Hester Off Returns?

Finally!  A topic!

Vaughn McClure writes in today's Trib that Devin Hester has expressed a willingness to abandon the punt return game.  Or as Hester puts it:

``I think a return man simply has to be a return man,''
Hester said. ``There's really no other position he should go out and
play. A return man is a totally different ball game from trying to be a
return man and starting receiver, or the starting cornerback, or a
starting safety. I don't think it's going to work. That's why you never
really see it last that long in the NFL. You can't do it.
"

Hester goes on to say that he'd still like to achieve the all-time return record but his point above is better-taken.  Devin Hester is now expected to be the number one receiver for the Chicago Bears.  That was never asked of Dante Hall, the last player to showcase the kind of electricity Hester displays.  It was never asked of Desmond Howard, White Shoes or Mel Gray either.  Number one receiver means approaching 100 catches.  It means double-digit touchdowns.  It means never leaving the field.

I was opposed to moving Devin Hester to wide receiver because I don't believe in tampering with greatness.  Hester's impact on individual games had become incalculable.  When the defense got a stop on third down, the stadium rose to its feet and applauded.  Not the stop.  The anticipation.  Still, Hester has been moved and has surprised me with his capacity to be a dominant force at the position.  Be honest, does he ever look like he's covered?  If this development continues, the return game must be sacrificed.

And with Danieal Manning's athletic ability on this roster, how much will he be missed?

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  • I like that Devin's thinking ahead and focused on being a great receiver. I was also against moving him to receiver - I actually would have moved him to defense, where he originally played and where his mentor Deion Sanders had coached him. As a defensive back (where we really could use him) he could have utilized his god-given instincts and speed to get to the ball and make plays, but now that he's made strides on offense, I'm anxious to see what happens. Being the No. 1 receiver requires a lot of technical skill and a vast knowledge of every play before instinct can takeover. I'm hoping we see all that gel this season.

    Go Devin!

  • After two seasons of being a return man, is there much doubt that he was most likely a shoe-in to be the absolute #1 greatest return man in the history of the NFL? I really don't think that is a stretch... albeit he would need a couple more seasons similar to 2006 and 2007.

    He changed ever single game, and even won a few on his own (Broncos game in 2007 comes to mind). That type of talent comes along once in a generation. The desire to move him to WR is understandable. You don't pay return men $10 M a year. Plus, our beloved bears had no ligit talent at WR after Berrian left (and until recently no QB either). So i get why he was introduced to the offense.

    That being said... I think his primary role on this team should have always been as a return man. Sure, you want to give touches to your best players... and he is a gifted athlete, but to take a hall-of-fame level return man and try to fit him into a full-time WR role is madness. Save the steve smith comparisons...

    Hester is one of a kind, and we are mis-using his ability at WR. If cutler and him become a great pairing along the lines of peyton manning and reggie wayne, then I will eat my words... but I just don't Hester as much more than a Berrian-like deep threat to stretch the field. Sure that type of player is valuable, but not NEARLY has valuable as Hester is as a return man.

    My personal nightmare is #23 fading into irrelevant as a WR and having to realize 2 or 3 years from now that we wasted a truly great talent on special teams to develop a deep threat #2 or 3 type guy.

    I am against Hester being a full-time offensive player. I am completely against him being moved off the punt return unit. It's a crazy as moving Urlacher to SS or Lance Briggs to FB.

    On a more positive note... I am so excited for this season! We have a tremendously talented roster, and easy sched, and every hope in the world of winning the NFC. Bear Down.

  • I can't for the life of me understand why you can't be a wide reciever AND a kick returner. It's your full-time job. You're touching the ball maybe ten times a week. They pay you millions of dollars. You play somewhere between 16 and 19 games in a year. ... I want it all. I want to be so excited about punt and kickoff returns that I'm shouthing through the house "It's Devin Hester time!" and my house full of casual and non football fans drops everything they're doing in anticipation. AND I want 10 times a year to see Hester streak uncoverable down the sidelines, catching a perfectly placed cannon ball from #6. I want teams to fear fourth down because it means giving the ball back to #23 ... first via the punt, and -- IF they can somehow keep him out of the endzone on special team -- second on offense, where all world speed + an all-pro deep ball = cornerbacks that wet the bed on Saturday night. This is too much to ask?

  • Yes. This is what I was afraid of. Hester might one day be a good reciever. He might one day be a really good reciever. But I ask you, how many times has the WR Hester made a game-changing play?

    Never.

    How many times has the PR/KR Hester made a game-changing play?

    @Arizona, 06
    @New York, 06
    x2 @St. Louis, 06
    Minnesota, 06
    Kansas City, 07
    x2 Denver, 07
    New Orleans, 07

    That is 9 game-changing returns which I can remember, plus a pretty God damn cool opening kickoff return in Super Bowl XLI, if anyone remembers. I'm apprehensive about this, if it really does come to fruition.

  • You guys are making all the arguments I made last off-season. It was frustrating as hell. But that decision has been made now. We sorta have to move on.

  • Why can't he do both, they have other receivers that can take a couple snaps until he is rested from the return. If he gets a touchdown he doesn't need the rest for offense right? I think he can do both. Anybody remember Bernard Berrian burning us last year in Minny. that sucked and I didnt even know he did much returning.

    I don't care what anybody says, I think he can do both, maybe not full time, but on and off througout a game still forces the opposing punt or kick team to make adjustments and try to kick away from him.

    I'm sorry, but it didnt ring cool with me that he is only concerned about breaking a record. His ass needs to be thinking what's best for the team and what will win the game. He needs to get out of his head and just go out there and make shit happen, stop worrying about money and records, have fun, that's why he seemed to do it in the beginning, ever since the hold out things have changed. I hope he straightens it out come the season.

    My hopes will be high, all I want to see is wins, whether it's because of his recieving or runbacks but that anticipation of knowing it is always a strong possibility for a runback or even a close call runback can never be replaced.

    He is awesome.

    Go Bears

    T-16 P-31

  • Completely off subject but worth announcing anyway. Just got my Bears/Niners tickets in the mail for the big Thursday nighter in November. Soooo stoked. Hopefully we'll come out in out road navy's and kick the shit out of those assholes like we should have done in '84 and '88! Can you imagine? Those were 2 tough losses to SF in the NFC title game. Walter could have had a couple more rings!!!! Our boys will do us proud out here in my home state! Bear Down bitches!

  • The year we drafted Devin we did so because we missed out on Antwaan Randle-El who was presumably slated to be a WR and returner. Devin can and should do both. Others have and have excelled.

  • This is a decision that could really come back to haunt ownership if things don't work out. But the fact remains, when Devin is holding the ball he has the ability to score. We'll find out this season if he can transfer some of those skills to a Ron Turner led offense and pick up what it means to be a WR in the NFL.

    By the way, who is going to mentor him? Rashied is the vet on the WR corps. Yes. Rashied Davis. The most experienced WR on the Chicago Bears is a former arena leaguer who has (so far) managed to turn into nothing but a drops machine. The Bears NEED to add a veteran WR sooner than later for more than a few reasons. At the moment, I wouldn't want an overpriced diva WR who wouldn't be a good fit. If the Bears can pick up a solid veteran with the right attitude at the right price, I say go for it.

    Anyway, getting past some of the negativity regarding Devin Hester moving to WR. I've been quoted as saying I believe Devin Hester will be the most improved Chicago Bear this year. The acquisition of Cutler is going to do wonders for the guy. Getting him more of an opportunity to capitalize on chances short, medium and in particuar deep. Too many times last year I witnessed the most electrifying player on offense (wait, is he? That just feels great to think about) finding a way to get open, only to have a ball over/under thrown or the play break down because of a hurry or sack on Kyle. If Devin can continue to read defenses on the run, and find ways to get open in space, Jay Cutler is the type of QB who will find you and get you the ball in a hurry. I have to say, I'm pretty damn excited to see what Hester can accomplish this year on offense with Jay. Who knows maybe "Sprinkles" and/or "Jackass" will be able to do some things for us this year too.

    As far as those statistics go from the last post, I think you should include 1st downs, 3rd down conversions and passing plays over 30 yds. Go Bears.

  • Gale Sayers?

    Hello?

    Jeesh.

  • Beardown11,

    In the 84 NFC title game, I have one thing to say. Steve Fuller. The other one was just a Joe Montana/Jerry Rice show for the 88 title game. Basically, it seems the fog left Soldier field from the week prior, but it then entered their heads for a critical game against a great 49r's team. Still we were in the mix on a regular basis in those days, like to see that some more with a better ending.

    Go Bears.

  • Gale says Devin just tries to be too cute with his returns sometimes rather than just getting it and going. That was the problem last year. He was thinking too much. If he really understands the offense better now and playing receiver is more instinctive to him, then he won't be stressed with too much on his mind.

    The problem comes when he starts worrying about getting hurt during returns, he may not take the same risks that enabled him to be so successful.

    At this point he just needs to break out one in the first two games of the season (one in GB because we hate them and the other at home for the fans enjoyment of win #2) so he can remember how excited his team and the fans are when it happens. Maybe he's lost that loving feelin.

  • Agreed - Devin just needs to bust one long return early and the rest will be, as they say, history. If not, D Manning is a totally different return-man in style, but does just fine running people over.

    The Gale Sayers comment was for everyone freaking about whether a great kick returner can play offense full-time and still get it done. I think Mr. Sayers' career says "YES" emphatically.

  • Gale Sayers is the perfect example.

    Also how about Bernard Berrian's ass on our very own team just last year, ok, he wasnt full time runback guy, but Devin I think is better than him in every way, or at least I am convinced he will show that he is this year.

    I hope BB is pissed at himself for not being here to make receptions from a guy like JC and same goes for MM too, son of a beyatch with his lame, but true comments (at least at the time).

  • For more of a time killer till training camp I briefly looked over the Bernard Berrian, Moose and Hester stats.

    First of all, how the heck did Moose get 16 TD's around the year 2000, not normal at all, that's approaching half of his career total.

    Anyways, I digress, so BB gets this huge contract to go to Minny and he only catches 48 passes for 964 yds and 7 TD's. 7 is more than he ever got with the Bears, but we also didn't have that particular AP in the back field either.

    You could take the one off, pluss 99 yds that he got on us, because come on, it was just the worst blown coverage ever.

    47-865 and 6 TD's - I don't think he earned his check, the most positive thing he did was almost double his YAC from 3. something to 6.8, why? AP maybe.

    Moose:

    65-923 and 5 TD's, not terrible, better than his last season as a Bear though, but it's not like he was suddenly "revived".

    Devin:

    51-665 and 3 TD's, I think it's not bad considering that he seemed to improve in the second half, as all have reported, especially on the official site. The other thing that has been reported by the Bears mouth piece is that approximately a dozen times DH was underthrown or overthrown on sure TD's, even if he is half right, that would still make for 9 TD's and maybe another 150 yds on the season as a semi-rookie receiver.

    Now with the accuracy of the Cut, the sky is the limit for the DH.

    I really think this stuff is possible and I am not liveing a pie in the sky dream here. It makes the anticipation of seeing these games all the worse.

    There, now after reading this blah blah blah you are five minutes closer to the season, you are welcome Bear fans around the world.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    Hard to figure Muhsin Muhammed.My first thought was "Well, he had Steve Smith on the other side" but, when he had that 16TD career year in 2004, Smith went down for the season after 1 game. Moose didn't have 16 TDs in the previous 4 seasons, combined, but he DID have 102 catches in 2000, a season BEFORE Syeve Smith arrived in Carolina. He also had a nice 1999 too, with 96 catches and 8 TDs. That would also be san Steve Smith.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    I feel like we're missing out on watching the greatest PR/KR ever in the NFL and trading him for a good receiver. I know the Bears need a good WR but it still feels like I'm getting gypped as a fan.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    Greetings,

    What a treat to discuss Bears Football!

    Hester is a great athlete. But Gale Sayers will always be the best Bear. He accomplished more in the time he had than anyone else. I believe that he would beat both Hester and Sanders in a race. I do not remember Gale Sayers ever getting caught from behind in the open.

    I just want the Bears to win a Super Bowl - so if Hester has to be a #1 receiver to accomplish that, so be it. The goal is to win the Super Bowl, not set records. If you keep your sight on the goal, the records come with it!

  • In reply to shonbear:

    Aren't some of us putting the "cart before the horse" ?

    The headline says: "Bears' Hester willing to give up punt returns, just NOT IMMEDIATELY".

    Also, while Gale Sayers was a great return man, it wasn't like he was returning all punts and kick-offs. I believe some posters are under the impression that he was.

    Just to clarify, in 1965 he had 16 punt returns. Other Bears returned 13 punts. He also retrned 21 kick-offs while other Bears returned 24. In '66 he took back only 6 punt returns and 23 of 48 kick-off returns. In '67 it was only 3 punts and 16 of 47 kick-offs. Note: Of those 19 returns in 1967, FOUR were for TOUCHDOWNS!

