Vikings Snap Counts: A bright light on offense, Jefferson continues to produce
With the 22nd pick in the 2020 draft, the Minnesota Vikings select Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, LSU.
In an otherwise dim Vikings season which has featured five losses in six games and 10 interceptions by Kirk Cousins, that sentence spoken by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell serves as the lone source of glimmering hope in Minnesota.
Six games into his NFL career, Jefferson — the fifth receiver taken in the draft — has been outstanding.
Jefferson was at it again Sunday, as he played 50 of Minnesota’s 56 offensive snaps — good for a career-high 89% clip — and logged nine receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta.
Despite being tied for 37th in the NFL with 36 targets through six games, Jefferson ranks fifth with 537 receiving yards. That’s 40 yards more than the next-best rookie, CeeDee Lamb, who was picked five spots ahead of Jefferson at No. 17 overall by Dallas.
Jefferson also is tied for the league lead with 10 receptions of 20+ yards and ranks fifth in yards per catch (19.2). He’s already tied Sammy White (1976) and Hassan Jones (1986) for the second-most 100-yard receiving games by a Vikings rookie, with three. Randy Moss had four such games in 1998.
Perhaps even more remarkable, Jefferson is doing all of this while being the second option in the Vikings’ air attack behind two-time Pro Bowl receiver Adam Thielen, who has played more snaps (92.1%) and seen more targets (49).
The rookie’s role in the offense has been steadily growing. In Week 1, he played just 69% of the snaps and primarily ran routes from the slot. When the Vikings unleashed him from the outside against Tennessee in Week 3, Jefferson was on the field for 78% of the offensive plays. That number looked steady in Week 4 (77%) and Week 5 (80%) before rising once more against Atlanta.
While the Vikings’ playoff hopes are dwindling by the week, Jefferson continues to look like the future face of the franchise.
.@JJettas2 just makes it look easy 💪
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) October 18, 2020
Other notes from Sunday’s snap counts:
— Alexander Mattison made his first career start at running back but only played 27 offensive snaps (48%). Last week in Seattle, Mattison was on the field for 43 snaps (49%) after coming in relief for the injured Dalvin Cook.
— Meanwhile, Ameer Abdullah played a season-high 16 snaps (29%). Entering Week 6, Abdullah had been on the field for a total of four snaps. Abdullah saw two carries and two targets, while the starter Mattison rushed 10 times and was targeted twice.
— Wide receiver Chad Beebe was on the field for 22 of the 56 plays, good for a season-high 39% clip. He hauled in two of five targets for 13 yards.
— Third-year cornerback Mike Hughes exited the game in the second quarter with a neck injury, which held him out of two games this season. He played 13 snaps (16%) before leaving the game.
— Harrison Hand, a 2020 fifth-round pick by Minnesota, filled in for the injured Hughes and made his defensive debut Sunday, playing 37 snaps (46%). He was one of three rookie cornerbacks to see the field, along with Jeff Gladney and Cam Dantzler, after Holton Hill and Kris Boyd were ruled out of the game due to injuries.
WEEK 6 — VS. FALCONS (OFFENSE)
WEEK 6 — VS. FALCONS (DEFENSE)