O’Connell Calls on NFL to Protect Justin Jefferson

AP Photo: Andy Clayton-King

The Minnesota Vikings won in GOAT comeback fashion vs the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon and they had to beat both the Colts and the refs to do it. But immediately following the game on Saturday, and then again when he spoke with media on Monday, that wasn’t Kevin O’Connell’s biggest complaint to the NFL offices.

O’Connell: Protect Justin Jefferson at all costs

Instead, KOC wanted to discuss the hits being laid on Justin Jefferson of late. He wants more flags and harsher punishments if defenders hit his superstar illegally. He even accused tacklers of deliberately hitting JJ illegally.

According to Kevin Siefert (ESPN), this isn’t the only time the Vikings head coach has broached this topic without being prompted.

“I think we’ve got to protect him a little bit better,” O’Connell said Saturday. “Great to get the flags, but … he’s too important to our league. Seems like a weekly occurrence at this point.” — Kevin O’Connell on Saturday (via ESPN)

“I think it’s about the fifth or sixth week in a row he took a type of hit that drew a flag. Clearly, there’s an emphasis on the teams we’re playing that some of those hits, they don’t just seem to be by accident at times.” — Kevin O’Connell on Monday (via Pioneer Press)

Illegal hits on JJ

JJ has drawn penalties in five of the Vikings last six games, according to Chris Tomasson (Pioneer Press). He notes Stephen Gilmore’s helmet to chin hit that was flagged on Saturday, along with Jordan’s Whitehead’s illegal hit on 12/4, which cost him $15,914.

We do not yet know if Gilmore will have money taken out of his paycheck for the hit he laid on JJ. I do not know if Kevin O’Connell really believes what he says about defenders’ intent to injure Justin Jefferson but given what we found out during the Saints’ bountygate investigation, it wouldn’t be surprising. And you have to applaud KOC for having his WRs back no matter what.

Remember, JJ had to sit out one play after the hit by Gilmore last weekend because he had to be evaluated for a concussion. Kirk Cousins threw an interception on that play because Jalen Reagor stopped running his deep route. So, if the strategy is to get Justin Jefferson off the field, it worked to perfection for the Colts.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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