DeAndre Hopkins put on a clinic versus the Titans totaling 238 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 receptions. This post will show how crisp route running, excellent hands and outstanding ball tracking ability helped Hopkins accomplish this feat.
Stats – 9 receptions on 9 targets, 238 yards, 2 TDs
Situation: 3rd and 4 at HOU 26
Description: Q1 – (13:52) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to D.Hopkins pushed ob at HST 36 for 10 yards (D.Stafford).
Hopkins lines up on the right outside running an out route to the sideline. Titans are in Cover 2 with SS39 Stafford playing man-to-man coverage with Hopkins and CB25 Wreh-Wilson playing deep zone coverage on the sideline.
I think Stafford is trying to hide his intentions to cover Hopkins because he never directly faces him pre-snap, but immediately leaves his position to cover him post-snap. This to me indicates that he was either going to be responsible for the underneath zone cover assignment in the flat or he was going to play the inside man-to-man coverage on Hopkins if he ran a slant or drag route across the screen.
Hopkins runs to the top of his route and then cuts to the sideline where Fitzpatrick places the ball low for Hopkins. Hopkins dives down and catches it for the 10 yard gain on the play. Great catch by Hopkins.
Situation: 3rd and 4 at TEN 15
Description: Q1 – (8:17) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to D.Hopkins to TEN 8 for 7 yards (B.Wreh-Wilson).
Hopkins from the right slot runs an out route. CB Wreh-Wilson is playing off-man coverage with a single-high safety over the middle of the field. Johnson, to the right of Hopkins, runs a stop-and-go route to the endzone pulling his CB in man-to-man coverage with him out of the play.
This is another low ball from Fitzpatrick and Hopkins again shows his ability to dive and make the catch. Hopkins makes a good cut at the top of his route to gain separation on the CB.
Situation: 1st and 10 at TEN 20
Description: Q1 – (6:46) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass short left to D.Hopkins to TEN 9 for 11 yards (B.Wreh-Wilson).
Hopkins lines up on the left outside and runs a hitch route to the first down marker. Wreh-Wilson is playing directly over him but is in Cover 3 and is playing the deep third on the far left side of the field. Hopkins trips on the top of his route and can’t turn his hips all the way around, so when the ball arrives he has to dive awkwardly to the side to attempt the catch. He brings in the ball beautifully making the catch as he is getting tackled by Wreh-Wilson.
On this play, his route was terrible because he trips. The ball was thrown too far to the outside, but Hopkins ends up catching it anyways due to a great adjustment.
Situation: 1st and 10 at HOU 1
Description: Q2 – (10:11) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass deep left to D.Hopkins to HST 32 for 31 yards (G.Wilson).
Hopkins lines up in twins stacks left and runs a hitch route to try to find the underneath zone coverage between the linebackers. Titans are in Cover 2 with three linebacker zones underneath and man-to-man coverage on Johnson on the right outside.
Hopkins is open briefly before CB Wreh-Wilson steps up to cover him. At this point, Fitzpatrick is looking to the right at WR80 Johnson running a drag route across the middle, but he is triple covered.
Fitzpatrick senses the pressure and scrambles left outside of the pocket to the line of scrimmage where he spots Hopkins. Wreh-Wilson abandons his coverage on Hopkins completely and steps up to stop Fitzpatrick from scrambling. Hopkins makes a great move adjusting to the situation and runs up the field wide-open.
Fitzpatrick lobs the ball over Wreh-Wilson, where Hopkins slows down to catch it and then makes it up the field for a large gain on the play.
Give credit to Fitzpatrick for extending the play, Hopkins for finding the open space for his scrambling QB and blame Wreh-Wilson for leaving his deep coverage responsibilities on the play. This play could have gone for more yards if Fitzpatrick put more muscle into the throw as Hopkins had to slow down to make the catch, but overall a great play by Fitzpatrick.
Situation: 1st and 10 at HOU 30
Description: Q2 – (:53) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass incomplete short right to D.Hopkins. PENALTY on TEN-B.Wreh-Wilson, Defensive Pass Interference, 12 yards, enforced at HST 30 – No Play.
Hopkins lines up in the right outside of the trips right bunch. He runs a stop-and-go that completely fools CB Wreh-Wilson in man coverage. In order to prevent a big gain on the play, Wreh-Wilson trips Hopkins for a blatant defensive pass interference call.
Cheating should never be condoned, but this was a great penalty by Wreh-Wilson. If you know you’re going to get burned as a CB, you interfere to prevent a catastrophic gain on the play. Think of it this way: This play resulted in a 13 yard gain as opposed to a 70 yard touchdown. Smart move.
Watch Hopkins’ route and footwork on this play. It’s impeccable. He makes his way to the outside, slows down enough and then stutters making it look like he’s going to cut to the outside or run a curl route back to the sideline and Wreh-Wilson bites on it.
Situation: 1st and 10 at HOU 30
Description: Q2 – (:47) R. Fitzpatrick pass deep middle to D.Hopkins 58 yards, TOUCHDOWN. R.Bullock extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Weeks, Holder-S.Lechler.
Hopkins lines up in the twins stacks left and runs a go route around the 50 yard line he makes a small cut to the left and then small cut back to the right at the 44 yard line. Wreh-Wilson is responsible for the deep coverage on this side of the field. If you watch Wreh-Wilsons eyes you can see that while he is backpedalling he starts watching the quarterback. By the time he turns back his head, Hopkins is already running past him and is a step ahead of him.
Fitzpatrick places the ball perfectly in stride allowing Hopkins to make an uncontested play on the ball. Hopkins brings the ball and runs it in for the long touchdown.
I love the precision Hopkins has in his routes. The extra quick cuts Hopkins makes instead of running a perfectly straight line pulls Wreh-Wilson slightly to the side. Excellent tracking ability to bring the ball in sunlight on the field.
Situation: 2nd and 7 at HOU 23
Description: Q3 – (7:34) R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to D.Hopkins to HST 31 for 8 yards (B.Ghee).
Hopkins from the right outside runs a hitch route against CB38 Ghee’s off-man coverage. Great route by Hopkins. Very precise at the top of the route to turn his body around on the dime.
Situation: 3rd and 8 at TEN 34
Description: Q3 – (4:47) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass deep left to D.Hopkins for 34 yards, TOUCHDOWN. R.Bullock extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Weeks, Holder-S.Lechler.
Hopkins from the left outside runs a slow-go against CB38 Ghee. Hopkins quick step upfield makes Ghee stop in is backpedalling, so that Hopkins can easily turn on the jets and run right by him. Great pass by Fitzpatrick to hit Hopkins in stride for the 34 yard touchdown.
Another great route by Hopkins.
Situation: 3rd and 7 at HOU 40
Description: Q4 – (11:57) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass short middle to D.Hopkins to TEN 4 for 56 yards (J.McCourty; B.Wreh-Wilson).
Hopkins from the left outside runs a drag route over the middle of the field against CB25 Wreh-Wilson’s man-to-man coverage. This is a clear design play to Hopkins. First the the WRs on the opposite side are in trips and the outside two pull their CBs out of the path. Next, TE84 Griffin runs his crossing route almost identical in terms of depth to Hopkins intending to get in the way of Wreh-Wilson. Finally, you can see that Griffin and Hopkins’ routes are not perfectly in sync so Griffin a lunge to interfere with Wreh-Wilson’s path.
This should have been called back for offensive pass interference. According to the NFL rulebook in Rule 8 – Section 5 – Article 2 – Part (e) cutting off the path of an opponent by making contact with him, without playing the ball is illegal. This is clearly what happened as you can watch TE84 Griffin clearly intend to interfere with Wreh-Wilson.
Anyways, the officials miss it and Hopkins grabs the ball after the pick and sprints up the field. WR13 Johnson blocks the exterior CB for most of the play and then finally delivers a chop block to get him out of the play. Hopkins makes a great cut back inside to break the tackle of SS39 Stafford who was playing deep single-high safety on the play. Finally, CB25 Wreh-Wilson and CB30 McCourty have to gang tackle him to the ground after a long 56 yard play.
Situation: 1st and 10 at TEN 24
Description: Q4 – (9:47) (Shotgun) R.Fitzpatrick pass short right to D.Hopkins to TEN 1 for 23 yards (C.Sensabaugh; W.Woodyard).
Hopkins lines up in the trips right bunch and runs a wheel route to the sideline. CB24 Sensabaugh is playing press coverage on Hopkins. Fitzpatrick throws the ball inside shoulder and Hopkins makes an excellent adjustment on the ball to jump in front of Sensabaugh for the reception.
Hopkins dodges another Titans CB25 Wreh-Wilson after the catch and muscles his way to the Titans 1 yard line.
As you can see from the plays above, Hopkins shows outstanding route running and catching ability on his way to gaining 238 yards on the day. The Texans have a very promising future with Hopkins on their roster.