When will the Texans realize they shouldn’t have traded DeAndre Hopkins?

Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans made a huge mistake trading away DeAndre Hopkins.

Regret will be inevitable for the Houston Texans in the aftermath of trading DeAndre Hopkins.

Of all the moves made this offseason in the NFL, the Texans’ blockbuster trade with the Arizona Cardinals was the most controversial. How could Texans head coach/de facto general manager Bill O’Brien trade away arguably his best player for a running back in David Johnson who is on an albatross of a contract and we’re not even sure if he has the potential to be good anymore?

Hopkins goes from a perennial division winner in Houston to an on-the-rise team in Arizona. He’ll have another NFL MVP candidate quarterback in Kyler Murray rifling him the pigskin. Hopkins will play in the same receiving corps that features fellow future Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. He should have great success on his second NFL team now with the Cardinals.

When will the regret of trading away DeAndre Hopkins set in for the Texans?

One would hope instant buyer’s remorse set in for the Texans back in the spring, but here we are. Even if O’Brien does regrettable things as a general manager, he does win his division regularly. Texans have won the AFC South four of the last five years. While they haven’t been to an AFC Championship game at any point in franchise history, division titles have and always will rock.

Though O’Brien and the rest of the Houston organization believe an AFC South three-peat is on the horizon, I wouldn’t be the first person to tell you it ain’t happening. Even if the toothless Jacksonville Jaguars are rebuilding, the Indianapolis Colts are not and the Tennessee Titans made it all the way to the AFC Championship game as a No. 6 seed. Houston has competition this year.

While Arizona plays in arguably the toughest division in football in the NFC West, the Cardinals have an infinitely easier start to their 2020 season schedule than do the Texans. With an expected road loss coming at the division rival San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, Arizona should be no worse than 4-3 entering its Week 8 bye on Nov. 1.

The Cardinals host the Washington Football Team, the Detroit Lions, then travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to face the Carolina Panthers and then to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Jets in Weeks 2 to 5. Those will be four of the 10 worst teams in football this season. Arizona has a terrific opportunity to go 4-0 in those games and certainly no worse than 3-1.

After that, the Cardinals have two tough games before their bye. They will be at the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 and then host the division rival Seattle Seahawks in Week 7. Arizona isn’t beating both teams, but it feels more likely that they’ll split this pair than go 0-for with the two heading into their bye week. Look for the Cardinals to be above .500 heading into November.

And this is when the regret will start to set in for the Texans. They have an absolutely brutal start to their 2020 NFL season. There may not be a team in the NFL that will have to run the gauntlet right out of the gate like the Texans do. If they don’t take care of business in September, the 2020 campaign has disaster written all over it for O’Brien and the rest of the Texans franchise.

It sounds nuts, but there is a decent chance the Texans start the year in an 0-4 hole. All of sports media will be clamoring for O’Brien to be terminated. Houston has to open the season on the road at the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, Sept. 10. In Week 2, they have to host the other elite team in the AFC in the Baltimore Ravens at home. Good luck with that.

Likely entering Week 3 at 0-2, the Texans have to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Too bad that game is at Heinz Field and the Steelers should have a healthy Ben Roethlisberger back at quarterback. The Steelers won’t be trotting out there Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges or more 21st century Bubby Brister nonsense any more. If “Big Ben” can throw a football, he will start for the Steelers.

In Week 4, the Texans host the NFC North-contending Minnesota Vikings to NRG. It’s an either-way game, but we feel more confident about the Vikings making the playoffs than we do the Texans. Houston should beat Jacksonville at home in Week 5, but they may lose at Tennessee in Week 6 then at home vs. the Green Bay Packers to start the year at 1-6 entering the Week 8 bye.

So when will the Texans’ full-blown Hopkins regret set in? It is happening before we go to the polls and vote in the 2020 United States Presidential Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. But you know what? I can tell you the exact moment the pain of the Hopkins trade to the Cardinals will officially set in. It’s coming in the home date vs. the Jaguars on Oct. 11, and it’s coming in the first half.

Houston will be down 7-3 early to the Jaguars. Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew will have led the Jaguars to a touchdown on their opening drive. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will have to settle for a field goal because a wide-open receiver dropped a gimme touchdown pass on third down. It will be a perfectly thrown ball that Hopkins would have caught for six points.

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A frustrated Hopkins will be picked off on a tipped pass, setting up a short field for Minshew and the Jaguars. On fourth-and-1, Minshew will channel his inner 21st century Ken Stabler magic, scampering to pay dirt to put the Jaguars up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. This is when O’Brien taps into his inner GOB Bluth, admitting to the huge mistake he made. Hello, Darkness.

Look for the Texans to regret trading Hopkins by the middle of October 2020, if not weeks sooner.

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