FALCON POINTS

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

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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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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