  • In reply to shonbear:

    So many things wrong with this story I don't know where to start:

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/1668946,CST-NWS-briggs16.article

  • In reply to Shady:

    Lance, Lance, LANCE! 3 kids by 3 women in 14 months?!?!? I realize those numbers are small potatoes by Shawn Kemp or Travis Henry standards but, that is absolutely moronic!
    Use a condom or get a vasectomy already!

    What part of "Women are just DYING to have a child by you so they can attach your wages." don't Pro Atheletes understand?

    Here's a related list athletes who fail to grasp the concept of "Birth Control":

    http://www.myfamilylaw.com/celebrityblog/2008/06/06/paternity-suits-pro-athletes/

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Funny thing about sports, they can tell you a whole heck of a lot about society.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Shady,

    That is a genius statement that people often forget when they get on their high horse, not saying anybody did that here. We can pick and choose the heinousness of the supposed immoratlity based upon your own set of standards, but truly, they are just a microcosm of all of us. That brought to mind the whole McNair thing.

    Thought out.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Maybe I am oversimplifying things.. but don't you just need a redzone receiver package to fix all of this? ie.. Rideau is in at #1 receiver in the red zone. If Hester has to run a lot during the punt return, he should either score or put us in the red zone, and he would come off the field for a blow for either the defense or Rideaux.
    All he really brings to the table at wideout is stretching the field and you don't need that anymore on a short field. And if his return sucks... well he didn't run very far and it shouldn't be much different that catching a 7 yard pass, so get up and go in at #1 WR. Maybe I am missing something.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    It didn't seem like Hester was into the returns thing last year as in the previous seasons. It seems to me that his focus is more on the WR position,and he dosn't put the intensity into the returns which could lessen the chance of getting injured. Just an observation.
    I haven't heard anyone mention trying out Knox or Iglesias doing punt/kick off returns. Both have done it college and both seem pretty agile, and have the speed to do it.
    Being a high paid Sports figure seems to make the women and the drugs come easy. And the really sad thing in all of this is that some of the kids will be the one's who will pay the price for it, sadly.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Thank you, Donald Driver...

    http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/huddleup/2009/07/packers-wr-says-bears-dont-have-the-receiver-group.html

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Whatever. Lots of people are saying it's just Driver being honest. Honest is when you say something like "this receiver group is unproven, so we'll see how they look during the season". Making a so called "statement of fact" when the facts haven't even been laid out for review during actual football games yet is absolutely ludicrous.

    We have all expressed the same concern about getting another proven number one, but we are also mostly reserved to the possibility that it ain't gonna happen, so we lay out the hope that between the Cut and the receivers hard work that they will step up to the plate and play like the pros they are paid to be.

    The threat of the run and an accurate passer will likely open things up, regardless of which receivers we have on the field. Just the fact that the whole training camp will be dedicated to a number one signal caller and not two guys spending 3/4ths of training camp splitting reps and preaseason game quarters or halves in a falsified competition makes us better all by itself and more importantly the receivers only have to adjust to one style of throwing and leadership. That situation alone adds to my excitement for training camp, preaseason and September 13th, more than I think I can ever remember, just short of waiting for the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl when our team is plaing in it.

    It's catchup man its catchup

    A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N - - - - - - - - ARGH!!!

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    um catsup, um ketchup um ? yea, that sucked

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    I dry gagged three times reading this crap:

    http://www.chicagobears.com/news/NewsStory.asp?story_id=5931

    ....same cookie-cutter, garbage answers....

    he works hard....
    he knows where he's supposed to be....
    he's a good athlete...
    blah, blah, fucking blah!!!!

    "he" fucking better be all those things!!! he's in the goddamn NFL!!!!

    the smoke and mirrors mentality with the brass and PR people associated with this team make me want to fucking scream! camp needs to start. now.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    I dont like Larry Mayer

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    It's like that all the time with every team, Duff. The website is just propaganda. It's fun to go to and watch videos or something, but when it comes to news stories I come to Da good ol' Bears Blog.

