ARIZONA CARDINALS

Kyler Murray: Moving DeAndre Hopkins around necessary for Cardinals offense

Oct 26, 2022, 5:15 PM
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals lines up during the NFL game at State Fa...
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals lines up during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on October 20, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 42-34. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Before the start of the season, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury evaluated how to best utilize wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins upon his return from suspension in Week 7.

Arizona’s 42-34 victory over the New Orleans Saints displayed the conclusion Kingsbury and his staff came to: capitalizing on the wideout’s versatility by moving him inside and outside on both sides of the line.

Hopkins had never lined up in the slot for 25% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps in a game since arriving in the desert in 2020. The three-time All-Pro has been Arizona’s X receiver, but he moved inside for 42.4% of offensive snaps Thursday, according to Pro Football Focus.

“This offseason we talked about just trying to maximize him looking at some of the other pieces, where he would fit best,” Kingsbury said. “And we’ve made a conscious effort to really try and move him around and do a better job with that. I think he has a better understanding of our offense now and the complete scheme, not just what he does. And I think that’s helped all of us.”

Hopkins, no matter where he lined up, got open Thursday with 10 catches on 14 targets and 103 yards, his most since 2020.

He created 2.67 yards of separation on average, most on the team, according to Next Gen Stats. That 2.6-2.7-yard range includes receivers Ja’Marr Chase, A.J. Brown and Mike Evans, to compare.

Quarterback Kyler Murray is all for the plan of moving Hopkins around, noting that evolution is necessary to keep defenses on their toes.

“His first year here he had 1,400 yards,” Murray said. “I don’t know how. We literally just, he lined up on the left side of the field and we just went to work. Every week, it was, ‘Why do people allow us to do this?’

“Last year, he was moving around a little bit more, ended up getting hurt and stuff like that. But I think for us to easily give him easy completions and get the ball in our best player’s hands, got to move him around.”

Hopkins has prior experience moving about, as he set up in the slot on 36% of offensive snaps in the slot during his final season with the Houston Texans in 2019. He has lined up out wide more often during his two years in Arizona than he had at any point with Houston, according to PFF.

Murray called the Cardinals’ receiving corps one of the best in the NFL, and it has not been at full strength all year. Hopkins is working back into the offense after having not played since December 2021, Robbie Anderson is learning the playbook after coming over in a trade last week and Marquise Brown is on injured reserve.

The quarterback, like his head coach, feels that Hopkins switching up his spot opens the game up for the other targets like Rondale Moore — who played a career-high 79.4% of snaps out wide in Week 7 — or Greg Dortch.

When Brown gets back — reportedly in five weeks — having him and Hopkins work inside and out can create mismatches and give defenses a lot to think about.

“The more we can move him around, makes people you know worry about him, which is a given, other people are going to be open,” Murray said.

Kingsbury said he will utilize Hopkins how he sees best based on matchups going forward.

The head coach noted he was excited to see how Hopkins will perform with a full week of practice under his belt for the first time this season.

Life Changer Loans
J.J. Watt at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) Kyler Murray at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) Marco Wilson at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) Newly signed kicker Rodrigo Blankenship at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) Rondale Moore running at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) Isaiah Simmons at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) J.J. Watt at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins talking at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports) A.J. Green at Arizona Cardinals practice on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Tempe. (Alex Weiner/Arizona Sports)

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals TE Zach Ertz, his wife Julie and son Madden (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ Zach Ertz not letting knee injury sideline him from giving back

Arizona Cardinals TE Zach Ertz can't contribute on the field for the rest of 2022, but that hasn't stopped him from doing so off of it.
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) makes a one-handed catch in front of Los Angeles ...
Arizona Sports

Patriots-Cardinals injury report: Rondale Moore, DeAndre Hopkins out Thursday

Rondale Moore and DeAndre Hopkins were out Thursday ahead of the Arizona Cardinals' Monday Night Football game vs. the New England Patriots.
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray on Patrick Peterson criticism: ‘I know who I am’

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray went from a peaceful bye week away from football to dealing with criticism in the form of Patrick Peterson chatter.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals DL Zach Allen (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

With miniscule playoff chances, Cardinals lean on pride

Playoff hopes are nearly nonexistent at this point for the Arizona Cardinals. Individually, there remains a lot to play for.
2 days ago
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reviews print outs of previous plays during the firs...
Arizona Sports

Behind Enemy Lines: Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick focuses on Patriots’ execution

Entering a Week 14 tilt against the Arizona Cardinals, the New England Patriots offense led by Mac Jones is faced with question marks.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals WR Greg Dortch (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Tyler Drake

Kingsbury: Cardinals’ Greg Dortch ‘has made big strides’ with thumb injury

The Arizona Cardinals are hoping to get a handful of names back in the mix at some point or another for the final stretch of the 2022 season.
3 days ago
Kyler Murray: Moving DeAndre Hopkins around necessary for Cardinals offense