DeAndre Hopkins is preparing for his second season with the Arizona Cardinals. He was traded on March 22nd, 2020. A move that shocked the football world to its core. Hopkins did not have a normal off-season as the world shut down due to Covid-19.
Fast-forward to 2021, the NFL’s off-season returned to normal activities. Teams held rookie camps, OTA’s, and training camp practices. What does this mean for DeAndre Hopkins? His knowledge of the offense and overall chemistry with Kyler Murray should have improved.
The question is raised, can we see a better version of DeAndre Hopkins in 2021? I believe we can and will. I know you are thinking, how much better can he be? This elevation of play is not entirely linked to his statistics production.
The way Kliff Kingsbury deploys his elite receiver can increase his effectiveness and productivity. In 2020, DeAndre Hopkins aligned to the left of the formation 86% of his snaps. Therefore, this usage created offensive predictability. Placing Hopkins on the move like his time in Houston is the best way to use him.
Also, we must take into account the lack of talent at the receiver position.
Another reason Hopkins can be even better this season, the addition of A.J. Green and Rondale Moore. Opposing defenses were able to focus solely on Hopkins and roll coverage to the left side of the formation. This will be a tougher task to complete with the presence of Green and Moore.
Early in the preseason, Kingsbury gave NFL defenses a glimpse of what Rondale Moore is capable of. The dynamic versatility as a runner and receiver, can pull attention from Hopkins.
Green’s ability to play inside and out provides play calling flexibility. The Cardinals ranked first in the league operating out of 10 personnel (4 WR). Kingsbury could opt to align Hopkins and Green on the same side of the formation. This would create a spotlight to that side and free either Moore or Kirk.
DeAndre Hopkins could have less receiving yards/receptions and a stronger impact for this offense. The last time he caught ten or more touchdowns was in Houston for the 2018 season. Last season, Hopkins secured only six touchdowns.
I would love to see Kingsbury dial up more shot plays and redzone targets for Hopkins. Kyler Murray targeted Hopkins 14 times with seven completions and three touchdowns. This pairing was effective attacking defenses 20 yards or more down the field.
This Arizona Cardinals offense has received plenty of hype and for good reasons. If the new weapons can pull some coverage and pressure from Hopkins, along with better usage from Kingsbury. They can live up to the hype and become a consistent top offense in the NFL.