Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins appeared as though he was on the fast track to super stardom. Statistically improving each season in the league. With a down, but still productive season last year, where does he stand?
In 2015 Hopkins put up very impressive numbers. 111 receptions for 1521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Statistically one of the better wide receivers in the game. However in 2016 Hopkins numbers dropped off. Only catching 78 passes for 954 yards and four touchdowns. So, what happened?
For starters, the Texans had much more desirable quarterback situation in 2015 compared to 2016. While there still was a revolving door, it was a more stable revolving door. The Texans started Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden. This is a much more desirable situation compared to 2016 which featured Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.
Hoyer, Mallett, Yates and Weeden combined for 4058 passing yards and 28 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. The duo of Osweiler and Savage only managed 3418 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The difference between the quarterback production each year has a direct correlation to Hopkins’ numbers. Relatively good in 2015 compared to flat out terrible in 2016. The fact the Texans were able to be as successful as they were last season is a miracle with quarterback play that poor.
Some would point to the running game as a potential reason for the downturn in passing numbers. Although a good thought, the running game was nearly identical in 2015 and 2016. 1731 yards in 2015 and 1859 yards in 2016 respectively. It is only a difference of eight more yards per game in 2016.
Unfortunately for Hopkins he was a victim of circumstance last season. The Texans quarterbacks went from at least average to one of the worst situations in the league last season.
With the crop of quarterbacks Houston has this season, it is expected for Hopkins to bounce back in a big way. The trio of Watson, Savage and Weeden will produce better results than anything involving Osweiler. 16 passing touchdowns just is not enough production from a quarterback with a team hoping to make a Super Bowl run.
Hopkins will only be able to succeed as long as the quarterbacks are at least average. He has produced with average quarterback play his entire career. However, any receiver, no matter how talented, can succeed with bad quarterback play. With at least average play, it is expected for Hopkins to return to his elite status as a wide receiver in the NFL this season.