I said it before the draft and I still am sticking by it — DeAndre Hopkins will be the best wide receiver in this draft class. Of course, after the show he put on in the 4th quarter for the Houston Texans in their second consecutive come from behind victory, it doesn’t sound like such a wild boast.
It was debated wildly, but when most accused him of running a route incorrectly with the Texans trailing by a point led to a poor Matt Schaub throw that resulted in a pick six, many fans were piling on both Hopkins and Schaub. Regardless of who it was on, Schaub didn’t shy away from him down the stretch. With the blitz working so effectively and no one besides Andre Johnson doing much in the receiving game, the Titans challenged Hopkins to be the one who beat them. After a partial quarter and a single possession in overtime, it’s now clear that the challenge was accepted by the Houston rookie.
I predicted earlier this week that this would be Hopkins’ breakout game for the Texans and that he would pick up his first career touchdown. Even in my greatest imaginative efforts I couldn’t have predicted that it would be a game-ending touchdown reception though.
The reason I saw this breakout coming was because of the trust that Schaub showed in him in his rookie debut. Though, now, his first game as a pro seems mild by comparison. After Johnson left the game late in the 4th quarter, DeAndre was elevated to his quarterback’s number one target and he never flinched. With at least three highlight reel catches, saying that Hopkins has arrived is an understatement.
What this means for the immediate future, and present, for the Houston passing attack is intriguing. With equal targets today, thirteen apiece, Hopkins and Johnson combined for 193 yards and a touchdown. The 117 for Hopkins alone is even more amusing when you realize it was with Kevin Walter standing on the opposite sideline. It may seem like a dead horse at this point, but their names will forever be intertwined in Houston Texans lore.
Getting the win is always the most important thing, but what made me the most happy as a fan is the willingness Schaub is showing to simply throw the ball up and let his two stud wide receivers make a play on it. This team has always seemed to shy away from a fade in the end zone, and I said that if Gary Kubiak didn’t make that play call with these two guys this season then he just didn’t get it. Well, heard loud and clear, I guess. Two of Schaub’s three touchdown passes today were off of a fade route, with a sick catch attached to both.
There are plenty of things to be dissatisfied with in this team and how they have started the season. Having to make furious comebacks to win each of these games doesn’t bode well with the murderer’s row of Baltimore, Seattle and San Francisco on the horizon. Their defense has made some really poor plays in defending the pass and the rush has disappeared plenty. I won’t even get started on the kicker Houston currently has employed because I have never considered kickers football players.
I’ll get into all that downer talk over the course of this week. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the victory and imagine the possibilities with this receiving duo and the potential for “Nuk” Hopkins.