The Colts enter week 15 fresh off a much-needed bye week. The team had some good news occur while they were home resting, with the team moving from the number 9 slot up to the number 7 slot in the draft. It seems the majority of Colts nation wants the team to lose out and get as high as they can in the draft, while some people are still hoping they can make the playoffs (3% chance) although it’s almost impossible. Jeff Saturday and the rest of the Colts organization are certainly approaching it that way, as Saturday describes the remainder of their schedule as “four winnable games”. Well, first up are the 10-3 Minnesota Vikings, a team that features one of the brightest young stars in the NFL: Justin Jefferson.
Justin Jefferson is a member of one the greatest college football teams of all time, the 2019 LSU Tigers, and certainly made a name for himself upon entering the league. Jefferson, doing most of his damage from the slot in college, was thought of by most as a slot receiver only when he left LSU. This caused him to fall all the way to the 22nd pick of the first round in the draft. It didn’t take Jefferson long to get acclimated into the NFL, finishing his rookie season with 1,400 yards and 7 touchdowns, while also making the pro bowl and earning all-pro honors. He followed that phenomenal rookie season up with an even better sophomore year. Jefferson posted 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns, racking up another trip to the pro bowl and landing on the all-pro team once again. In his 3rd season, Jefferson has established himself to most as the best receiver in the league and one of the most productive in NFL history. He has 1,500 yards and 6 touchdowns with four games still left to play. The last game Jefferson played was arguably the best of his career, torching the Lions for 11 catches and 223 yards.
Jefferson as a player wins in a multitude of ways. The Vikings do a great job of lining him up all over the place to create matchup advantages. Here’s an example of that: On this play, Jefferson runs an option route where the coverage actually dictates where he goes.
Justin Jefferson goes from the backfield to the end zone pic.twitter.com/CCyE0USJS6— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) November 21, 2021
The Vikings do things like this to get their playmakers in advantageous matchups, like this one, where they get Jefferson isolated on a linebacker:
Love this play design by Minnesota to get Justin Jefferson out of the backfield— Luke Sawhook (@lukesawhook) October 2, 2022
This is how offenses should be scheming their top WRs.
Manufactured touches by putting them in high leverage situations. #Skol
Justin Jefferson is so good the Vikings don’t even have to do any scheming for him to affect the game. His route running ability is so elite he can easily gain separation in and out of his breaks. In this first clip, he sells the out route before taking it upfield and completely embarrasses the defender. In the second clip, he sells the out route again before taking it inside for a slant where he makes a catch on an off-target throw by Kirk Cousins.
Justin Jefferson’s route running pic.twitter.com/ly48SiFrnL— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 1, 2021
The last thing I’m going to mention about Justin Jefferson is his insane ability to make contested catches and spectacular plays in traffic.
The Colts are going to have their hands full with Jefferson. Luckily, they have a player that has been playing at a pro bowl level in Stephon Gilmore, and an emerging player in Isaiah Rodgers that should help mitigate the damage a bit. The Vikings have other weapons on their offense with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and TJ Hockenson, but it all revolves around Jefferson. Stop him and you have a good chance of beating the Vikings.