NFL.com's Brooks says the Texans might be better without DeAndre Hopkins. Is he right?

Texans Deshaun Watson
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com and NFL Network made some headlines when he said the Texans might actually be better without DeAndre Hopkins. He made the point that Deshaun Watson will now have to use all of his weapons and it will elevate his game. On the surface, it appeared to be a hot take.

But is he right?

Let's start with the obvious; the Texans made a bad deal when they traded Hopkins. They should have been able to at least get a first round pick. But what is done is done.

For Brooks to be right, a few things have to happen. Will Fuller needs to stay healthy, which has never happened. And Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks have to replace Hopkins' production.

Cooks had an off year last year, as did the Rams offense. He had 42 catches for 583 yards and two touchdowns. Cobb was better, with 55 for 828 yards and three touchdowns. So if you get 97 catches for 1411 yards and five touchdowns from the duo, would that be enough? Certainly more is expected of both, but let's assume last year is what they are.

Over the last three seasons, Hopkins' worst year was 96 receptions. That included 13, 11 and 7 touchdowns. His production has been incredible. He has also been ridiculously clutch. Sure, conceivably the new additions could have more production. But does that make the offense better?

Brooks makes some valid points. But the heart of the question remains. Are the Texans really better off?

The simple answer is no. If they had kept Hopkins and just added one of the two, the offense would still be better than it is now. If you buy the contract dispute stuff, then OK, a move was palatable, but only if you got a big return, which they did not. Having said that, they at least added two competent options.

The idea that Watson will have to expand his game is a fair point. He did force the ball to Hopkins at times. Brooks makes a well-reasoned argument, but that's if Watson doesn't also force the ball to Cooks, Cobb, Kenny Stills and possibly Fuller. The loss of a security blanket can not be overstated, either. Watson could count on Hopkins in the biggest moments. Will he be able to count on the new guys?

Hopkins did average a career-low 11.2 yards per catch last season, a number that has declined the past two years. But think of how many five-yard catches on third and four kept drives alive and led to points. How he often stepped up in the fourth quarter when he was needed most. It will be very difficult to replace that.

No, Brooks' take is not really all that hot. The Texans offense could be better if everyone stays healthy and has big seasons. That is a LOT of ifs. But if all that works out, it's possible Brooks will be right.

But not likely. The loss of Hopkins will produce more negatives than positives. But give Brooks credit for taking an unpopular stance and making a solid case.

It's just not enough to sell me.

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