Injuries banished the Houston Texans' season to irrelevancy, which is a shame because they still boast two of the most physical freaks in the NFL: Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins. The former has been a game-wrecker despite the loss of J.J. Watt; the latter has carried the offense despite playing with Tom Savage.
Hopkins, in particular, has been ridiculously good. On Monday night, he tortured Ravens corner Jimmy Smith like a cat playing with a mouse. The week prior, he burned All-Pro Patrick Peterson on a two-play sequence that led to a pivotal touchdown in a win. With turnover machine Savage under center, the receiver knows he must make plays to move the chains.
"I feel like it's on me," Hopkins said, via the team's official website. "I want the game to be on me. If it's third-and-1 and we got to get it, I want them to come to me. I want that pressure to be on me because I feel like I work that hard day-in and day-out and just over time to have that pressure on me, and I like it."
Of Hopkins 69 catches, a whopping 52 have resulted in first downs -- that doesn't even count the plethora of pass interference penalties he causes which lead to chunk gains for the offense. Hopkins leads the NFL in TD receptions (9), ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,004) and sixth in catches (69). His body contorting-ability along the sideline is unparalleled, and he makes snags with defenders draped on his back.
South of Antonio Brown, no wideout in the NFL is more deserving of an All-Pro bid than Hopkins.
Reminder: He's doing this with Savage as his quarterback, not Matt Ryan or Ben Roethlisberger. Tom Savage. A quarterback that sails one out of every six targets to Hopkins about 14 yards out of bounds.
Hopkins' production has not waned since wunderkind Deshaun Watson went down with a season-ending injury.
Hopkins by starting QB this season:
Watson: 6 starts, 10.0 targets per game, 6.3 receptions per game, 91.8 yards per game, 6 TDs
Savage: 5 starts, 13.0 targets per game, 6.2 receptions per game, 90.6 yards per game, 3 TDs
"I'll keep saying it week-in and week-out: he's the best receiver in the league and yeah, it's a blessing to have a guy like that out there," Savage said.
It's a blessing for Savage and NFL fans. If it weren't for Hopkins, the Texans' offense would truly be unwatchable.