Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson Is Vital to a Week 2 Minnesota Vikings Victory

The Minnesota Vikings had a rough Week 1, as the offensive line imploded with penalties, and Brashaud Breeland had the worst week of any cornerback in the league. There is no doubt how bad the offensive line and Breeland were last week but Justin Jefferson also had one of his worst games as a Viking. Since Stefon Diggs left, Justin Jefferson has become the electrifying pass-catching threat. In the Vikings Week 2 game against the Arizona Cardinals and their high-scoring offense, receiver Justin Jefferson is Vital to Minnesota coming away with a win.

Receiver Justin Jefferson Must Have a Big Game for Minnesota Vikings in Week 2

The Vikings will need a big game from Jefferson in Week 2 to have any hope of obtaining their first win of the 2021 season. The Vikings struggle to win games when Jefferson has fewer than 100 yards receiving. His importance to the offense is his big-play ability, not only because of what those big plays provide the offense in that moment but also because they are a key to the success of Dalvin Cook.

Whether it is due to the play-calling strategy early in games or the quarterback, Jefferson gets significantly more targets later in games. Kirk Cousins is only targeting Jefferson once per game in the first quarter on average. The Vikings will need to see Jefferson targeted more often early on in games.

Jefferson Must Be Better

In Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jefferson caught five passes on nine targets for 71 yards. It wasn’t a terrible day at first glance. However,  in those nine targets, there were four drops.  Granted, none of the four were perfectly placed by Kirk Cousins but all were passes that a wide receiver of Jefferson’s caliber should come down with.  One of these drops came on a third-down, and the Vikings went for it on fourth down and scored a touchdown on a slant to Adam Thielen. It may have worked out on that drive, but if the Vikings are going to win, Jefferson cannot drop four passes.

Yes, some of the blame for the drops is on Cousins. Two of the drops early in the game were thrown behind Jefferson. They were still catchable but better placement may have resulted in a completion. Due to the passes being consistently behind Jefferson it was highly likely there was a route timing issue on the wide receiver’s part. Whatever the reason, this needs to be cleaned up in Week 2.

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Cook Feasts When Jefferson Is a Threat

In four career games when Jefferson surpassed 100 yards receiving Dalvin Cook averaged 120 yards rushing. This may be a “chicken or the egg” debate, but the one thing that is clear is when Jefferson has a big game so does Cook. When Jefferson is a threat down the field, less attention is focused on Cook which allows the back to find bigger holes. And when Cook is having a big game, Jefferson sees less double coverage.

The Vikings have a 10-5 record when Dalvin Cook rushes for 100 or more yards. So, besides the quick strike boost Jefferson provides when he makes a play, he also helps Cook get to that 100-yard mark that is crucial for the Vikings.

Justin Jefferson is a top young wide receiver in the NFL and the Viking should see that he gets targets early and often. The Vikings can compensate for the offensive line struggling to run block by stretching the field with Jefferson. When Jefferson stretches the field and gives the Cardinals something to worry about, Dalvin Cook will be poised to take advantage.

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