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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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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