Giants prepare for Justin Jefferson problem in Week 16 matchup

Giants have a tall order against Justin Jefferson
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) breaks a tackle by Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos during a 36-yard touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
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The New York Giants have faced some very talented receivers over the last few weeks. AJ Brown, Terry McLaurin, CeeDee Lamb, and DeVonta Smith all have had some levels of success against a Giants’ defense that is decimated with injuries. 

It won’t get easier on Saturday when the Minnesota Vikings and All-Pro wideout Justin Jefferson await. 

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Jefferson has performed like one of the best receivers in football since being drafted in 2020. The NFL leader in catches (111), receiving yards (1623), and yards per touch (14.3), Jefferson has shaken off his original draft grades of only being good in the slot to be the most complete receiver in football. 

“He (Jefferson) is extremely talented. He’s got good quickness, good body control, and can run any route. They line him up all over the place. I think they do a great job with him. He’s hard to cover in man. He’s got great awareness in zone. He’s good after the catch. He can make contested catches. He’s a problem.” Giants head coach Brian Daboll said at practice Tuesday. 

A problem like Jefferson isn’t easily solved. Only four corners in the game have held Jefferson to under 50 yards receiving (Slay, Okudah, Diggs, and Gardner) while only two have held him to under five catches (Diggs, Okudah). 

The Giants don’t have the corner depth that other teams have though. With Adoree Jackson and Xavier McKinney still out with their own respective injuries, it’ll be up to Fabian Moreau and Nick McLoud to figure out a way to stop the behemoth. 

It also doesn’t help New York that Minnesota, after setting an NFL record for the largest comeback in a single game, is still pushing for the top seed in the NFC playoffs. 

“Give credit to the players, but give credit to him (Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell) and his staff too. They’ve got a lot of good coaches on that staff and to be where they’re at right now is a testament to him and his team. Smart player, a really good guy, good family, he’s done a nice job for that organization.” Daboll added. 

A key to the Giants’ success on Sunday could be pressuring Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins before he can locate his top receiver. To that end, New York might have an advantage with Kayvon Thibodeaux putting forth his best game of the season last week, as well as Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams inside. 

But a player like Jefferson is going to get his numbers no matter what. It’ll be up to the Giants’ coaching staff and its thin corner group to find a way to limit one of the best offensive players in football today. 

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