The Houston Texans played their first game in eight years without DeAndre Hopkins on the roster, as the three-time All-Pro was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals in an offseason deal that sent shockwaves around the league. Houston received David Johnson and a second-round pick in exchange for Hopkins. O’Brien has defended the Hopkins deal on several occasions, but the Texans fanbase hasn’t exactly seen eye to eye with their coach. Johnson certainly did his part in Houston’s first game since the Hopkins trade, finishing with 109 total yards in his debut with the Texans, but it wasn’t enough to help his team get the victory.
Houston’s passing game struggled throughout the night. Deshaun Watson finished with just 253 passing yards (most of which came in garbage time), a touchdown, and an interception. Overall, Houston’s offense struggled to put points on the board until the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand.
Hopkins didn’t hesitate to express his feelings after the Texans’ 34-20 loss to the Chiefs — a game which really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Hopkins has been quiet when asked about his former team and the coach/GM who traded him until now, but it doesn’t sound like he’s all that unhappy to have a new home in Arizona.
On the flip side, Johnson finished with 11 carries for 77 yards and three catches for 32 yards in the loss. Johnson averaged 7.0 yards per rushing attempt, which was his highest career average in a game and joined Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller as the only Texans running backs since 2016 with 100 total scrimmage yards and one touchdown in a game.
Johnson’s 19-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was his longest run longest since Week 11 of the 2018 season against the Raiders and he recorded this longest rushing touchdown since Week 10 of the 2016 season against the 49ers.
Even though Johnson added a dynamic to the Texans offense, the Texans struggled to get the ball downfield as Watson averaged 7.9 yards per attempt. Without Hopkins on the field, it was obvious the Houston passing game was not operating at the same level it had in 2019. Watson had a simplified explanation for the team’s passing game woes.
“The one time I took a shot was the one I took a hit on,” Watson said after the game. “My elbow was hit when I was trying to take a shot. They did a good job of getting back to me on those shots down the field.”
Despite the struggles on offense, Will Fuller finished with eight catches for 112 yards on the night. Fuller extended his streak to 43 consecutive games with a reception to start his career, which is the second-longest streak in franchise history to start a career and the fourth-longest reception streak in team history.
While Fuller played like a No. 1 wide receiver, the Texans certainly missed the presence of Hopkins on the other side of the field. Randall Cobb not getting a target until five minutes left in the game demonstrated how Houston failed to spread the ball around, a focal point of this revamped offense.
Hopkins will get his chance to add insult to injury with a big game for the Cardinals Sunday, the first game with his new team.