In a recent radio interview, Houston Texans wide-receiver DeAndre Hopkins expressed his unhappiness with his own performance during the 2014 season. He also seems to have a sense of missed opportunity, believing that his team can achieve more than they were able to last year.
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"“I’m not happy with what I did,” said Hopkins, “I had an okay season”"
This may seem strange given that Hopkins was the Texans leading receiver, as well as accounting for the 12th most receiving yards in the NFL in 2014. Along with running back Arian Foster he was one of the two best offensive weapons for his team, and a lone bright spot for a passing game that often struggled to be successful.
Hopkins’ 1,210 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns were both considerable improvements from his rookie season, and he showed an ability to be successful even with a very uncertain quarterback situation. The Texans started four different players behind center last season, three of whom threw at least as many interceptions as touchdowns.
With so much turnover at quarterback including injuries and ineffectiveness, many people would give Hopkins a pass for not having as good of a season as he would like, but he won’t even excuse himself. Hopkins has been noted in his confidence, his NFL.com Draft Profile from 2013 pointed out that while his college nickname “Nuk” stemmed from his favorite brand of pacifier as a baby, he also claimed it was due to his own explosiveness in the field.
With this kind of confidence in his own abilities, it’s understandable that the 22 year-old feels he still has much room to improve, and as one of Houston’s best players he knows his team’s success is dependent on him. He’s going to continue to work to be better, and never be content with personal success if it doesn’t reflect on the team as a whole.
His refusal to become complacent may be a key feature for Houston as they move forward. Following the departure of Houston legend and current Colts receiver Andre Johnson, Hopkins has been forced into a leadership role, but has accepted this gladly.
"“Coaches are going to help them transition into this offense, but a lot of wide receivers in there look up to me because we don’t have 80 (Andre Johnson) here anymore.” said Hopkins when asked recently about his role on the team."
Clearly this is a man who is ready and willing to not only work towards the betterment of himself and his team, but accept responsibility when things don’t go perfectly. He loves this pressure and responsibility, saying he likes the pressure because he knows he is going to be successful.
Even after a 2014 season that most people would feel was more than adequate, Hopkins doesn’t think he did well enough. Instead he’s making a vocal effort to remind himself and his teammates that there is still so much room to improve.
If the team as a whole can adopt DeAndre’s lack of complacency and desire to improve, they can certainly be successful after narrowly missing the playoffs with a winning season in 2014. They seem to be only a few steps away from being contenders, and with determined players like Hopkins in leadership roles, I think they will get there sooner rather than later.