Justin Jefferson is coming off a record-setting rookie season catching passes from Kirk Cousins. The former first-round pick recorded 1,400 receiving yards for the Minnesota Vikings in 2020, which is the most for a rookie in NFL history.
You would think Jefferson would be throwing his full support at Cousins after the duo’s historic first season together, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
On Tuesday, Jefferson made a national television appearance and took some brutally honest shots at his starting quarterback. The first day of Vikings training camp might get a little interesting.
Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins had a brilliant connection in 2020
When Jefferson was drafted by the Vikings with the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, fans knew he had the potential to eventually become one of the top weapons in the entire league. But no one expected it to happen so soon.
Jefferson recorded 88 catches, a rookie record 1,400 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns last season in his brilliant coming-out party.
With Jefferson at his disposal, Cousins completed one of the best seasons of his nine-year NFL career. The two-time Pro Bowler finished with a 105.0 passer rating and a career-high 35 touchdown passes.
During Jefferson’s appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Fox Sports 1 this week, he explained that he knew his connection with Cousins was special from their first game together.
“I would have to say after that first start against Tennessee when I had my first touchdown, 175 yards, and seven catches,” Jefferson said. “After that week, I felt like it was gonna be a good connection between me and him. And then from there on, we just started getting better and better. We started working with each other more, and it showed on the field by having 1,400 yards.”
But not all of Jefferson’s comments about Cousins were that positive.
Jefferson slights Cousins when comparing him to Joe Burrow
After Jefferson gave Cousins props for the connection they shared last season, he was asked to compare the Vikings QB to his old signal-caller at LSU, Joe Burrow. The talented WR had a chance to compliment both quarterbacks at once, but he clearly leaned to one side.
“Kirk and Joe throw similar balls. They’re not the strongest arm, but they’re gonna get it to you exactly where you need it,” Jefferson said. “The thing about Joe that’s a little bit different, I feel like Joe has a little bit more swagger. He has that confidence on the field. He’s not scared to get hit, and I feel like as a quarterback, that’s a big trait to have — especially to be as young as he is. He’s a phenomenal quarterback.”
Well then. That’s some high praise for a guy who isn’t even Jefferson’s QB anymore. No mention of Cousins having swagger or confidence on the field. No remark that he’s a phenomenal quarterback as well.
And it only gets worse.
Jefferson says “we have to build on for after Kirk” Cousins
Jefferson surely raised some eyebrows with his comparison of Cousins and Burrow, but he took it to another level with his next answer. When asked whether he was surprised that the Vikings were interested in drafting Justin Fields in the first round of the draft last month, Jefferson gave another blunt response that stirred up plenty of drama around the Minnesota area.
“No,” Jefferson said immediately. “We have to build on for after Kirk, or whatever the case may be. Having Justin Fields brings a little bit more pressure to other teams by having a dominant quarterback like he is.”
Now, Cousins is only 32 years old. If the Vikings still believe he’s the man for the job, he won’t be going anywhere soon. But could these comments mean Jefferson is already vying for a replacement under center? Either way, it’s refreshing to hear an NFL player give brutally honest answers to tough questions instead of sugar-coating his response.
Hey Kirk, you like that?
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference