Poor DeAndre Hopkins. Whether it’s been piss-poor quarterback play around him, trash organizations or a blend of both, he’s always faced an uphill battle to be one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers.
The artist known has Nuk has largely flourished in spite of all these extenuating circumstances, with only recent injuries and a bit of a sketchy suspension slowing him down of late. Finally seemingly healthy during the 2023 campaign, Hopkins is now dealing with an aging QB in Ryan Tannehill, who’s behind a leaky offensive lien that continues to struggle in pass protection.
Needless to say, when facing a quality opponent like the Baltimore Ravens overseas in London, the margin for error is quite small. So when Kyle Philips is out here muffing punts with one second left in the half to gift Justin Tucker a free three points in an eventual 21-13 Ravens win, you can forgive Nuk’s frustration!
First of all, why a former fifth-round pick with dubious physical tools and a 40-yard dash that barely cracks 4.6 seconds is your return man is beyond me. Electrifying and explosive, Kyle Philips is not. Combine that with the inability to cleanly field a punt, or at least the football IQ to, you know, let the damn ball LAND in this scenario, and you’re going to anger some teammates.
How does this epitomize the Titans? Well, anyone involved in their passing attack (Philips is a slot receiver specialist) or even psuedo-adjacent to it keeps costing the team in big spots. If this Tennessee crew had a competent o-line or any other weapons outside of Nuk and Derrick Henry, they’d be in serious shape. Instead…stupid crap like this happens.
It’s no secret the Titans have struggled to land talent on offense beyond Henry. Head coach Mike Vrabel is doing his best to make lemonade out of a lemony-tart AKA bad secondary. But we all know, Tennessee has had a subpar roster for quite some time. Vrabel is pulling rabbits out of hats and other places just to keep them competitive every week, not to mention handing the ball to King Henry whenever possible.
Still wild to me that Hopkins reportedly had the choice between the Bills and Titans and chose the latter. Sure, Tennessee was more desperate for a playmaker than Buffalo and could pay him more money I would assume. If you’re Hopkins, playing second fiddle to Stefon Diggs and catching passes from the likes of Josh Allen has to sound pretty good right about now.
With a 2-4 record in the loaded AFC, Hopkins and the Titans are playing a brand of football better suited for 1995. They’ll need to do some soul searching and perhaps consider a schematic overhaul in their passing game to turn this thing around.