Lovie Smith and the Chicago Bears spent a fifth-consecutive offseason in 2012 building hype for what they continued to call the “Hester Package.” Only season-after-season we never saw it come to fruition. Frustrating, right?
This much I know about Devin Hester: he relishes being the best, and his continual struggles at wide receiver may be at the heart of his current discontent. So when Hester said he would contemplate retirement following the announcement of Lovie Smith’s dismissal, the whole thing had me perplexed.
“It’s not [fun for me anymore],” Hester told reporters. “I’ve got my workers’ comp papers in my pocket. We’ll see how I feel. I’m going to go home and talk to my wife and talk to my family and see where we go from there. I got two beautiful kids, man, two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately.”
Did Hester not realize that, if anything, Lovie Smith continually hurt him as a player by not only moving him to, but keeping him at, wide receiver? Lovie shoved that “Hester Package” stuff down not only our throats, but Hester’s too.
Later, though, Hester would take to his twitter account to refute the idea that his comments regarding retirement had anything to do with Lovie Smith saying, “Let me make myself clear: the reason why I feel like retiring has nothing to do with Lovie Smith getting fired. It’s hard to play this game when you’re not happy or having fun at what you love to do in life.”
So why now does he feel he needs a change of scenery? I would have thought, given that explanation, that he would be happy to return with a new coaching staff in place.
Hester told the Chicago Tribune’s Vaughn McClure on Saturday, “I’m going to try to get two or three more years in. I think I have that much left in me. At the same time, I think I do need a fresh start.”
I suppose just what Hester means by “a fresh start” is open to debate, but the NFL semantic would suggest that it means an opportunity with a different team. But that’s what strikes me as odd; the 2013 Chicago Bears are a different team.
Former Bears’ special teams coordinator Dave Toub told “The Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000, “You have to give it some time … he’ll change that attitude. He’s still got a lot more to give and he just needs to have fun back on the field again. When Devin is having fun, that’s when he’s dangerous.”
With all due respect, Devin, the coaches and management who ruined your fun are gone.
And current head coach Marc Trestman has no reason to continue to keep Devin Hester at wide receiver. He has nothing invested in that failed project. While the Bears could use a speed threat to put pressure on opposing defenses over the top, nothing in Hester’s resume should suggest to Trestman that he should be that player.
The wide receiver position aside, the Bears need a return specialist. Hester may have struggled last season, but I think there’s every reason now to believe it was more mental than physical. If Hester can get right mentally elsewhere, why not right here?
Hester’s under contract for another season at a reasonable price of $1.857 million, so the Bears don’t have to let him loose. And trading him when they don’t necessarily have someone to replace him with may not be the best move either.
One could certainly make the argument that trading him now would at least bring some value back to the team given the fact that he could walk on his own in 2014 (meaning no compensation), but I’m not sure that keeping him in Chicago doesn’t equate to even more value than what the Bears would project to get on a trade after a terribly down season.
Former Bears’ wide receivers coach Daryl Drake also spoke to “The Waddle & Silvy Show” following his own dismissal saying, “I've heard we’re going to have the ‘Devin Hester Package’ for I don’t know how many years. And I’m part of it, but I haven’t seen it come into fruition on Sundays, but I think a guy with his ability, the more you get it to him, the more you see, the better he is. When you don’t get it to him, then frustration sets in, and you’ll see it.”
Simple logic, and knowing what we know about Hester’s player-personality, would suggest that a return to returning could do him a lot of good. Playing the receiver position in and of itself puts a lot of pressure on a player to know and understand the offense.
Now, with yet another new offense coming to town, both the Bears and Hetser might stand to benefit the most by having the best returner in the history of the game stay right where he is and offer him a vastly decreased workload.
All, of course, is assuming Marc Trestman and the Chicago Bears are on that same page.