Four games into the 2022-23 NFL season, Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver Justin Jefferson has gotten plenty of attention from fans and defensive backs alike.
The star got off to an explosive start in week one against Green Bay’s weak secondary, racking up 184 yards and two touchdowns on just nine catches.
The following week in Philadelphia, he caught just six of 12 targets for 48 yards while being closely covered by standout corner Darius Slay, who ended the night with two picks.
In week three against Detriot, Jefferson totaled a measly 14 yards on three receptions primarily against the Lions’ 2021 first-round draft pick, Jeff Okudah.
Finally, in week four, he looked like the Justin Jefferson most fans were used to, dominating the New Orleans Saints in London. Jefferson had an impressive 147 yards on 10 catches, plus a rushing touchdown on a goal-line end-around, which is no easy task against star corner Marshon Lattimore.
Many thought the Minnesota offense was supposed to run through Justin Jefferson this year after his stellar start to his career. Going into week five, that has not necessarily been the case.
The run game with Dalvin Cook has not looked up to par, Kirk Cousins has been average to above-average with his accuracy, and the offensive line has looked decent for the first time in years. So what is the matter?
The team is doing too much. While trying to do a complete overhaul of the Zimmer-era strategies, the team has reverted to an alternate version. Instead of running the ball too much, it seems like Jefferson is being force-fed the ball through the air. Through two games, Justin Jefferson was targeted 23 times compared to teammate Adam Thielen’s 11. In the team’s third game, Thielen had six catches on eight targets, compared to Jefferson’s three on six. This is the key to offensive success.
Jefferson needs to be okay with being a decoy. Every team knows he is dangerous. They will prepare and strategize for him more than any other wideout on the field, leaving Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn as lowkey threats. If Jefferson can just distract the top defensive backs, the offense will flow naturally as long as Kirk Cousins gets it out of his head that Jefferson is his top priority.
The Vikings take on the Chicago Bears Sunday in Minnesota, lining Jefferson up against a depleted secondary with Jaylon Johnson out with a quad injury. As long as Minnesota uses their depth against the Bears’ weak pass defense, they should not have too tough of a time.
Good read. Good information on the match-ups. I do agree that the Vikings need to mix it up on offense-not focus on one player. They have the weapons to be able to spread the ball all over! SKOL!