The 22-year-old receiver, who posted the most receptions (193) and receiving yards (3,016) by any player in their first two seasons, is often spotlighted for any potential tension between quarterback Kirk Cousins and him.
The genesis: a hot mic capturing Jefferson cursing Cousins in 2020, sparking a national media frenzy that the rising star is already tired of playing with Cousins — whose success remains polarizing.
But at the conclusion of Jefferson’s second year and changes abound within the organization, Jefferson did not mince words when asked if he wants to see Cousins back next season.
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‘Things Aren’t Perfect With Us, But He’s the Reason…’
Jefferson was honest, saying their chemistry isn’t perfect, but that they’ve continued to build a strong rapport.
Here’s the whole question and answer:
Q: With all the numbers that you put up in these two seasons with Kirk Cousins throwing you the ball, what’s your relationship like with him?
Jefferson: Do you want to see him as the quarterback next year? A: I mean our relationship has been growing ever since I stepped in the building last year. Things aren’t always perfect between us, but he’s the reason why I got this many yards. He’s the reason why I’m this type of player. I’m not throwing the ball to myself, so he’s been doing great job for us. Of course, we want a better record, better outcome. Kirk is doing good. We just have to keep eating, keep stacking, and have an even better connection next year.
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Jefferson Past Cousins Missing Him for Record-Breaking Throw
Jefferson’s response comes after he came up 17 yards short of breaking Randy Moss’ single-season receiving yards record.
The record was within reach in the fourth quarter. Jefferson split the Bears’ coverage, which followed Osborn to the back of the end zone. Cousins still found Osborn for a touchdown while Jefferson raised his arms.
However, he went over to celebrate with Osborn and his teammates.
After the game, Jefferson addressed the play.
“Yeah, as soon as we called it I knew it was going to be an opportunity for either me or K.J. [Osborn]. Me going across the field, me being wide open and seeing wide open, I was like ‘oh yeah this is me.’ Me seeing the ball in the air, I was like “aw man”, but then seeing K.J. score I was like ‘okay cool.’ I mean, it’s all good as long as we score, as long as we have it won. It’s all good, I’m not really tripping. I’ll just try to get (the record) another time,” Jefferson said on January 9.
If Cousins had his way, he would have seen Jefferson and delivered the potential record-breaking throw.
“It all happened so fast. I wish it was that easy. But I came out of the fake, they brought the nickel. I just tried to work off the safety. The safety didn’t move, so I was kind of feeling like they’re likely going to lean to Justin, they’re likely going to double him. So, odds on favorite would be to work K.J., and K.J. was far more covered than Justin was,” Cousins said in a postgame press conference. “In hindsight, if I could have hit the reset button, I would love to hit J.J. there, get the record and the touchdown for him. But great play by K.J. as well.”
While they’re an odd match, the pair have helped each other climb to the top of their position groups.
The decision at quarterback this offseason should be made with serious consideration of how it will impact Jefferson, who finished the 2021 regular season second in receiving yards (1,616), fourth in receptions (108) and sixth in touchdowns (10).