Watson will be operating without Hopkins, a coverage dictator who wins most one-on-one matchups. Instead, he'll spread the ball around to speedsters Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, Randall Cobb and presumably Kenny Stills.
"Anytime you lose a DeAndre Hopkins, I don't know if you're going to be in a better place than you were the year before. He was a guy that could always help Deshaun out, a guy that Deshaun felt extremely comfortable with in certain situations where, I don't want to say he forced the ball to him, but he just had extreme confidence where he could wade on a guy like DeAndre to get open and to make some moves and they just had tremendous trust in each other.
"That's what I want to see moving forward. Can he develop that with someone else? Can they find another guy? I often say for young guys, the greatest asset is having that one guy, we call them dogs now, that one dog you can put on the back side of any concept, or any three-by-one concept, you get that one guy on the back side that you know if I ever get one-on-one, my guy is going to beat the other guy. And when that happens, I can make the game really simple. I can just look at DeAndre and throw it to him every time and use my throwing ability. Kyler Murray is going to benefit from that greatly in Arizona because they didn't have that guy.
"And that's what I wonder now about the Texans, is do they have a guy that can do that. Do they have a guy that can make the game easier on Deshaun? If not, then he's going to have to play the game even better than he's been playing it. I think he's going to have to play better within timing and rhythm than he has in the past. That's going to be interesting to see, to see where Deshaun is. See if he can make that kind of growth and then how that translates to success for their football team because even though they haven't necessarily been a great team over the years, they've been very successful in terms of winning that division and getting to the playoffs.
"But without a DeAndre Hopkins, I think that puts a lot of pressure on Deshaun to have to do even more. And what does that look like? That's always the worry to me, is when you put a young quarterback and say OK we're going to put more pressure on you. Does that mean he's going to try to do more in terms of making those special plays? I want to see him do more in terms of making the routine plays, because I think that's what's going to save this team, not the special. He's going to make the special when he has to.