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How the Jets Can Slow Down Vikings' Justin Jefferson

The Jets need corner Sauce Gardner to contain Justin Jefferson this week.

This Sunday, the Jets face Justin Jefferson, who is the second-leading receiver in the National Football League.

I guess I should not be surprised at how good he's become for the Vikings. After all, I started hearing about him from my son Isaiah from the time he was 10-years-old in 2020.

That was the year Jefferson was selected in the first-round by Minnesota, and it didn't take too long before our conversations were 'Jefferson this' and 'Jefferson that,' and yes, I had to get him a Vikings' No. 18 jersey for a present.

I don't wonder anymore why Jefferson is his favorite player, especially after a few hours of studying him on game film this season against NO (10/2), CHI (10/9) and WSH (11/6).

In those three games alone he caught 29 passes.

Jefferson can flat out ball, and he will undoubtedly be the biggest test yet for Jets' rookie cornerback sensation Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner.

Only Miami's speedster receiver Tyreek Hill has more yardage than Jefferson, as he's been ripping it up for the land of 10,000 frozen lakes in Minnesota. On the season, Jefferson has 81 catches on 116 targets for 1,232 yards (15.2 avg.), 5 TD and a long of 64 yards.

He's been killing defenses in the short route range.

Minnesota loves to motion Jefferson pre-snap and sometimes even hand it off to him. Heck, once he even ran a trick play against the Bears and threw it back across the field to running back Dalvin Cook.

There's not much he can't do.

Opposing corners show Jefferson a lot of respect and line up frequently in off-man while pretty much conceding the short routes.

However, that went out the window against the Saints. They got right up on him aggressively in the short range, and as a result, they were by far and away the most successful defending those short-range passes.

The thing that makes Jefferson so good is his release.

He's got great size at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds and he knows how to set corners up.

Jefferson sort of skips and then explodes into his routes, leaving corners guessing if he's going to break it off short or take it deeper. They tend to guess he's going deeper, which leaves him and Vikings' quarterback Kirk Cousins playing pitch and catch on all the short stuff.

However, sometimes he really does take off into a full-blown sprint downfield. Corners are then forced to respect his speed, while knowing in the back of their minds, he also has the kind of athletic ability that allows him to slam on the brakes, make hard cuts or run a comeback route.

Needless to say, Jefferson creates a good deal of separation on intermediate routes that feature breakpoints, which is where he does a lot of his damage.

Jefferson is also a bear to cover when running vertically down the sidelines in the intermediate to deeper route levels due to the fact he tracks the ball really well. He additionally can adjust to the ball in mid-air and he has his keen sixth sense when to jump and high point the ball.