NEW ORLEANS – On Sunday, Justin Jefferson joined a long and illustrious line of Vikings receivers who yelled at their quarterbacks, meaning he is in danger of earning the label that applied to Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs before him.
There are words for guys like Jefferson, and those words are "Usually correct.''
Call Jefferson and his peers divas if you like.
Whatever label you apply, history indicates that their outbursts are sometimes justified and occasionally foreboding.
As Jefferson, the Vikings and paranoid fans scramble to excuse Jefferson's outburst on Sunday, when he yelled something like "Throw the ball!'' at quarterback Kirk Cousins after a misfire into the end zone in another bad loss, those who yelled before should be remembered.
Cris Carter wasn't above throwing a tantrum. He's in the Hall of Fame.
Randy Moss so dominated the Vikings' organization with his moods that they traded the most talented receiver in NFL history in his prime for a bag of not-magic beans.
Thielen's sideline argument with Cousins in 2018 hinted that not all was right in the offensive meeting room and foreshadowed Diggs' discontentment.
Diggs forced his way out of the Vikings' organization and is having a career year for one of the NFL's best teams.
Should they all have held their tongue? Maybe. But they play pivotal positions in an emotional sport. They run 50 or 60 sprints into the face of trash-talking defenders, and they can help their teams only if the ball is thrown their way.
Receivers can be rude and right.
Take Carter, Moss, Thielen, Diggs and Jefferson. All five are highly intelligent players. They know when they're open, they know when the quarterback missed a chance at a game-turning play.
Of those five, only Moss took his discontentment to extremes, misbehaving off and on the field, walking off the field on his team, and, as a Viking, taking a Vikings podium after a game in New England to praise the Patriots. Moss was an outlier as an athlete and personality.
Carter, Thielen, Diggs and Jefferson all are admirable players and competitors who occasionally have trouble muting themselves when their quarterback can't do the job.
Remember, what people say during arguments is what they've been holding in all along. If Jefferson yelled about that one pass, it was probably in reaction to Cousins frequently checking down and missing chances to get the ball to one of the best wideout duos in the league.
One loud sentence from Jefferson doesn't spell doom for the team or his relationship with Cousins. But it is revealing of ongoing frustration.
And with Thielen, Diggs and Jefferson, the frustration comes from an obvious source. They play with a quarterback who has the arm talent to make every throw required of a top-tier passer, yet seems to leave all those around him, in Washington D.C. and Minnesota, frustrated.
From the press box, watching routes develop in real time, what you see is Cousins, even when unpressured, often choosing to make the safest possible throw.
When you have great wideouts, sometimes you have to give them a chance to make a play. Both are capable of the spectacular catch, and both are capable of drawing pass interference penalties.
Imagine the great catches Carter and Moss wouldn't have had a chance to make if their quarterbacks had decided to throw those passes to a tight end in the flat.
Checking down to Tyler Conklin and C.J. Ham might seem like a good idea when you're under constant pressure, but even when Cousins does have time he often seems spooked.
The usual excuses persist: The offensive line isn't good enough at pass blocking, and the defense is a shell of itself, meaning that 27 points against the Bears turns out to be not enough.
Both are true. Both would be better applied to a young or unproven quarterback.
Cousins is a productive, veteran starter making big money. NFL teams pay their quarterbacks to make everyone around them better.
Cousins seems to leave his receivers bitter.
Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • email@example.com