Cooper Kupp still NFL’s best receiver despite Justin Jefferson’s ascension

Cooper Kupp still NFL’s best receiver despite Justin Jefferson’s ascension

Justin Jefferson’s play during the Minnesota Vikings’ fluky 13-4 campaign has dropped jaws across the NFL this season. Fans and analysts alike catapulted him to No. 1 when comparing wide receivers. What these talking heads seem to forget is who came before him.

Cooper Kupp was lost in the garbage heap that was the 2022 Los Angeles Rams. Over the course of nine games, the reigning Offensive Player of the Year was well on his way to producing another All-Pro campaign. Unfortunately, Kupp suffered a severe ankle sprain in a loss to the Cardinals and was placed in RI 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 didn’t carry over to the playoffs as he caught seven passes for just 47 yards while held out of the end zone in a 31-24 home loss to the Giants.

Looking at the Vikings’ last three games against the Packers, Bears and Giants, Jefferson came out with a relative whimper compared to his overall output as he totaled 12 receptions for 100 yards and zero touchdowns. How could anyone forget this miss of a performance with the top seed potentially on the line in Green Bay?

There’s absolutely no way Cooper Kupp would be shutout in one half and held to a single skinny catch for 15 yards. Now, I’m not here to slander Justin Jefferson. I believe he’s one of the top five receivers in the NFL. Should his remarkable campaign crown him as the best wide receiver? I think this is something every Rams fan should take issue with.

Once Kupp was lost for the season, those in the league seemed to forget about him. It’s time for a little trip down memory lane, okay? 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 only 10 behind Tyler Higbee’s 108. Once again, the guy missed EIGHT FREAKING GAMES and remained Los Angeles’ top receiver for the second year in a row!

Has the media forgotten his entire Triple Crown season or his Super Bowl LVI MVP performance? If MVP wasn’t exclusively a quarterback award, Kupp would have won it easily in 2021. Sorry to take the only thing you care about about Karen Rodgers, but Cooper was the only one worthy! There was nothing random about his run to the Super Bowl. A look at his dominance over the past two seasons should leave no question as to who is the better dog.

Cooper Kupp has missed 8 games this year. When you factor in what he’s done from Week 1 of 2021, including the playoffs, and through Week 10 of 2022, those are his numbers…

32GS: 253 REC, 3,237 YD, 28 TD

Example: Here is Justin Jefferson in the last 34 games

236 REC, 3,425, 18 TD

— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) January 12, 2023

In every sport, all parties involved are prisoners of the moment. Often we cream our jeans on the latest superstar while forgetting to tip our hats to everyone who has played before them. Kupp’s magic run just a year ago was the greatest receiving season in NFL history and all anyone can do now is talk about Justin Jefferson.

When the lights shone brightest, Jefferson failed to carry the Vikings on his back. Sure, he needs a big-game QB to pair with the former, but I digress. There will come a day when JJ will be considered one of the greatest of all time. Given the start of his career, I wouldn’t expect less.

Until then, Cooper Kupp belongs on top until further notice.

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