has been struggling. Jefferson has been the Vikings’ only reliable source of offense as late since the run game has also struggled. All the conditions look to be right for Jefferson to eclipse the previously unreachable 2,000-yard milestone.
Jefferson’s Impact Goes Far Beyond the Field
In addition to his on-field achievements, Justin Jefferson has blossomed into one of the most marketable players in the NFL as of late. He has been featured in many ads promoting Madden and the NFL. The dance he made popular, the “griddy” has blown up on social media and has been adopted around the league and even at the youth level. In his interviews and conversations with the media you can tell that while he has the confidence needed to be an NFL star, he is also a very normal, down-to-earth person. He carries himself with a disarming type of swagger and confidence that makes him a perfect role model for kids across the world.
Vikings fans continue to be surprised week after week at what Jefferson does on the field, he has been nothing short of incredible. Even with the booming wide receiver market, Vikings fans have come to a general consensus regarding his future with the team: pay him whatever he wants. There are not many players that receive that kind of sentiment from their team’s fans. At some point, a huge contract is going to harm the team’s ability to compete in a certain area on the field. However, keeping Jefferson around has to be a priority since he only seems to be getting better and he is the most valuable player on the team. As long as Jefferson is on the field, he gives the Vikings a chance at winning the game. He is eligible for a contract extension following this season. His future is bright and his teammates and fans love him. Pay him whatever he wants, he has earned it.
Jefferson has broken many NFL and Vikings franchise records, from most receiving yards in a receiver’s first three years to the single-game franchise record for receiving yards. He is on course to break many more wide receiver records, including the possibility of putting together the first 2,000-yard receiving season. Off the field, he has been able to impact the youth, whether it be with his dance moves or his lovable personality. Justin Jefferson is a special kind of star that does not come around very often that unites Vikings fans. The NFL and its fans look forward to watching his career unfold as he continues to write his name across the history books.