clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Jets vs. Texans: DeAndre Hopkins Makes It Easier for Everybody

New, comments
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Great players in the NFL produce in ways that are obvious, but their mere presence also makes things easier on everybody else in subtle ways. Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins currently rates in the top four in the NFL in the three major statistical receiving categories, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Because he is such a force, he opens things up for the rest of the offense just by being on the field. Monday's win for the Texans over the Bengals alone has numerous examples, and this was in a game where Houston was not particularly great on offense.

On this play, you can see the Bengals roll a linebacker to the right of the defense in Hopkins' direction to clog a potential passing lane to him. This forces a second linebacker to drop into his zone further to the right than he normally would, opening a bigger hole in the zone which the Texans exploit.

On this play, I believe the Bengals are playing zone. It looks like what happens is the corner, conscious of the threat Hopkins is, to pass him off to a deep safety late, opening room underneath for another Texans target to work for a completion. This is a play where it is tough to say with 100% certainty. The other possibility is Hopkins just receives double coverage, in which case the Bengals lost a defender who could help underneath. In either event, Hopkins drew coverage to open things up for a completion.

On this play, the impact is subtle. At the snap, a linebacker shades slightly to his left, again to try and clog a passing lane to Hopkins. This little movement opens just enough room for the slot receiver to work and for Houston to complete a pass into a tight window.

Sometimes a top receiver draws double and triple teams, and the impact on a play is obvious. In other cases, there is something smaller that might leave a yard or two more of open field or one second longer a window is open. In the NFL, that can make all the difference in the world. These are what top level receivers do. Brandon Marshall frequently has a similar impact. It does not always jump off the page, but it is there.

That is the type of impact a player like Hopkins has. What can the Jets do to counter it?

They need a top level player of their own to perform. This is why Darrelle Revis is paid so much. The Jets rely upon him to be able to shut down threats on the other team and minimize their need to help and open up the field for secondary threats.