Deshaun Watson already feeling impact of DeAndre Hopkins trade

Deshaun Watson struggled in the passing game Thursday night.

The Houston Texans got some late scores to make Thursday’s opener against the Kansas City Chiefs look respectable. The final score was 34-20 in a game that saw the Texans offense struggle to find any flow until it was too late.

One of the more shocking moves of the offseason came when Bill O’Brien traded star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for running back David Johnson and draft capital. The back did score a touchdown early Thursday night, but finished with 77 yards on only 11 carries.

The offense was a mess and it is clear the team will have a tough time replacing Hopkins.

Deshaun Watson struggled without his top target

Hopkins was an absolute beast for the Texans. He finished with 1,165 yards in 2019 after posting 1,572 yards the year before that. Now he is in Arizona and Will Fuller was Houston’s leading receiver Thursday night with 112 yards on eight receptions. Next was Jordan Akins with two catches for 39 yards.

You can go down the list and see the reasons why Hopkins was so important. Kenny Stills finished the night with zero receptions on two targets. Brandin Cooks had two receptions for 20 yards and Randall Cobb barely got in the box score with two catches of his own for 23 yards. Stills, Cooks, and Cobb combine for over a $21 million cap hit in 2020.

O’Brien essentially took money he could have given to Hopkins and gave it to several players who have no shot replacing his production. Trading Hopkins only to sign Watson to an extension was one of the more counterproductive moves in recent NFL history.

The Chiefs are the defending champions and the Texans can’t be written off after a Week 1 loss. However, it was an open secret all offseason that the team was worse off without Hopkins. Seeing how eager the Cardinals were to pay Hopkins a record extension should make O’Brien take some time to reflect and consider if he actually knows how to run a football team.