Viking Big loss against the Packers Sunday was frustrating for everyone wearing purple and white, whether on the field, in the stands, or watching at home. No one would have been disappointed.
During the team’s loss at Lambeau Field, Jefferson was tied to one catch for the first time in his three-year career. Nearly four months after hitting nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in Green Bay’s zone defense look in Week 1, his only reception against five targets came in the third quarter. It was a 15-yard increase and the Vikings were already under 27. 3.
The Packers came into this game with a much different plan than the one Jefferson surprisingly took advantage of at U.S. Bank Stadium in September. In that contest, they stuck to zone coverage and somehow left Jefferson wide open on multiple occasions. Cornerback Jaile Alexander followed him around the field and benefited from having safety help behind him.
“[There]was a lot of second-tier coverage of him today,” Kevin O’Connell said. “Two deep man under two deep zone. They didn’t allow him to have much of his one-on-one coverage. There wasn’t much present today.”
“I feel like they played most of the entire first half,” Jefferson said. “I really didn’t try to get Jaile out and give him a free release from the line. They had a good strategy and a good game plan…”
Alexander has poked bears multiple times this week and lived to tell the tale. Earlier in the week, he told reporters in Green Bay that Jefferson’s massive outing in the season opener was a “fluke,” then in the first quarter after his pass break, Alexander returned to Jefferson. ‘s signature Griddy enthusiastically performed his dance.
“At first, I thought it was a mockery,” said Jefferson. “I thought it was a (legitimate) provocative call. But I mean, what it is. He does stuff like that to get into my head. It’s about giving yourself a boost or giving yourself confidence to protect.”
Griddy had a tempting fate in the first quarter, but the Vikings offense couldn’t get back to Alexander. Two plays later, Kirk Cousins threw the pick 6. In the second quarter, Cousins’ pass tipped at his line of scrimmage was again intercepted as Jefferson slipped on the turf of his field for Rambo. This set up a touchdown for the Packers, making it 24-3.
When Jefferson ran off the field at the end of the play, he showed some of his frustration.
Jefferson, who still leads the NFL in receiving yards, entered the day with 10 100-yard outings in 15 games. He was just 200 yards off Calvin Johnson’s single-season record, which is probably out of reach considering the Vikings may rest their starting lineup in Week 18. will be in There was little he could do for Jefferson.
“Ultimately, I realized that I wasn’t allowed to set a record in this league and go over 100 yards every game,” he said. “They’re going to do anything in their power to keep me from getting in those numbers….it’s definitely hard to get one catch in a game…a big part of the offense.” We want to be, we want to be big, we want to play for us, and it’s definitely hard not to be able to do that.”
Many factors go into why a player as talented as Jefferson only has one catch. Coverage and pressure played a big role. There may have been some opportunities there, but either Cousins didn’t target Jefferson, or there wasn’t enough time in his pocket to find him, or the two just couldn’t connect. and O’Connell conceded that Jefferson was open with the first interception as Cousins tried to find tight end TJ Hockenson in the middle of the field on fourth down.
The score got out of hand by halftime, resulting in Jefferson being eliminated from the game early in the fourth quarter.
“A few times he could have had a chance,” O’Connell said. “It was either pressure or the ball to TJ was just flipped over on the other side of the field and intercepted. I’m always looking ‘did we have enough opportunities? Didn’t you? times. “
Alexander faces Jefferson, he continued his trash talk after the gameand will receive plenty of justifiable praise for helping keep the league’s leading receivers to one catch. I’ve had a lot of help from both.
“If you don’t have a[productive]game, it’s not because you haven’t been open, you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve hardened yourself enough,” Jefferson said. “It’s mostly because they’re doubling me down or helping me a lot. It’s frustrating to deal with, but I need to keep playing and staying myself.”
With the playoffs on the horizon, how the team approaches covering for Jefferson and what the Vikings will do to counter it will be a key focus. As they’ve proven this season, there’s a way to get him the ball even when he’s doubled. But if the team sells out to limit Jefferson production, the Vikings will need other players to step up to some extent.
Sunday was a frustrating day for Jefferson and the Vikings, but the playoffs will provide a golden opportunity for one of the NFL’s brightest stars and his team to bounce back.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen coverage like this. It’s not the first time he’s essentially doubled in most, if not all, football games,” O’Connell said. “And he was productive. Perhaps a lot of things could be improved by looking at the tapes, and when this[reporting]gets, we’ll be able to confirm. Some Play it and bring it back to life as an attack.”
thank you for reading. Bookmark this site for the latest Vikings news and analysis daily throughout the offseason. also, follow me on twitter If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.