HOUSTON -- Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler was brought in during the offseason in part to pair up with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had a monster 2015 season, despite catching passes from four different starting quarterbacks.
Although Osweiler and Hopkins have connected for two touchdowns, the Pro Bowl receiver’s stats are a far cry from the performance he put up the past season. Through the first quarter of the season, Hopkins has 17 catches on 33 targets for 227 yards. In the first four games last year, he had 31 catches and 60 targets for 409 yards and three touchdowns.
But, Hopkins said, “We won. That’s all that matters.” At this point of the previous season, the Texans were 1-3.
Although Hopkins had only one catch Sunday, he had six targets, which tied for second-highest on the team.
“I’m sure he’s thrilled with the win, but maybe not really happy with only having that catch in the fourth quarter,” O’Brien said. “We’ll work on that and keep trying to get him the ball.”
When asked what he and Osweiler need to improve upon to play better on Sundays, Hopkins simply said, “Just got to go to practice. Do it at practice, make some plays, and relay it over to the game.”
Part of the reason for Hopkins’ career-low 4 yards on Sunday is how the Titans covered him, knowing the way he dominated their defense in the past. In his first three seasons, he had his best stats against Tennessee, with 40 catches for 696 yards and five touchdowns.
“I think they did some things to obviously take [Hopkins] away,” O’Brien said. “Credit to them. We’ve got to do a better job of getting Hop the ball. That’s me.”
Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said he was pleased with the way his team defended Hopkins.
“I thought [we played] pretty well,” Mularkey said. “He is a game-wrecker. The guy can change the game in a matter of plays, and I thought Coach [Dick] LeBeau and the defense did a good job trying to take him away.”
But Mularkey and the defense quickly learned that though the Texans of the past season really had only one receiving threat, with the addition of rookie receiver Will Fuller, Houston now has other ways to win games.
“Fuller made plays,” Mularkey said. “He is a good addition to that team. That is hard. You can take one away, but you can’t take two away.”
Fuller finished with seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He also had a go-ahead 67-yard punt return touchdown in the third quarter.
Osweiler has at least one interception in each of the first four games of this season. Of the six he has thrown this year, five have been on passes intended for Hopkins. Osweiler said Sunday that those turnovers are the result of poor decision-making in the pocket.
“Every single week when I get to work in practice -- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday -- I really feel like I’m going to play a clean football game,” Osweiler said. “I feel like I’m going to be able to stand up here in front of you guys and say, ‘Told you so. I told you I could play a clean game.’ And then I go out there and do something like that again today. Bottom line, it’s not eye manipulation, it’s not really poor reads, I think it’s just poor decisions. It’s poor decisions.
“This team did a tremendous job -- offense, defense, special teams -- of really having my back today and helping me through that. I put the team in some very poor positions, and I know that. It’s not fair to those guys because they played their hearts out today. The decisions will be cleaned up. I will make better decisions. I know I’ve said that before, but I promise you guys that I’m going to clean these interceptions up because that football team is working too hard, and they deserve better.”