Minnesota Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson has had it with the Kirk Cousins slander.
As Jefferson has made national media rounds approaching his bid for Offensive Rookie of the Year, NFL personalities have taken shots at his quarterback.
Deion Sanders took a shot on Cousins last week, while Pat McAfee tried to reignite the speculation surrounding Jefferson’s hot mic incident against the Chicago Bears when he cursed Cousins’ name.
Jefferson struck down the criticism Cousins has faced over the course of his career, crediting the Vikings quarterback as the reason he reset the Super Bowl era rookie receiving yards record.
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‘He Definitely Takes a Lot of Heat… He’s the Reason Why I Had 1,400 Yards’
Jefferson went on the Jim Rome Show this week and was asked about Cousins. Jefferson adamantly defended his quarterback.
“He definitely takes a lot of heat, he takes way more heat than he really deserves,” Jefferson said. “If you look at the numbers, he’s top of the league. He’s been doing a lot of things for this team and for this offense. I don’t really understand why he gets so much criticism. All of those losses that we had wasn’t on him. Of course, we would like to take some plays back and redo some plays but that’s just how it is. You don’t play perfectly, especially in this league, and to see the things that he has done I really don’t know why he gets so much criticism. He’s the reason why I had 1,400 yards.”
Jefferson’s chemistry with Cousins flourished since his first start in Week 3. Jefferson had just one drop this season and caught quickly became Cousins’ favorite target when moving the chains this season. He flashed promise as a red-zone threat, catching two touchdown passes against the Carolina Panthers with Adam Thielen out.
Cousins Criticism Debunked
Cousins is far from a perfect quarterback as Jefferson pointed out, however, he has proven to be reliable across his three seasons with the team.
He has thrown 25 or more touchdowns every season since 2015, completing a second-best 68% of his passes in that span.
After picking up his first playoff win in walk-off fashion against the New Orleans Saints a season ago, Cousins took a step forward in dispelling his Garbage Time Kirk persona. He posted a third-best 108.7 passer rating with the scoring margin within seven points, trailing on Aaron Rodgers (126.3) and Drew Brees (113.0).
Cousins continues to face criticism until he produces more positive games in primetime and in the postseason.
But after missing the playoffs in two of the three seasons in Minnesota, the pressure will be on Cousins to keep producing while the Vikings reinforce the defense that was the biggest detriment to the team in 2020.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.