Van Jefferson has gotten off to a slow start in 2023. Through two games, he has five catches for 33 yards with two drops, one of which may have gone for a long touchdown.
Jefferson was expected to be a big part of the offense this year after the Rams moved on from Allen Robinson II, but he’s struggled to find any sort of rhythm as a receiver – even with Cooper Kupp sidelined. He’s also being overshadowed by Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell, who are both among the league leaders in receiving yards through two weeks.
The Rams obviously want Jefferson to play better, but Sean McVay isn’t ready to hit the panic button. He’s not worried at all about Jefferson’s early struggles because it’s only two games.
“We’re talking about two games here,” McVay said on the Coach McVay Show. “It’s crazy that because those two guys have done so well that it means somebody else isn’t, but that’s not how football works. You’ve got 17 games that you’re guaranteed and so we’re fortunate to have three guys. I thought Benny Skow did a nice job. I thought Demarcus came in and did a good job. You get Cooper back. But the bottom line is this: We love Van Jefferson. He’s got a body of work. I’m not going to allow two games to dictate a certain feeling. I think we can help get him into the flow of games and I know he’s capable of playing at high level. In some instances, that’s been reflective and in some instances, I know he can play better.”
Jefferson was never expected to play the role of Kupp as the Rams’ primary slot receiver. He’s more of an outside receiver who can stretch the field. Nacua, on the other hand, is a slot guy like Kupp, which is why he’s getting so many looks from Matthew Stafford.
But there’s still a role for Jefferson in this offense. It’s a scheme that’s heavy on 11 personnel where three receivers and one tight end are on the field together. The question is whether Jefferson will still get much playing time when Kupp returns because it’ll be tough for McVay to take Nacua or Atwell off the field, given the starts they’ve had in 2023.
In a contract year, things haven’t gone the way Jefferson hoped but if McVay isn’t panicking, fans shouldn’t either.