Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins and the Patrick Ewing Theory

Former Houston Texans/current Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Former Houston Texans/current Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans are going to begin life without DeAndre Hopkins but his absence does come full circle with the Patrick Ewing Theory. What is it? Look.

With the season getting closer to start, the excitement and curiosity of what the new-look Houston Texans‘ offense can be as gotten fans geared up. While the naysayers will think failure after the trade for DeAndre Hopkins is to be expected, there could be a theory that might play well to the Houston Texans’ edge.

A few entries ago, I wrote about the five questions that we as Houston Texans’ fans would like nothing more than to have answered. The first three of them involved our offense. To summarize the questions, Deshaun Watson is working with a new injury-plagued running back and an injury-plagued wide receiving core that is extremely talented when healthy. Oh, and one of those receivers will not be DeAndre Hopkins for this year.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re used to hearing people say what a terrible trade this was and how dumb we are. It only adds to the dumpster our head coach has created in Houston right now. Trust me, I’ve been one of those folks. Yet, the time has gone by and I’ve gotten a different perspective to where this trade made sense to a degree, but the return wasn’t as ideal.

Recently, but quietly, the Houston Texans’ trade has started to make more sense. Pro Football Talk wrote down an article that Hopkins wasn’t holding out of Arizona’s training camp, but there might be a situation that could be a problem. In other words, they were questioning whether Hopkins was using an injury or some tactic to get a new deal. This has been denied by Hopkins as expected, yet it can only make fans wonder if Hopkins might be about to experience a different situation that might not be comfortable.

A while back, I said the only historical trade in comparison to the Hopkins deal that could help the Houston Texans was the infamous Herschel Walker trade. That trade saw the Vikings give up five players, with each being tagged as having a draft pick attached to go with more draft picks in the near future. That trade led to a dynasty in Dallas. It was a move that got criticized because the Cowboys were already a bad team and Minnesota struck a jackpot. Instead, the value they got was taken away by taxes while Dallas struck it rich.

In the case of the Houston Texans, they’re already a playoff team and yet, they make this trade and get little in return. The trade has been mocked and criticized as expected. Yet, if we think logically and for once, put all emotions aside, it makes sense. Yes, the Texans have players that had suffered the injury bug, but when healthy, this is a team that could be devastating.

Which brings me to what I have in mind. The Texans were good with Hopkins, but without him, they could be better. It sounds crazy saying this since there are people who still call the team crazy for making the trade. Yet, if this works out for the Texans, it would be claimed as a big win for the team. As much as I love DeAndre Hopkins and what he brought to our team, he might be the latest example of the so-called Patrick Ewing theory.

What is the Patrick Ewing Theory?

You know Patrick Ewing, the NBA Hall-of-Famer. He was one of the best centers to ever play in the NBA. Drafted first overall by the New York Knicks, Ewing became a big piece for a Knicks team that was one of the best in the ’90s but came up short each time to either Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Reggie Miller and the Pacers, and of course, Hakeem Olajuwon and the legitimate champion Houston Rockets.

Yet, at some point during his career, there was an observation made by Bill Simmons and his friend Dave Cirilli. The theory goes that a team somehow plays better when their star player isn’t on the playing surface because of rest periods, injuries, or being on another team. The star player gets the attention from the media and fans, but doesn’t really help the team win anything of significance as far as high stakes. Then, that player leaves the team and suddenly, that team is written off by the media.

According to Jeffrey Ballone of Medium.com, two things must come out for this theory to work.

1) A team somehow plays better when their star player is injured or on the bench.

2) A team reaches new heights immediately following the departure of a star player.

For example, in 1999, Patrick Ewing suffered an Achilles’ tendon ending his season while the Knicks were battling the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers. The Knicks were written off and everyone saw Indiana’s title chances increase. Yet, New York surprised the Pacers by winning the series in six games.

Recently, sports have seen its fair share of Ewing Theories:

1) 2000 Seattle Mariners – Deal Ken Griffey Jr in the offseason, reach the ALCS against the Yankees as a Wild Card Team

2) 2000 Philadelphia Flyers – Lose Eric Lindros to a concussion, finish first place in the Eastern Conference and reach the conference finals.

3) 2007 New York Giants – Tiki Barber retires, which then leads the Giants to win the Super Bowl upsetting undefeated New England in the process.

4) 2017-19 Boston Celtics – Kyrie Irving misses entire 2018 playoffs and Celtics reach conference finals. Irving leaves Celtics in 2019 and Boston finishes with the third-best record in 2019.

5) 2017-18 Philadelphia Eagles – They win the Super Bowl with backup quarterback Nick Foles, who then loses starting job to MVP candidate Carson Wentz. Wentz gets hurt again and Foles leads Eagles to the second round of playoffs.

6) 2019 Washington Nationals – Lose Bryce Harper to rival Phillies in free agency. They win the 2019 World Series. ;(

The Texans could very well fit in this category. Last season, Hopkins caught seven touchdown

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passes, which was tied for first along with tight end Darren Fells. Even though he had over 1100 yards receiving last year, the Texans were 2-4 in games when Hopkins had over 100 receiving yards while they were 9-2 when he caught under 100 yards. In the playoffs, Hopkins only had one career touchdown reception and he was pretty inconsistent.

None of this by any means says that DeAndre Hopkins won’t have the same level of success in Arizona as he did with the Texans. He can and probably will elevate the Cardinals to a big threat in the NFC West. This is more a pro-Texan argument than an anti-Hopkins claim. Hopkins was a talented receiver, but now the Texans can really show that they don’t need Hopkins to win. This trade could be one that takes the Texans to the top.

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But again, it all comes down to the health of the team. Protect Deshaun Watson for 16 games plus potential playoffs, keep the wide receivers and running backs healthy, and win against teams that are a bit better than they are. If the Texans can succeed, then the Patrick Ewing theory could claim another stat.