Jaire Alexander calls WR Justin Jefferson’s big Week 1 game ‘a fluke’
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander thinks as highly of Justin Jefferson as he does about any receiver in the NFL.
He just doesn’t think the Minnesota Vikings star will repeat his performance from the season opener — 11 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the 23-7 beating of the Packers on Sept. 11 — when the two teams meet again at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
“You’ve just got to be real: He don’t jump in no super suit and get dressed and jump outside, you hear me?” Alexander said Thursday. “I don’t either, sometimes. But he [is] human, is what I’m saying. We ain’t putting too much on nobody.
“He’s a really good receiver. But at the end of the day, I’m a really good corner. We’ve got really good corners, we’ve got really good linebackers, D-line, whatever it is. You don’t want to put too much focus on that one person because it’s like, the first game, that was a fluke.”
Alexander, who was named to the Pro Bowl this season for the second time in his career, said Jefferson is among his top three receivers.
“Davante Adams No. 1, and I think [Miami’s Jaylen] Waddle might’ve snuck in there as of this past weekend,” Alexander said. “I think he’s a really good receiver.”
Both Alexander and fellow cornerback Rasul Douglas downplayed this season’s first meeting. In fact, they said they did not spend any time going back to watch film of what Jefferson did when he had six of his catches for 158 yards and both touchdowns in the first half.
“I don’t really remember that game,” Douglas said. “I kind of knocked all the first-half-season games away.”
However, it’s not like Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry has ignored that first meeting. The defensive coaches included several of those plays in their film cut-ups this week.
“In an NFL football season, it was a long time ago,” Barry said. “But we studied it and we looked at it and of course there’s things that they did that they still do. So, of course we looked at those things. But you live and learn from every experience, and that’s definitely one we learned from and on to the next one.”
Since then, Douglas has moved from the slot position to an outside cornerback spot, and Alexander has been used on occasion to follow a specific receiver throughout a game — a strategy Barry did not employ against Jefferson in the opener.
“Well, [Jefferson] is going to get his touches,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “As a matter of fact, it’s funny you ask that because I was looking at his game-by-game production, and they do a great job of moving him around. That’s why it presents some challenges. Unless you just want to go lock him and play man, which opens a new can of worms every snap, it’s hard to just account for where’s going to be. I think you’ve got to do a great job of giving him different looks, but you always got to be mindful of where he’s at on the field.”
On Thursday, before Alexander made his comments, Jefferson told reporters in Minnesota that he was “surprised on some routes of me being open” in Week 1.
“As you can see on some of the plays, I was acting like somebody was going to be there and nobody was there. So I’m definitely expecting them to play a little differently,” Jefferson said. “I definitely remember Jaire [Alexander] saying he was wishing he could play me man-to-man more and be on me more. So I’m pretty sure they’re going to have a different plan than what they had the first game of the season.”
The Packers (7-8) would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss Sunday combined with a win by either the Detroit Lions (over the Chicago Bears) or the Washington Commanders (over the Cleveland Browns). Even if they win their last two games, they’ll need help in the form of either one loss by the Commanders or two losses by the Giants to get in.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.