Justin Jefferson has had a stellar start to his NFL career. He was passed up by the Eagles in the first round of the draft. That’s always good. He broke the record for rookie receiving yards in the Super Bowl Era and finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. That’s remarkable. But yesterday, the young star wideout probably did the first thing since being drafted that he wishes he could take back.
Jefferson went on Colin Cowherd’s The Herd on Tuesday, where he was asked to compare his two most recent starting quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins and Joe Burrow. Jefferson starts off by praising both with a backhanded compliment.
“Kirk and Joe throw similar balls. They’re not the strongest arms, but they’re going to get it to you exactly where you need them to throw it.”
Okay. Fair enough. I’m sure neither Cousins nor Burrow would argue that they can sling it like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, and at least Jefferson said they can both place the ball in the appropriate spots. That’s always a good trait for a quarterback to have. Everything out of Jefferson’s mouth after this sentence seems to indirectly bash Cousins though.
“I feel like Joe has a little bit more swagger. You know, he’s got that confidence on the field and he’s not scared to get hit, and I feel like, as a quarterback, that’s a big trait to have.”
I felt that one from here. I’m sure Jefferson meant no ill will toward Cousins with this statement. I’m sure he only meant for it to praise his former college teammate, but you can’t deny what his statement implies: Kirk has no swagger — okay, we probably all already knew that — and he lacks confidence — that we did not know. I’m sure we’ve all had it in the back of our heads. I mean, only someone pretty insecure would scream “YOU LIKE THAT?” at reporters after being ridiculed on local radio. But to hear it straight from the mouth of his top receiver...that hurts even me. Things only get worse from there. When asked whether or not he was surprised to hear that the Vikings were interested in drafting Justin Fields, Jefferson said:
“No. You know, we have to build on for after Kirk. Having Justin Fields brings a little more pressure to other teams by having a dominant quarterback like [Fields] is.”
OOOHHH, from the top rope. Geez!
Jefferson has played one year with Cousins and, already, thinks it’d be fine if the Vikings wanted to move on? Cousins will be just 33 after next season. He’s thrown for 30 or more touchdowns in two of the last three seasons. He’s not washed up yet. He almost led the Vikings to the playoffs, and let’s be honest, Minnesota definitely deserved a spot more than the Bears. Is Cousins a “dominant” quarterback? No, not by any definition, but he gets the job done. He doesn’t lose you games and he seems to be well-liked by all of his teammates.
Jefferson might have a point in the pressure aspect of his statement, though. We all saw what Aaron Rodgers did just one season after the Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round. Maybe putting a little fire under Kirk’s derrière would spark some incredible play from the 10-year vet. However, referring to someone you’ve never played with and will be playing against you twice a year for the foreseeable future as QB of the Bears as dominant, while leaving out your own quarterback, is just a real kick in the metaphorical nuts.
The connection between Jefferson and Cousins was special last year, and I doubt it will be any less special next year. However, don’t be surprised if Cousins goes a little harder against Chicago, just to prove to his star receiver that “Yeah, you’re better off with me under center than that other guy.” Minnesota’s Week 1 matchup is against the Cincinnati Bengals and Jefferson’s former quarterback, Joe Burrow. Maybe Kirk Cousins will strut his stuff a little bit more for that game proving that he does indeed have the swagger and confidence to win big games.