Behind the Numbers: DeAndre Hopkins’ Cardinals Debut

(AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

DeAndre Hopkins had a debut to remember. The wide receiver had high expectations going into his first game with the Cardinals and thrived as the Bird Gang dropped the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers 24-20 on Sunday.

In total, Hopkins hauled in 14 passes for 151 yards on 16 targets. It’s eye-popping numbers, but where did he make the biggest impact? 

Let’s take a look, reception by reception:

Catch #1 – 1/10 – 3-yard reception
Catch #2 – 1/10 – 1-yard reception, bubble screen
Catch #3 – 3/6 – 6-yard reception – outside hash, converts 1st down

This next drive is where it feels like he found a rhythm, making multiple catches on two separate drives to round out a strong first half. 

Catch #4 – 1/10 – 12 yards – screen on left side, converts 1st down
Catch #5 – 1/10 – 15 yards – good out route, converts 1st down

These next two catches come right before halftime, resulting in a career-high 56-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez to make it 13-10. 

Catch #6 – 1/10 – 12-yard reception, Hopkins gets hands under a potential short-hop, converts 1st down
Catch #7 – 2/10 – 5-yard reception 

So Hopkins’ seventh reception sets up Gonzalez’s field goal. Nuk and Larry Fitzgerald are already on the same page as they waste next to no time getting set up for the spike. Hopkins gets tackled with 10 seconds left and the offense gets reset in eight seconds. That field goal wouldn’t have been the difference on the scoreboard, but the moment certainly shifted heading into halftime.

Catch #8 – 2/17 – 9-yard reception
Catch #9 – 3/8 – 12-yard reception – left out, converts 1st down

This 1st down conversion is back-to-back completions from Murray to Hopkins and erases a 2nd and 17. 

Catch #10 – 2/8 – 8-yard reception – deep in AZ territory, converts 1st down

The Cardinals were deep in their own territory, and this catch helped extend a drive and play the field position game when it was still a grind-it-out type game for both teams.

Catch #11 – 1/10 – 18-yard reception – over the middle, converts 1st down
Catch #12 – 2/8 – 7-yard reception – screen, creates 3rd and short
Catch #13 – 2/10 – 11 yards – good juke to pick up six more yards, converts 1st down
Catch #14 – 3/6 – 33 yards to the 1-yard line, crossing route just beyond the 1st down, converts 1st down

This will be the highlight of the day for Hopkins. The near-touchdown was one of the few times Hopkins was able to break free in some open space. This reception, his career-high 14th of the day, set up Kenyan Drake’s go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown. 

The Arizona Cardinals had 12 passing 1st downs in the game. Hopkins converted nine of them. The wide receiver accounted for 65.7% of Kyler Murray’s passing yards on the day. ESPN’s Mina Kimes predicted Hopkins could help Murray in the intermediate passing game, and he certainly provided that in Week 1.

 The Cardinals had a statement victory against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. They have expectations and met them in Week 1.

The former #1 overall pick has a #1 wide receiver. The duo put up these type of numbers after a far from traditional offseason and plenty of uncertainty heading into Week 1.

This is your warning: You’ve been put on notice, NFC.