Justin Jefferson Eyeing First Huge Individual Achievement

Should Justin Jefferson
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings won 13 games in year one under Kevin O’Connell. While they fell short in their playoff game against the New York Giants, there was one player that certainly shined all season long. Justin Jefferson was nothing short of amazing this season, and it’s now time where he’s looking at honors.

Coming into the season, it was unexpected that anyone but a quarterback would win the NFL MVP award. That has been the case as long as the league has been around, and it has been ten years since a non-quarterback won the award. Coincidentally, that was a former Viking in Adrian Peterson, but now Justin Jefferson is also challenging the status quo.

Justin Jefferson Eyeing First Huge Individual Achievement

The finalists for the 2022 NFL MVP have been announced as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Jefferson. Clearly, the Vikings wide receiver is an outlier here, and a wide receiver has never won the award. Back in 1987, Jerry Rice was a runner-up, and even when setting the NFL single-season receiving yardage record, Calvin Johnson came up short.

Justin Jefferson Eyeing
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Obviously, quarterbacks are seen as the most deserving of credit for a team’s performance. It’s hard to argue against Hurts, who led the Eagles to an NFL-best record. Mahomes was again amazing, and both Burrow and Allen had stellar seasons. For Jefferson, he was the league’s best wide receiver, but he did fall short of the ultimate goal.

In year one under O’Connell, Jefferson led the NFL in receiving yards and receptions. He held serve with Tyreek Hill for a time and wound up at the top when the dust settled. Following an ugly outing against the Green Bay Packers, surpassing Johnson’s single-season record became impossible. He simply went through the motions in a game against the Chicago Bears where starters rested.

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Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Terry McLaurin. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Jefferson still remains unlikely to upset the quarterbacks, and his best chance would have been had he done something new. Trending towards an opportunity to overcome Johnson’s record would have allowed Jefferson to hang his hat on something that likely will not be overcome any time soon. What is positive is that Jefferson is being acknowledged to this level despite having not done something unfathomable.

Across the league, it has become apparent that the former LSU star is at the top of his position. He is still incredibly young and in line for a massive contract extension this offseason. Pairing that with another step forward, some new career highs in 2023, could certainly set him up as the first recipient at his position.

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Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Betting against Jefferson at any point in his career isn’t a great plan of action. While this may not be the season he does the unthinkable, it certainly has set him up for a future in which that could be the case.

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Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.

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