The Vikings have an illustrious history of gold jackers receivers at the top of their record books. Justin Jefferson is coming for all of them.
On Christmas Eve, Jefferson broke the Vikings franchise single season catches and yards records held by Cris Carter and Randy Moss respectively. He is also within striking distance of Calvin Johnson’s single season yards mark. Aside from records, accolades, and fun celebrations, Justin Jefferson’s impact on multiple facets of the Vikings offense is incalculable.
According to Sports Info Solutions, the Vikings use play action on the 9th highest rate of any offense in the league. The Vikings like to get into heavier personnel to entice the defense into run stopping looks. Then, Kevin O’Connell uses play action to help open up space for his superstar. It forces defenses into a bind because they now must choose between playing heavy and stopping the run and preparing to stop some of the play action game that the Vikings like to run. Linebackers that are a step late in the run game anticipating play action can be exactly what is needed to spring a big run.
Jefferson on Drift Swirl. Vikings in 21p get the Giants in base on 2nd and 3https://t.co/LnN8x42sJ8 pic.twitter.com/dATZp9UXaa— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 27, 2022
Jefferson’s impact does not only help his columns in the stat sheet. He has earned the attention he demands and the red zone has been a popular spot for him to be double teamed. On the defensive end, this makes intuitive sense. Try to stop the offense’s best, and live with the rest. Fortunately for T.J. Hockenson, this attention leads to singled up matchups elsewhere on the field:
T.J. Hockenson TD on Throwback. 22p makes 13, sell boot and break back out, Jefferson gets a double in the red zone. I like that Hockenson is 2 to the bottom which helps make it the LB who would be responsible for himhttps://t.co/FtqCqIGwME pic.twitter.com/NVi0CgCaUB— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 27, 2022
The double teams don’t scare Justin Jefferson, though. Jefferson’s unique abilities of smooth route running and catching in traffic have led to multiple instances this season where he has taken care of both defenders on a double team:
Jefferson functionally doubled in 2 man to the top and still gets a TD pic.twitter.com/h9GAC7zq2o— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 27, 2022
When a team does only send out one defender to stop Jefferson, the end result is signed, sealed, and delivered. Jefferson is Cousins go to target so frequently that these sorts of plays are almost expected in the highest leverage situations:
3rd and 9, Giants send pressure. Jefferson wins again pic.twitter.com/kTIT3wrx6S— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 27, 2022
Finally, Jefferson also is used in the screen game. The Giants did a good job bottling up these screens for a good part of the day, but you cannot stop Justin Jefferson, you can only hope to contain him. Jefferson followed his blockers well on the way to the Vikings game winning field goal:
Cousins checks to a screen and Jefferson follows the convoy to set up the game winning field goal pic.twitter.com/u8diR7eKHy— Shawn (@syedschemes) December 27, 2022
I am here to once again report to you that Justin Jefferson is good. Writing about him is so easy because all you need to do is watch and marvel at what he does. The tape speaks for itself, and Justin Jefferson’s game has done a whole lot of talking this season.