Updated: Jan 5
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by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Justin Jefferson is so damn good....
When the Minnesota Vikings drafted him, they understood what everyone at LSU just figured out over 2018 to January 2020:
For all the talk of Ja'Marr Chase, without Justin Jefferson's all-encompassing abilities and chain-moving intensity (capable of making every catch from anywhere on the field) Chase scores 12 or 13 TDs rather than 20...
While being overshadowed by Chase's herculean numbers (Justin passed him heavily in receptions 111 to 84 and neared him with 18 TDs) Jefferson declared for the NFL Draft after his title-winning junior year and has only seen his success continue....stunning one NFL fan or analyst after another.
Finishing his triumphant rookie season in Minnesota with 88 catches for 1,400 yards (1,402 total, 1 rush for 2 yards), adding 7 TDs, 7 performances of 100+ yards (highest was 175), averaging 15.9 yards per catch....this is a rookie playing for a unit which floundered among their fellow NFC opponents, who struggled under the erratic decision making of Kirk Cousins, contended for catches against Adam Thielen and yet Justin still shattered Randy Moss's 1998 Minnesota rookie record, as well as taking the Super Bowl era record for receiving yards by a rookie, now standing 2nd all time from any era.
With 8 games of 5+ receptions (7/8 above 7 receptions), 10 instances of 70+ yards, averaging 10+ yards per catch over 13 of 16 occasions...Justin set the world on fire....and with a 2-2 record when the former LSU #2 received less than 5 targets, the Vikings were taking their chances when they didn't rely or depend on #18...Minnesota also had a 1-5 overall record when Justin received under 50 yards...
Throughout the season, Jefferson squared off against (his former LSU Passing Game Coordinator) Joe Brady's Panthers, faced old teammates like Devin White, K'Lavon Chaisson, Kristian Fulton, playing against legendary opposition QBs such as Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson or Phillip Rivers, and he also returned to the Superdome for an emotional first NFL game in his home state (as well as the last scene of the crime for 2019 LSU); ...and yet across every tough test, Justin was unstoppable....getting better and better every time he took the field.
Only one team kept him down (Green Bay held Justin to 26 yards in both meetings, although receiving only 7 total targets...Cousins took 6 drives and until 12:46 remaining in the 2nd quarter to finally throw Jefferson the ball..a constant theme throughout the year); Still, the Packers weren't successful in their coverage, Justin grabbed 17 yard and 12 yard long grabs while earning space for Adam Thielen to do his damage (110 yards and 2 TDs in Week 1)...
...the problem (and solution) is the Vikings' quarterback....
When Kirk Cousins gave Justin a chance to make a play, either Justin made it or Cousins' inconsistent passing led to 4 interceptions, however Justin constantly bailed out his franchise, his teammates and his quarterback, representing LSU & Minnesota with class, Griddy-inspired fun & hijinks and he made us all so proud....
THANK YOU JJETS! WE LOVE YOU....ESPECIALLY DUCHESS @chettykins!
We geaux back through some of his greatest moments:
HIS FIRST NFL TD VS TENNESSEE
After the first two weeks of the season, Jefferson only touched the ball 6 times total (5 catches for 70 yards & 0 scores).....unsurprisingly, the Vikings lost both games handily.
But at least they stopped making this repeat mistake during Week 3....
Cousins finally trusted his rookie receiver and gave him the ball 9 times....and even though Tennessee would pull out a 31-30 victory in the end, the Vikings were much improved due to Jefferson's greatness.
Finishing with a crazy 175 yards while catching 7 of 9 total targets, Jefferson erased Mike Vrabel's DBs, achieving his biggest moment by way of a 71 yard long touchdown bomb, his longest gain of the year:
Starting from the left, Justin runs a middle post and completely shreds his coverage, taking Dion Lewis out of the play as he went up field...and of course, the Cousins pass here is as perfect as can be, leading Justin into space...but this is where the Griddy was born:
Right as he hauls the ball in, Justin takes a few steps to gather his balance right as he arrives at the sideline, sensing safety Kenny Vacarro coming from his left and Lewis from behind, Justin uses his unreal agility, as well as Vacarro's aggression and cuts across the highly-rated safety and runs both pursuing corner and safety into each other as he escapes home free, stretching his arms out in hilarity, dancing his way into the end zone for his first ever NFL score....and what a way to announce yourself (too bad former LSU teammate Kristian Fulton wasn't there to get burnt and turnt).
175 yards would be his final overall single-game total....and only three games into the campaign....the NFL was now officially on notice....
