Cooper Kupp is developing a real chemistry with quarterback Matthew Stafford but Kupp isn’t the only one. Second year receiver out of the University of Florida, selected in the second round, son of a former NFL receiver, Van Jefferson is also stacking connections with Stafford in McVay's offense.
Jefferson had 19 catches for 220 yards and one touchdown in his rookie regular season and already through eight games of his second campaign he has 24 catches for 392 yards and three touchdowns. Against the Chicago Bears, Jefferson had a 67 yard touchdown catch and against the Houston Texans he had a 68 yard catch.
Here are three indicators from the Jefferson’s 68 yard catch vs the Texans that points to his ability and potential.
The play has Jefferson alone on the left side running a skinny post. The defense is in a single high formation with the cornerback lined up over Jefferson with about an 8-10 yard cushion. This look implies that the defense is guarding against a deep route. In order for the play to be successful to Jefferson, he’s got to run past his defender who has a cushion as a head start. Jefferson closes quickly and gets even with the defender as Stafford pulls the trigger. Then it’s a race to the ball and the defender loses.
The cornerback is just the first defender that is guarding against Jefferson. As he gets past the cornerback, he has to then beat or at least avoid the single high safety. The route has to be steep enough to both avoid the safety and continue upfield to get behind the defense. Jefferson is able to make a clean enough break to get the step on the cornerback, with the perfect angle, and without losing speed so he get’s behind both defenders.
There is not a lot of scheme that helps with this play. The safety and the corner both have their eyes on Jefferson almost from the snap. It seems to be a true “take a shot’ moment with only three routes and two of them going under 15 yards. Jefferson is the only receiver going long and while Stafford has made highlight reels of looking off defenders, this play allows no opportunity with such a simple route combination. Simply, Stafford will either take a shot or check down to Kupp on a shallow cross which was open. Again, before Jefferson is actually behind the defense Stafford takes his shot and nails it. With a great throw showing off arm strength, accuracy, and anticipation, Stafford and Jefferson connect for 68 yards.
Stafford is proving to be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league this season. He’s showing that Jefferson has his confidence and it’s increasing.
And now for today’s links: