Will Justin Jefferson break Calvin Johnson's record and reach elusive 2,000-yard mark?


Justin Jefferson started the season with a bang and he could finish it with a new NFL record.

The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver is just nine yards shy of breaking Randy Moss’ franchise record for receiving yards in a season, and the all-time record held by Calvin Johnson (1,964) is within reach as well.

Johnson set the record at 1,964 yards in the 16-game 2012 season. Now, the NFL’s expanded schedule gives Jefferson an extra game to try to reach Megatron.

Jefferson has 1,623 receiving yards in 14 games this season – an average of 115 yards per game. Based on that, he’s on pace to come up short of Johnson’s record as well as the elusive 2,000-yard mark.

However, Jefferson has had 123 yards or more in seven of 14 games this season and put up 184 yards against the Packers and 154 against the Bears – two of the Vikings’ three remaining opponents.

Dane Mizutani and Tom Schreier of the Audacy Original Podcast “Inside Purple & Gold” talked about Jefferson’s terrific season and his chances to break the NFL receiving yards record.

“I think he’s capable. He obviously has to go way above his average but that average is weighed down by a few bad games,” Schreier said (13:13 in player above). “I think (Brian) Daboll is the biggest threat, you know what I mean? Both getting after Cousins but also maybe scheming him out a little bit.”

The Giants are the Vikings’ next opponent and, as Schreier said, pose the biggest threat. They’ve limited opponents to 216.9 passing yards per game this season, right in the middle of the pack.

Speaking of the pack, the Packers and defensive coordinator Joe Barry likely won’t have many answers for Jefferson in Week 17 on New Year’s Day. Jefferson opened the season with 184 yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay.

“He’s not going to have the same game I think he had in Week 1 but if he can’t break the Joe Barry defense like we’re going to have to have a conversation here,” Schreier continued. “And the Bears one also presents a threat as in the Vikings could win and it could be ugly and he could not make the record.

“I think he breaks the Calvin Johnson one and part of me just thinks he’s capable of 2,000, especially with where these teams are at the end of the season. The Bears, you just have to break their morale and you can just kind of walk into it, maybe not play him the whole game. I think that one could be a disaster if the Vikings play it right, but I think Daboll, this game against the Giants is the biggest threat because you have two methods to take him out… This game’s going to be really telling here for if he can get the Calvin Johnson record and 2,000.”

Jefferson has been held to 48 yards or fewer in four games this season. However, two of those came in the first three weeks of the season. He’s largely been able to break the 100-yard mark, but some defenses have slowed him down.

“I agree with you. The Giants are the best defense, Daboll is the best coach that the Vikings will see the rest of the season, and inherently it is the first of the three-game stretch. So if Justin Jefferson gets taken away, if he has like a minor game this week, he’ll obviously break Randy Moss’ record but it screws with the averages,” Mizutani said. “If he doesn’t go nuts this week it’s almost like OK, it’s going to be really hard for him even if he goes nuts for the next two weeks to get over 2,000, to catch Calvin.”

Even if Jefferson does get capped around 50 yards, he’ll have two games against inferior defenses to chase Johnson and 2,000. He’s 341 yards away from Johnson heading into the Giants game and compiling 300 yards against the Packers and Bears isn’t out of the question.

It’s also helpful that the Vikings still have playoff positioning to play for. They shouldn’t think about resting Cousins or Jefferson until at least Week 18, and they may try to feed him to get the record.

Nevertheless, Jefferson is having a terrific season and at only 23 years old it’s looking like he’ll have a very bright future in Purple and Gold.

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