The Minnesota Vikings are very clearly a good football team. Flawed, yes, but good. They are elite on offense largely because they employ the NFL’s best wide receiver in the form of Justin Jefferson. In the midst of another insane year, he remains an afterthought in the MVP discussion. Has the time come to rename the MVP or reinvent the award altogether?
As things stand with just four games left, Justin Jefferson has racked up 1,500 yards to lead the NFL. He is catching passes at a blistering rate, and despite having a few clunkers along the way, has had nothing short of an exceptional season. He needs another 500 yards to become the first wide receiver to surpass 2,000 yards in a season, and can break Calvin Johnson’s singe-season yardage record with a few less.
We’re talking rarefied air that we’ve never before seen in the game. It’s too bad he can’t be honored above all else for it.
The last time the NFL MVP was not a quarterback happened during the 2012 season. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards that season, nearly breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. He wound up missing it by just eight total yards.
You’d then need to go back to 2005-06 when Shaun Alexander and LaDanian Tomlinson won the award in back-to-back seasons. Since 2001, a non-quarterback has won the award just those three times. It’s truly impressive how little consideration has been given to anyone not under center.
Since the award’s inception in 1957, no wide receiver has ever won an MVP. There have been more than a handful of Hall of Famers to play during that span, and yet none of them were given true consideration. That’s the uphill battle that Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson is currently up against.
Online bookmaker Bovada currently lists the Vikings star tied for sixth. He’s behind quarterbacks Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Tua Tagovailoa. Of those, Hurts is clearly the most deserving, but it seems odd that Burrow and Tagovailoa have better resumes than Jefferson to this point. There’s also the caveat that nothing about what these guys are doing is unprecedented. Hurts has the best case due to his running ability, but Jefferson could be breaking an NFL record.
At 100/1 odds, Jefferson’s chances are graded even with Geno Smith and Tyreek Hill. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback has become a great comeback story, but he is certainly a stretch for any MVP consideration. Hill is squarely in the picture with Jefferson for wideout production this year, but currently trails him in the yardage category. With the pair putting up such prolific seasons, it’s too bad they can’t be taken more seriously.
It is fair to note that Jefferson is the odds-on favorite to win the Offensive Player of the Year award, but that should strike most as odd. If he’s more valuable on offense than the quarterbacks he’s competing with, you’d like to think he could claim the same level of value when it comes to the MVP award.
It’s long been known the MVP is for quarterbacks, and despite Jefferson eyeing Megatron, he’d likely need a miracle to generate something unprecedented for it.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.