    Comparing Gale Sayers to Hester is indeed a cogent point. Until Hester arrived on the scene in 06, Sayers was the best return man in Bears history as well as one of (if not the) best ever in football. Learning a new position from scratch, especially in the NFL, is difficult (and lets be honest, Hester isn't the brightest bulb in the scoreboard) but it is something that Devin should definately be able to adjust to and pick up over time. For the next few years his ass had better be back to catch punts. He can still be the most electrifying player in the National Football League.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Urlacher's illigetimate child is a bastard and should be exiled from this site for using "worst returner" and Hester in the same sentence. To quote Billy Crystal's old hag of a wife in Princess Bride, "Boooo!" to you sir. Imagine Walter Payton having a few pedestrian games and fans labeling him "worst ever." Or maybe a baseball analogy is better because returning kicks involves a little more luck, like hitting home runs. Hester SLUMPED last year: even the great ones slump but they always break out again. May you rue the day you called him "worst" when he returns a game-winner in the Superbowl. May your comments haunt you for a sports fan's lifetime when you have to watch highlight after highlight of Hester doing what no return man has ever done before or since. bastard.

  • In reply to Shady:

    I think i need to change my post name....

  • In reply to MASOCHR:

    Maybe so, Uic, that list I posted only has Urhlacher down for 1 illegitimate child.

  • We need to remember just how bad Hester was on punt returns last year. He went from the best returner i've ever seen to the worst. How many times did we watch him field a punt and immediately sprint backwards and then fall down? We have guys on the roster that have been succesful at returning punts in the past. Let them (Iglesias, DJ Moore, Johnny Knox, Daniel Manning) earn a paycheck and let Hester worry about catching the ball. We all know Hester has the IQ of a poop tossing monkey, and it was apparent last year that he can only do one thing at a time. We should only put him back there for a return when we really need a big one, not unlike the Panther does with Steve Smith. Hester's the best receiver that we have, and we need to put him in the best position to succeed at receiver.

  • Wow, seems like everybody has a strong opinion on this one. I need to throw my hat in the ring as well, then.

    #23 is the most electrifying Chicago Bear of my generation. Walter's excellence was and still is the standard, and the Ghost was amazing in his short hall of fame career. What makes Devin so special, as someone pointed out earlier, is the anticipation you feel when he's about to get the ball. It's the same feeling we used to get when another #23 would take over a game late in the 4th quarter at Chicago Stadium and the UC. He's that damn good at what he does. Now what makes him that good?

    It's a few things that he possesses that other return men don't.
    1. SPEED-I don't know what his 40 time is, and I don't care. His combination of quickness, agility as well as top end speed makes him impossible to catch. I don't know who wins in a race between #23 and Prime Time in his prime.

    2. VISION-He sees the hole and he is gone. One move, one cut and it's all over. When moving and under control of his body with the ball in hand, there isn't a more devestating force in football today. He's better than Reggie Bush was when he was at USC.

    3. ATHLETIC ABILITY-He's a freak for a few reasons. He's not a huge guy, but he does have some size to go with that speed. He's built stockier than you'd think, which allows him to take some punishment and get the job done. He's got stronger than average hands and great leaping ability as well.

    4. MENTAL MAKE-UP-Remember, he's always been a defensive-minded player. He was a cornerback, so he's more team-conscious than your average pass catcher because he hasn't grown up with the world telling him he'll be a #1 WR.(like the T.O.'s of the world) He's coachable, and working hard to get better on a daily basis.

    These 4 attributes, along with the addition of #6, will make Devin Hester's 2009 season a break-through performance as a #1 receiver. It's what made him so special as a return man that will make him so potent now that Cutler is delivering the ball. The problem with last year was that Orton(no disrespect meant, he's a warrior) couldn't get Hester the ball IN STRIDE CONSISTENTLY! That's the whole deal. I saw Hester catch the ball over the middle in stride last year ONCE.....and he turned it into a 64 yard touchdown. Cutler can do that almost EVERY DAMN TIME, and Hester can't outrun his arm. To all of you that think he should do both, I agree that he COULD do both, just not at the level we need him to do ONE OR THE OTHER. I want him concentrating on being a pass catcher, and working every day to improve that part of his game. The less distractions(worried about taking it to the house, getting hurt, etc.) the better.

    As for the future of his return game, I picture it like having the greatest pinch-hitter of all-time. Manning is great, and he'll do great things for us. If we're up against the wall though, down 3 or 4 late in a game that we have to win and a crowd that is flat and losing hope, there's nothing cooler than the roar from Soldier Field as they see #23 line up deep for one more race to the endzone.

    Thanks for letting me ramble........BEAR DOWN.

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