Justin Jefferson is not Stefon Diggs

Photo: Stephen Maturen – Getty Images

Justin Jefferson was put in front of a microphone after the Minnesota Vikings lost to the LA Rams on Sunday afternoon and he answered the questions he received in an honest manner. He was happy to leap his friend, Odell Beckham Jr, for the most receiving yards collected in anyone’s first two NFL seasons, but he wished it had come during a win. He said the team lacked energy from the very beginning and when asked about the offense’ red zone woes, JJ told media that he wanted to see more aggressiveness earlier in downs.

Internet concerned, Mike Zimmer not

The internet blew up after Jefferson’s comments. This isn’t the first time Vikings fans have seen a wide receiver state their concern about the offense and many have nightmares that JJ is the next Stefon Diggs. If you remember, Diggs all but demanded a trade out of Minnesota, sending a bunch of cryptic tweets before eventually skipping practice and faking a cough in a media scrum that will live in Vikings infamy. Diggs’ calculated exit landed him in Buffalo, where he’s seen the most targets of any NFL receiver since.

Now, media pundits and fans across the internet are wondering out loud if Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings are going to scare away another star receiver who wants a heavier-passing offense. Well, Zim was asked about Jefferson’s comments when he spoke with media on Monday. He chalked them up to normal frustrations following a loss.

“I think Justin was just frustrated. Hey, we’re all frustrated when we don’t win the game. We all get frustrated. We all say things 10 minutes after the game that we wish we wouldn’t have. … In my opinion, he just wants to win. And part of that is he wants to get the ball if he can. And I don’t think he’s calling out anybody. That’s not the type of person he is.”

Jefferson vs Diggs

If we’re going to compare the frustrations of Diggs and Jefferson, then it’s only right we compare the numbers. Remember, Stefon Diggs didn’t top 1,000 yards until his FOURTH season in the league. The most yards he’s ever posted in one season as a Viking was 1,130 in his final year before he was traded to the Bills. He went for 1,535 yards on 127 catches in 2019, his first season in Buffalo.

Justin Jefferson, on the other hand, posted 1,400 yards in his rookie season and has followed that up with 1,400 more in 2021. As referenced earlier, those 2800+ yards are the most by any player in NFL history over their first two seasons. There are still two games remaining. It took Diggs into his 4th year before he reached 2,500 yards in his career

Want to talk touchdowns and the red zone again? Diggs had 15 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Jefferson has 18 and counting not yet through two. The NINE touchdowns that JJ has posted in each of his first two seasons matches Diggs’ season high for a career (2019, 2021). Even if we assume that Justin Jefferson will leave like Diggs did when he gets frustrated, the numbers show that JJ wouldn’t have the same merit.

What We Know

Even if we ignore the numbers and imagine Justin Jefferson is upset with how the offense is running, which we don’t know, those frustrations wouldn’t automatically mean that he wants out like his predecessor did. For example, Adam Thielen has been frustrated and has asked for offensive changes in postgame press conferences before too. He didn’t want out. We shouldn’t assume that’s what JJ would jump to.

We know Justin Jefferson was frustrated after last week’s loss. But we can’t assume anything beyond that. And when you compare his situation to Stefon Diggs’ the differences are stark. So let’s assume JJ is his own person, with his own feelings. If he starts tweeting cryptically, skipping practice and smirking while he argues with Chris Tomasson after being questioned about it, I’ll revisit this blog.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan