There has been a lot written and a lot of blame thrown around for the decline of DeAndre Hopkins this season after a breakout 2015 season. But here is the biggest reason for his decline in performance this season.
Much has been written also about Brock Osweiler. While his performance has not been good, he also is not the biggest reason for Hopkins’ decline. It is true that he loves the tight ends, but Hopkins has still been targeted far more often that C.J. Fiedorowicz or Ryan Griffin has.
Also, the new receivers were supposed to help take coverage away from Hopkins, but so far Braxton Miller has been riddled with injuries and made minimal impact and Will Fuller had two big games to open the year and has not done much since. But neither of them are the reason for the decline of Hopkins.
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The biggest factor for the decline of Hopkins is:
That’s right. Last season DeAndre Hopkins was force fed a lot of balls because there was simply nowhere else to go with the ball. Last year the running game was largely ineffective with an average of just 3.7 yards per carry. Alfred Blue’s 698 rushing yards led the team and he averaged just 3.8 yards per tote.
So with little ground game and the next closest receiver, Nate Washington, finishing with just 658 receiving yards, there weren’t many other options on offense. But this year with Miller consistently gaining four-plus yards per carry, they haven’t had to be so reliant on Hopkins.
I’m not saying that Osweiler has not affected Hopkins in a negative way, but without the presence of Miller here to take the pressure off the passing game, Hopkins would likely be putting up the same type of numbers again. It is odd that the reception/target ratio for the tight ends is so much better than it is for Hopkins.
For Fiedorowicz it is 48 catches to 75 targets. For Griffin it is 40 to 61. Those are both about 2/3rds. For Hopkins it is 60 catches to 116 targets, almost half. While it is true that Osweiler has not developed chemistry with Hopkins (though he still can), it is truly Miller that has taken the production away from Hopkins. With 275 touches Miller provided the bell cow back the Texans needed.