The play of Justin Jefferson during the Minnesota Vikings’ fluky 13-4 campaign dropped jaws all across the NFL this season. Fans and analysts have catapulted him to the top slot when comparing wide receivers. What these talking heads seem to forget is who came before him.
Lost in the trash heap that was the 2022 Los Angeles Rams was Cooper Kupp. Through nine games, the reigning Offensive Player of the Year was well on his way towards producing another All-Pro campaign. Unfortunately, Kupp suffered a severe ankle sprain in a loss to the Cardinals and was placed on IR in November.
His loss was Jefferson’s gain. JJ finished the regular season leading the league with 128 receptions and 1,809 yards. That production failed to carryover to the playoffs as he caught seven passes for just 47 yards as he was held out of the end zone in a 31-24 home defeat to the Giants.
When looking at the Vikings’ final three games against the Packers, Bears and Giants, Jefferson went out with a relative whimper compared to his overall production as he totaled 12 receptions for 100 yards and zero touchdowns. How could anyone forget this dud of a performance with the top seed potentially on the line in Green Bay?
Justin “better than Cooper Kupp” Jefferson? pic.twitter.com/MTHqmlAEu9— (@ErodHours) January 2, 2023
There’s absolutely no way Cooper Kupp would be shutout in a half and held to just one measly catch for 15 yards. Now I’m not here to slander Justin Jefferson. I believe he’s a top-five receiver in the NFL. Should his remarkable campaign crown him as the top pass catcher? That I think is a topic that every Rams fan should take issue with.
Once Kupp was lost for the season, those around the league appeared to forget about him. Time for a little trip down memory lane shall we? At the time of his injury in Week 10, Coop comfortably led the team with 75 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns.
Despite missing the final eight games of the regular season, Kupp still led the team in all of those categories. His 98 targets were just 10 behind Tyler Higbee’s 108. Again, the guy missed EIGHT FREAKING GAMES and remained LA’s leading receiver for the second-straight year!
Did the media forget the entirety of his Triple Crown season, or his Super Bowl LVI MVP performance? If MVP wasn’t exclusively a quarterback award, Kupp would’ve won it handily in 2021. Sorry to take away the only thing you care about Karen Rodgers but Cooper was the only one worthy! There was nothing fluky about his Super Bowl run. A mere glance at his dominance the last two seasons should leave no questions as to who’s the top dog.
Cooper Kupp missed 8 games this year. When you take into account what he did from 2021 Week 1 including the playoffs and through Week 10 of 2022 these are his numbers…— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) January 12, 2023
32 GS: 253 RECs, 3,237 YDs, 28 TDs
Example: Here’s Justin Jefferson in last 34 games
236 RECs, 3,425, 18 TDs pic.twitter.com/0aLP2QP3B8
In every sport, all parties involved are prisoners to the moment. Oftentimes we cream our jeans over the latest superstar all while forgetting to tip our cap to all those who’ve played before them. Kupp’s magical run just a year prior was the greatest receiving season in NFL history and all anyone can do now is talk about Justin Jefferson.
When the lights shined brightest, Jefferson failed to carry the Vikings on his back. Of course he needs a big game QB to be paired with first but I digress. There will come a day when JJ is deemed one of the all-time greats. Given the start to his career, I wouldn’t expect anything less.
Until then, it’s Cooper Kupp who belongs at the top until further notice.