In just two years in the NFL, Justin Jefferson has catapulted himself into the conversation for the best wide receiver in the league. He can make all the catches, is dynamic in space, and is smooth with his route running. The Minnesota Vikings have filled their head coaching and general manager vacancies, so all the attention turns to the quarterback spot. But for Jefferson, does it even matter who’s throwing him the ball in 2022?
Larry Fitzgerald was one of the best ever at the wide receiver position, and he did it with some pretty unglamorous names throwing him the ball for large chunks of his career. Josh McCown tossed the third most out of all the quarterbacks to throw Fitz touchdowns, followed by John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, and Matt Leinart.
Of course, the team results weren’t great for the Cardinals in the years they didn’t have Kurt Warner or Carson Palmer. But Fitzgerald was a monster regardless of who was under center. Jefferson can be that type of receiver.
The hope is that Minnesota lands on the best possible solution at quarterback for the 2022 season and beyond. But the worries about Jefferson needing a really good quarterback for continued success are foolish. He’s proving to be one of the rare wideouts who makes plays regardless of who’s under center, as long as the scheme allows for it.
All of this comes in light of Jefferson appearing on radio row Wednesday during Super Bowl week in Los Angeles. Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio asked Jefferson if he expects Kirk Cousins to be back in Minnesota in 2022. Jefferson gave a response that once again split Vikings twitter in half.
“If he’s there, great. I love Kirk as a person, I love Kirk as a quarterback. He’s been doing a tremendous job with me, ever since I got into the league. So, I definitely wouldn’t mind him staying. I love Kirk.”
Most viewed this as a vote of confidence from Jefferson. Others broke down the “If he’s there, great” part and took it to be the opposite of a ringing endorsement. Fans can be split on the nature of Jefferson’s words. But no matter who winds up being the signal-caller, Jefferson will make that quarterback better.
Jefferson elaborated further on the Vikings’ quarterback situation:
“If the GM and head coach want to go a different route, then that’s on them. At the end of the day, I don’t make the decision. I’m just here to play football and I’m going to give it my all no matter who the quarterback is. I honestly do think we can win a Super Bowl with him.”
“Kirk is an outstanding quarterback. I feel like Kirk just needs to go out there and have fun with it. Just have that confidence, have that swagger. Trust in his playmakers to get the ball and do what they have to do. So, I’m happy for this upcoming year.”
Jefferson is saying all the right things and seems happy now. The worry is that this eventually becomes a Stefon Diggs situation, which the Vikings cannot have happen again. It’s great knowing Jefferson will produce, whether it’s Cousins, Kellen Mond, or someone else throwing him the ball. However, the team’s success may still hinge on what they do at QB.
It’ll be the first massive decision that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell have to make, one that will have a lasting impact on how they will be judged for years to come. It may not be fair, but it’s how the world turns in the NFL, and they both know it.
Minnesota has the dynamic running back and the superstar wide receiver who pairs well with Adam Thielen. Now they need to figure out if Cousins is the guy. Jefferson says they can win a Super Bowl with Kirk. Some Vikings fans won’t agree with that, but it is telling that Jefferson stuck his neck out for Cousins.
The Vikings have a lot going right for them entering the 2022 season. Most notable is the fresh start with a new regime. They have one piece that every team would kill to have: the young superstar wide receiver who can make it work with any quarterback throwing him the ball. The Vikings still need to figure out who the right quarterback is for them, whether it’s Cousins or not. Regardless, Justin Jefferson will produce elite numbers.