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Texans’ Struggles in the Post-DeAndre Hopkins Era

Houston Texans

It is safe to say that this season has not *exactly* been ideal for the Texans, with the team sitting at 4-11 after Week 16 and being eliminated from playoff contention. Back in July, I took a look at what the Texans might look like after DeAndre Hopkins was traded to Arizona. Fair to say that I was too optimistic, as the Texans have been tripping over themselves week after week. With the Texans’ poor showing this season, I thought that it would be a good idea to address the immediate shortfalls of the Texans’ post-Deandre Hopkins era.

Finding New Targets

The Texans’ struggles this season have only proved Hopkins to be an irreplaceable receiver, both in terms of talent and off-field issues. The path to replace Hopkins has been difficult due to a variety of factors.

Will Fuller
Image Courtesy of House of Houston

Although wide receiver Will Fuller was having a phenomenal season, his run ended at the end of November due to a suspension brought on by a violation of the NFL’s policies on performance-enhancing substances. Fuller apologized to Texans fans on Instagram and said that his suspension was the result of a mistake of a medical professional “who prescribed medication that he believed to be permitted under the NFL’s drug policy.” Fuller’s suspension was extremely unfortunate for both himself and the Texans franchise.

Right before his suspension, Fuller actually had more receiving yards and touchdowns than Deandre Hopkins had at the same time last season. Fuller’s time in the NFL has been marred by injury, so it is especially unfortunate to have him off the field due to a suspension. Brandin Cooks was named starting receiver after Fuller’s untimely suspension and has been performing well. Despite the Texans’ loss to the Bengals on Sunday, Cooks completed seven out of 10 targets for 141 yards.

“We stink”

Image Courtesy of Houston Chronicle

Although the loss of Hopkins was the immediate concern for Texans fans, the lack of Hopkins has not been the only issue for the team. J.J. Watt ripped into his teammates for their lack of effort in a press conference after Sunday’s loss, saying that “if you can’t go out there and you can’t work out, you can’t show up on time, you can’t practice, you can’t want to go out there and win, you shouldn’t be here.”

Watt was clearly unhappy with the team’s performance, and went as far as saying that the team “stink(s)” and played “horrendously” against the Bengals. Watt’s comments indicate that low morale is widespread and that some players seemed to have stopped trying entirely. Winning games has not gotten any easier without Hopkins and the Texans’ 2020-2021 season is yet another example of a risky trade move gone wrong. Houston has paid for such an egregious trade and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


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