Vikings Film Review: Justin Jefferson can aid injured offensive line vs. Giants
The presence of Justin Jefferson should help the Minnesota Vikings defeat the New York Giants in the first round of the 2022 playoffs.
What a season it was for the Minnesota Vikings. 13-4, division champs, 11-0 in one-score games, and a negative point differential. Vikings fans saw their team win in every type of situation possible. Missed field goals, made field goals, last-second interceptions, and game-winning drives galore. It truly was a season to remember.
However, nothing Minnesota did during the regular season matters as much as their upcoming playoff matchup on Sunday against the New York Giants.
In their last game against the Giants in Week 16, the Vikings saw a heavy amount of blitzes. Some Cover-0 and some with defensive backs coming from depth. Kirk Cousins was under a lot of pressure as New York made it a focal point to get after him. Minnesota can expect a similar plan of attack from the Giants, considering they are without their budding star right tackle Brian O’Neill.
Justin Jefferson can help mask the injured Minnesota Vikings offensive line in playoffs vs. New York Giants
The Vikings are not about to rely on Justin Jefferson as an extra blocker on Sunday, but his ability as a blitz-beater can help make up for some of the injuries on the team’s offensive line.
Minnesota was able to come back and beat New York in Week 16 because of the way they utilized Jefferson to beat the blitz.
On the biggest third down of the game, the Giants sold out to pressure Cousins and get the ball back with the score tied 24-24.
New York played press man across the board with a safety over the top. This is called Cover-1. They blitzed their linebackers up the middle and left their defensive backs one-on-one with the Vikings receivers.
With the safety over the top to account for all deep threats, Jefferson was able to beat his man on an out route for a 16-yard gain and a Minnesota first down.
This route by Jefferson was so sweet. He bursts off the line and wins with outside leverage, which is what he needs to win on his out-breaking route. He then stacks the defensive back and presses the safety vertical, getting him to backpedal before breaking off into an out-route and making the first down look too easy.
This is a great example of how Jefferson can keep opposing defenses honest. By blitzing the Vikings, defenses are taking a chance leaving their defensive backs one-on-one against Jefferson, which is exactly the matchup Minnesota is looking for.
Cousins has done an excellent job taking advantage of these opportunities this season, even though he has been taking a lot of hits on these types of throws. Cousins was 15-for-24 for 171 yards and two touchdowns when the Giants blitzed him in Week 16, according to Pro Football Focus.
Taking a look at Jefferson’s touchdown earlier in the game, the Giants only rushed four defensive linemen and played Cover-2 Man over the top.
This is an example of a play we might frequently see in Sunday’s playoff game. Here, New York is able to pressure Cousins with just four linemen. However, because Jefferson is able to not only beat his man, but the safety as well, the Vikings came away with a touchdown when they needed it most.
An X-factor in the playoff game on Sunday will be if the Giants are able to get pressure on Cousins by rushing just four linemen. If so, Jefferson will need to consistently make plays such as this one in order for Minnesota to have a chance at winning.
After 18 weeks, hopefully, the Vikings have figured out the right formula to continue their winning ways into the postseason. An entirely new season starts on Sunday. Point differentials are no longer accounted for.