Are expectations too high for Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson?

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Justin Jefferson
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Justin Jefferson /
2 of 3
Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Jefferson /

Be careful with your expectations for Jefferson

As great as Justin Jefferson was as a rookie, there seem to be some awfully egregious expectations for him moving forward. It’s fair to say that he is going to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL once again, and he will be a dynamic game-changer, but his numbers alone may not be what people project.

With the defense seeing a drastic change across the roster and a new bill of health, Minnesota should not be giving up nearly 30 points per game and constantly putting out a joke of a defense. That alone takes away the need for a high-scoring offense that throws the ball 516 times.

No, this is not a slander on Kirk Cousins or even a consideration of the Vikings being a garbage time team. But having a defense that keeps the opponent out of the end zone will allow Minnesota to focus on the run game again and keep Dalvin Cook involved throughout a 17-game season.

Running will always trim the clock as well and the Vikings are not going to stray away from handing the ball off on early downs. This is a minimal dip over the course of the season, but fans should not fully invest in a pass-first offense centered around Jefferson.

Adam Thielen still received 108 targets of his own last season and Minnesota has made a slight effort to add more to the pass-catching group this offseason. Rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette will compete for reps on offense, while Tyler Conklin and Irv Smith Jr. both have much more upside as receivers at the tight end spot than Kyle Rudolph did at the end of his Vikings career.

The target share for Jefferson will be a bit more diverse than it was last year if things go well for Minnesota. One also has to consider that the defense will pay more and more attention to Jefferson as he emerges as the favorite weapon for Cousins. Even though Jefferson can handle extra defenders, Cousins has to be smart and avoid making too many mistakes by forcing the ball to him.

Jefferson has shined despite being in a run-first offense, and although that does not play a massive factor in the grand scheme of things, the Vikings do want to get the most out of Cook and Alexander Mattison. The run game will always take precedence.