EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson’s emergence has pretty much been the antithesis of the Vikings’ season.

While the 21-year-old receiver is putting together a rookie season reminiscent of Randy Moss, the Vikings have been among the NFL’s worst teams, finalizing a 1-5 start with Sunday’s 40-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium.

That’s what Jefferson is thinking about as the Vikings head into their bye week. Not the fact that he has 28 catches for 537 yards and already has established himself as a force in the league.

“I don’t do this for me,” he said. “I want to go out there and win games. I don’t like coming home with a loss. I’ve never been on a losing team. I just want our swagger back.”

A key contributor on the undefeated LSU team that won the national championship last season, Jefferson isn’t used to struggling on the football field. Even as a teenager at Destrehan High School in Louisiana, his teams were consistent contenders for state championships.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“Nobody wants to have a losing season,” Jefferson said. “Nobody wants to come home after every game with a loss. It’s just a learning experience. We have to bounce back. We just need to find ways to score, find ways to stop the other team, and find ways to finish out the game with a W.”

Frankly, if more players on the Vikings were performing like Jefferson, there’s no chance they would be in a race for the worst record in the league. The silky smooth Jefferson has made the game look easy since bursting onto the scene last month in Game 3, against the Tennessee Titans.

“I wouldn’t call it easy,” Jefferson said. “It’s definitely been tough. This is the NFL. This is the top tier. Just going out there and trying to perform and make those big plays for the team.”

That’s the only thing Jefferson cares about at this point. He knows the Vikings have a history of success.

“This team is known for having that swagger and winning games,” he said. “I just want that old team back.”

Cleveland debuts

As good as Jefferson has been to this point, fellow rookie Ezra Cleveland has been a completely different story so far.

Drafted as the presumed left tackle of the future, Cleveland has temporarily shifted positions to help his growth. He made his NFL debut against the Falcons at right guard.

“He did some impressive things and then he had some poor moments,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “For the first time out, it wasn’t too bad.”

It’s unclear whether Cleveland will continue to see playing time on the offensive line moving forward. He likely will cede the position to usual starter Pat Elflein when he’s ready to return from injury.

Cousins struggles

Asked about quarterback Kirk Cousins and why he struggled so much against the Falcons, Zimmer noted, “He might have locked on and predetermined some throws.”

That usually happens during the pre-snap read with Cousins picking where he wants to go based on defensive alignment rather than what he sees when the play goes live.

Cousins “just determined a couple of things a little too soon,” Zimmer said. “He made some good throws in the second half. We just started out so poorly in the first half.”