Zimmer Doesn’t Care About Justin Jefferson Breaking Records

PHOTO: ELIZABETH FLORES – STAR TRIBUNE

Winning mattered for 17 of 18 weeks during the 2021-22 Minnesota Vikings season. But there was nothing on the line this week. With the playoffs out of the picture losing may have been the better option, given it would have helped their position come April’s draft.

But Mike Zimmer made it clear all week that he didn’t care about the draft or whether a playoff birth was on the line. Zim wanted to win and that was the only thing on his mind. It showed before the game, when he played all available starters and it showed again at the end when he chose to run the clock out instead of helping Justin Jefferson break records.

On the final drive of the game, JJ needed 17 yards to surpass Randy Moss’ franchise record for single season receiving yards (1,632). The crowd, broadcasters and everybody on social media was clamoring for Kirk to hit Jefferson and break the record.

Instead, the Vikings called a run play and then kneeled down to end the game. Afterward, Zim made it clear that he wasn’t worried about Jefferson surpassing Moss’ record, stating what we already knew. He only cares about winning. Well, he should have done it more often when it mattered then.

Not All on Zim

Kirk Cousins deserves some blame too. Sure, he got the ball into JJ’s hands a lot on Sunday and helped him rack up the first 107 yards he posted on the day. But in the 4th quarter, the offense was threatening and Kubiak called the perfect pass play that sprung multiple receivers open.

None of them, including KJ Osborn who caught a touchdown pass on the play, was as open as Justin Jefferson who didn’t have a defender within 10 yards of him when Kirk unloaded the ball to the opposite side of the field. A touchdown is a touchdown unless it costs an all-time receiving record.

Kirk admitted after the game that he wishes he could go back and hit JJ for the TD and record.

Jefferson not concerned

Justin Jefferson said all the right things after the game. He even said he’d get the record another year. You have to love that confidence. But we do know JJ was aiming for this record and that statistics matter to him, like they do most players, especially receivers. Helping him put his name into the franchise record books would have gone a long way in showing that Zimmer learned something from what happened with Stefon Diggs. But Zim will Zim.

According to multiple reports, it won’t matter because Mike Zimmer won’t be around after Monday. Will Kirk Cousins still be JJ’s QB? Nobody’s sure yet and, after the game, Cousins wouldn’t answer questions on his future or whether he’d be willing to redo his contract. He did reiterate with media that he wants to be a Viking.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan