DeAndre Hopkins argues receivers should be credited for pass interference yards

Jesse Pantuosco
November 13, 2020 - 5:14 pm

Always the forward thinker, DeAndre Hopkins has something he’d like to get off his chest.

The Cardinals star had one of his quieter performances in Week 9, logging just three catches for a season-low 30 yards in a loss to Miami. That’s probably because Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard, who was tasked with shadowing Hopkins, had his hands all over him. Officials flagged Howard four times for defensive pass interference, racking up a combined 61 yards worth of penalties. Hopkins—and I’m sure those in the fantasy football community would strongly agree—believes he should be credited for those yards.

“As long as the ball moves that’s all I care about,” said the four-time Pro Bowler during Friday’s media session. “But I do think the rules should change and receivers should get counted those yards.” Had the pass interferences drawn by Hopkins counted toward his Week 9 receiving totals, he’d have finished with seven catches for 91 receiving yards, a stark contrast from his pedestrian 3-for-30 line.

Pitchers in MLB aren’t responsible for unearned runs (runs resulting from errors) while the NFL’s relatively new adjusted completion percentage metric takes quarterbacks off the hook for passes that are dropped. So why are receivers like Hopkins still paying for the sins of handsy defenders?

Defensive pass interference in the NFL is classified as a spot foul (essentially meaning the ball is placed wherever the flag was committed) under the presumption that, had the defender not illegally interfered, the pass would have been completed. By that logic, you could argue the 61 yards Hopkins gained via penalty should be tacked onto his Week 9 tally.

It’s easy to draw parallels between Howard’s physical approach to guarding Hopkins and the “Hack-a-Shaq” technique employed by teams during Shaquille O’Neal’s NBA heyday. Though Howard’s excessive fouling did Hopkins no favors on the receiving yardage front (he lost his league lead in that category as a result), the 28-year-old took it as a complement.

“When a guy has to hold you when the ball is being thrown your way every time, I think that's a sign of respect," said Hopkins via Darren Urban of azcardinals.com. While some might accuse Hopkins of putting himself first, stats are no laughing matter in the NFL, especially for those who have bonuses and salary incentives tied to their statistical output. Fair or not, players know they are being judged by their production and every yard, even from pass interference, counts.

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