Several years ago, Devin Hester broke on the scene with the Chicago Bears as a kickoff returner and a punt returner. He set rookie records, and, just as important, stunned fans and forced opponents to acknowledge where he was. In trying to avoid him, they would often kick the ball out of bounds and the Bears would get it at the 40 yard-line.
Since Hester was so effective, the Bears wanted to get him more involved in the offense, so they began using him at wide receiver. He showed a talent for the position. It seemed playing at wide receiver fulltime slowed Hester down with respect to returning kicks, so he was used just as a punt returner. Last week, Hester proved that theory all wrong.
Larry Mayer has posted an article titled “Hester makes most of opportunity to return kickoffs” at the Chicago Bears’ website
Earlier this year, Hester stopped a two-year drought and scored two touchdowns on punt returns, tying the all-time return record set by Brian Mitchell. It had been thought that he was too tired from his wide receiver duties to do as good of a job returning various kicks, but that was not the case. Hester had fallen into a slump. He had gotten to the point where he expected (and we did too!) that he would return every kick for a touchdown. Finally, he eased up on himself.
The Bears have been missing Hester’s impact. His presence would give the Bears better field position.
Last Sunday, Coach Lovie Smith decided to put Hester back at kickoff returner. What were the results? Hester returned kickoffs for 68 and 32 yards and a punt for 42 yards for a total of 142 yards; quite a job!
However, there was also a large return accomplished by Rashied Davis, and this was in part due to keeping the ball away from Hester.
There is a lot of “buzzing” going around the Bears’ camp about the return record; they want to get it for Hester. However, that aside, when you look at the Chicago Bears, you have to leave Devin Hester at returner, whether it is kickoff or punt returner; he needs to be at both places. Further, it doesn’t matter whether or not Hester does well or poorly. Sooner or later, he will punch the ball to the end zone, and teams know this.
By keeping Hester out of the kickoff return spot, the Bears have been hurting their own effort. Hopefully Coach Smith has resolved that issue in his own mind.
Chicago Bears’ Website, Larry Mayer, “Hester makes most of opportunity to return kickoffs”
You Tube Website, DevinHesterMattForte, “Devin Hester Touchdowns”
You Tube Website, The NFLFanzone, “Devin Hester 68-yard kick return”