Cardinals offense lost it’s luster without DeAndre Hopkins

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) DeAndre Hopkins
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) DeAndre Hopkins /

It was blatantly clear in 2021 that the Arizona Cardinals scoring attack is less than mediocre when DeAndre Hopkins is sidelined.

On paper, what DeAndre Hopkins accomplished for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021 didn’t appear to be anything special.

There’s no denying that the seven-time Pro Bowler’s final stat line (42-572-8) was nothing to write home about. Sure, Hopkins was sidelined for seven of Arizona’s regular-season matchups due to hamstring and knee injuries. Even so, the 29-year-old’s reception and yardage totals in 2021 were far below what he had produced throughout his career as one of the NFL’s best wide receivers.

Despite Hopkins’ somewhat disappointing numbers, the absence of the wideout had a devastating effect on the Cards scoring attack. Quarterback Kyler Murray, in particular, appeared to be completely lost without the incredibly talented Hopkins to throw to.

Absence of DeAndre Hopkins crippled the Arizona Cardinals late in the season

From Week 15 on, the Cardinals registered a 1-4 record (including the playoff loss) without Hopkins in the lineup. The squad totaled 12,16, 25, 30, and 11 points during those matchups. A big comedown from the impressive amount of scoring that the Redbirds were inflicting on opposing defenses when Hopkins was out there with his teammates.

Up until this past season, Hopkins had missed a total of just two contests since he was drafted by the Houston Texans back in 2013. While making his rounds at the Super Bowl’s Radio Row earlier this week, the former first-round pick spoke of how tough it was to be watching from the sidelines.

"“It’s something I’m not happy with, but that’s life man. I wish I could’ve helped the guys get to the Super Bowl this year. That was more hurtful than the injury itself. Knowing your team needs you to get where they need to get to, I was helpless.”"

The loss of Hopkins was especially felt by Arizona’s offensive unit in the red zone. Despite the veteran’s dropoff in both catches and yards, the 6-foot-1, 212 pounder’s eight touchdowns had him on pace to match a career-high (13) in that category.

Hopkins’ role as a decoy also makes him extremely valuable. Suddenly, fellow receivers like A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Rondale Moore weren’t getting open nearly enough. Hopkins spoke about that issue this past week as well.

"“I don’t want to sit here and act like I have the answer for it, because I don’t. What could help us get to the next step is everybody being on the same page.”"

The good news is Hopkins will be back with the Cards in 2022. The offseason will allow the 10th-year pro to get completely healthy. One thing’s for certain, the return of Hopkins will be a welcome sight for both his teammates and the fans.

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