Justin Jefferson was coming off one of the most prolific college football seasons in history before he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.
His LSU Tigers went undefeated en route to a national championship in 2020. They were the first team in SEC history to go 15-0 and produce a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers, and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. Jefferson set a College Football Playoff record with four touchdown receptions in the two-game playoffs.
But after 20 games in Minnesota, Jefferson has gone 8-14 in his professional career with the Vikings.
He spoke out on the Vikings’ struggles to be a winning football team in his tenure with the team.
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‘I’m Used to Winning’
In a postgame press conference following the Browns loss, Jefferson was asked about the difficulties he’s faced amid his two years in Minnesota.
Here’s the entire question and answer:
Q: Justin, how does this sit with you to be 1-3 after a 7-9 season last year and so much success in college on a team that won a national championship. How hard is it to go two seasons in a row with a tough start?
A: Yeah, it’s hard. I’m used to winning. I’m used to just being on that high streak, being one of the top teams. Everything, every loss that we’ve had so far, it’s been on ourselves. We’ve been killing ourselves, shooting ourselves in the foot. We just have to finish throughout the whole game. This team is very good and we just have to play through all four quarters.
The Vikings, for a second straight season, are climbing uphill with a 1-3 record. However, this year has left much more optimism in the air — something that Jefferson is continuing to ride on with his teammates.
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Reasons to Belief
Yes, the Vikings record is what it is, and counting excuses can only go so far. But the team is 11 points away from being 4-0 this season with losses of one, three and seven points so far this season.
A Dalvin Cook fumble and missed field goal by Greg Joseph were to blame for their first two losses of the season. However, Sunday’s loss to the Browns renewed the concern surrounding the Vikings offensive line.
The Browns also struggled to sustain drives and gave the Vikings many opportunities to tie the game in the second half. Kirk Cousins was under pressure often as the offensive line folded frequently in the final half. They won’t face a tandem of pass rushers like Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett every week, but the unit received a reality check on Sunday, producing an NFL-worst 28.5 pass-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus.
Some potential fixes are waiting in the wings.
First-round pick Christian Darrisaw saw his first snap of the NFL season on special teams on Sunday. He is coming back from a core-muscle surgery this offseason and could crack the starting lineup soon.
Darrisaw has the potential to be a significant upgrade over residing left tackle Rashod Hill. Hill allowed 10 pressures on Sunday and is third among all tackles with 18 on the season. Darrisaw was drafted as the team’s left tackle of the future and, if Hill continues to struggle, Darrisaw may be thrust into a starting role.