HIS FIRST MULTI-TD GAME VS ATLANTA
Just as Ja'Marr Chase executed during the LSU vs Clemson 2020 title game, Justin Jefferson took this Tiger Trolling one step further....when he ripped the lungs out of former Clemson and current Falcons' CB A.J Terrell as well as CB Kendall Sheffield (Justin sending Sheffield to the turf for a change of pants after one Griddy-inspired burst off the line).
Though Atlanta (and Terrell) would have the last laugh, winning 40-23 including Terrell intercepting a pass intended for Jefferson (one of 2 INTs intended for Justin on the day), regardless of the defeat, Justin came alive for 166 total yards catching 9 of 11 passes for his first multi-score game, adding 2 crucial 3rd down grabs (including one on 3rd and 20) and adding a two point conversion reception to the pile of greatness.
It shows Justin's true character....losing 40-15 before he hauled in his 2nd touchdown, Justin refused to celebrate either the TD or the 2 point conversion to follow, simply dropping the ball on the ground and shaking his head in disgust.
Of course he can burn and beat these DBs....of course he loves celebrating touchdowns with hilarious dance moves...though make no mistake...all he cares about is winning.
ASSIST-MAN VS HOUSTON
Catching a mere 4 passes during a Week 4 battle vs Houston, Justin Jefferson made each one of 'em count for his (then) 0-3 Vikes....
...and Kirk Cousins, while remaining conservative in his targets aimed for the rookie, found Justin in fantastic space, hitting the former Tiger with illustrious back shoulder throws and deep balls, converting two 3rd downs and setting up 4 TDs for Minnesota with each one of his 4 red zone-creepin' receptions:
He won't get the credit for it, but without Justin's acrobatic, sideline-twisting panache, Minnesota can forget about every one of those scores, specifically thanks to Jefferson's 3rd down heroics & Cousins' growing relationship alongside the Louisiana stunner:
Hauling in 4 of 5 targets for 103 yards, headlined by a 29 yard long grab on 3rd down or his 25.8 yards per catch, without Justin's brilliance setting up each and every touchdown from the Vikings' 31 total points, Minnesota don't grab their first win of the season.
Although Dallas would win 31-28 and Jefferson tallied a slight 3 receptions from 5 targets, Justin still gave the Vikings every opportunity to win the game, making the most of his 3 grabs for 84 yards with 1 TD:
Each grab was a monumental snag, earning three first downs for 28, 19 and 39 yards, capped off by the nearly 40 yard long bomb over the top (a beautiful pass from Kirk Cousins), and before we knew it, Justin was doing the Griddy in JerryWorld...
During that day and night, images of Justin and Randy Moss (both as rookies) torching the Cowboys was a welcome sight for all NFL fans....since 90% of us hate Dallas with a raging passion.
Justin relished in the chance to rip the Cowboys to pieces, however if the Vikings had thrown Jefferson the ball even two or three more times, they beat the Dak-less Cowboys.
VS THE NFC NORTH
Justin terrorized his own division, 488 total yards (three 100 yard games) and 33 catches, setting up 4 wins out of 6 division games (beating all three divisional opponents at least once, including #1 seed Green Bay for a fantastic 4-2 division record: pretty damn good for a team who didn't make the playoffs or were out of postseason contention before Week 17).
Despite being unable to haul in a TD vs any NFC North opponent, Justin's greatness perpetually freed up fellow Pro Bowl wide out Adam Thielen (as well as Dalvin Cook's rushing attack) his WR counterpart racking up religious numbers with #18 by his side.
Regardless of the 0 TD stat, Justin will have his entire career to rack up the TDs against Green Bay, Detroit or Chicago...the warning shots have already been fired and now, if Cousins can really raise his level above and beyond, Jefferson will bleed the NFC North for a decade to come....he just spent 6 games making every opponent regret his existence as a rookie.
(NEXT LEVEL STATS):
1ST DOWN CONVERSIONS: 53
GAINS OF 10+ YARDS: 50
GAINS OF 20+ YARDS: 20
3RD DOWN CONVERSIONS: 16
-4 PASSES INTENDED FOR JEFFERSON WERE INTERCEPTED
-4 CATCHES WHILE INTERFERED
-6 PIs FORCED
-2 TWO POINT CONVERSION RECEPTIONS
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CATCH OF THE SEASON FOR JUSTIN??? TELL US!!!!!
BLACK LIVES MATTER
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings INC LLC
SHOUTOUTS: JUSTIN JEFFERSON FOR SNAPPING THE RECORD...YOU ARE THE TRUTH & DUCHESS LOVES YOU