Let Hester Return Kickoffs

With Danieal Manning coming back from a hamstring injury and Garrett Wolfe currently listed as the starting kick returner, it's time for the Chicago Bears to pull their heads out of their asses.  Devin Hester should return kickoffs Sunday night in Green Bay.

I'm not arguing that Hester should do it for the entire season, especially if Danieal Manning shows the burst and breakaway quickness he showed down the stretch in 2008.  But until that point, Manning's success in the defensive backfield is actually more imperative than Hester's contributions in the passing game.  I know that sounds insane but it's not.  Manning will be responsible - with a couple other fellas - for stopping one of the game's elite passing attacks.  In the home of our longest rival.  In primetime.  If Devin Hester's offensive production is the key to the Bears winning Sunday night...I'll see you Monday.

Put Hester back there and take a chance with one of the most exciting weapons in the history of the sport.  If you're as happy with the wide receiving corps as you claim to be, it won't be a big deal to line up a few times with DA or Hands out wide.  If not, I still don't care.  Sunday night has the makings of an old-fashioned shootout and I'd hate to lose a gunfight because I forgot my best gun.


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  • I've been saying this forever. He's not as spectacular as you need to be if you're a mini-me receiver. He should be returning all punts and kickoffs, with receiving duties reduced. He should be doing what he's best at, not trying to be average at WR to the detriment of the return game. When he was a a full time return man we got killer field position every game, but they won't turn back the clock because they don't want to admit they were wrong. Bennett, Rideau and D.A would have been a great trio, but poor old Rideau lost out to 34 defensive backs and 27 D-lineman in the cuts. Beatch.

  • Gee, I was kinda impressed with Jackass's performance doing kickoff returns as well. So that's another possibility. It almost seems that Hester has lost a little of that "killer instinct" when it comes to doing returns.

  • I agree with the assessment of Tillman. Better to go with a trio of Bowman, Vash and Graham for a week or two and get Peanut back at full strength and confidence than risk losing him for all of 09 bringing him back too early. Lovie's always been to cautious for me, so hopefully that finally pays off here. As for Hester, I'd rather see us put Knox back there against the Pack. It's game 1, everybody is on fresh legs, and I want Hester concentrating on catching the deep ball. Knox is eager and anxious to prove his worth, and he's already shown he can eat up yards. Devin's still returning punts, and once he takes one of those to the house his confidence will explode. My motto this season is "21". If our D can hold to 21 or less, I think we've got a 12 win club.

  • knox should your right Matty

  • I can't really think of a reason not to have Hester back returning kickoffs other than opposing teams might just squibb or pooch the ball instead of kicking it deep to Devin. The strategy works for punts better than it does for kickoffs. Maybe the staff thinks we're better off letting on of our guys like Manning, Wolfe or Knox return regular kickoffs. I have to say, I was a bit underwhelmed watching Wolfe return kickoffs in the preseason. He had issues fielding the ball and didn't seem to be able to avoid the 1st wave of tacklers like our other returners have. I think Knox might have more potential at the position, but maybe the straff feels more comfortable in Wolfe's little hands.

    I also think 2009 is the make or break year for Wolfe, especially now that KJ is gone for the year and Wolfe is going to have to help pick up the slack. Wolfe along with AP should see more opportunities this year and it's time for Wolfe to prove he's worth a 3rd round pick either through his contributions at RB, on special teams, or both. To me, Adrian Peterson and Dominick Rhodes are esentially the same back. They're both 30 and have about the same career averages although Rhodes has more wear and tear as well as a history of injury problems. Picking up Rhodes isn't going to solve the backup RB position, the Bears need Wolfe to come through and provide the kind of production that was expected of him when he was drafted in 2006.

  • In reply to Shady:

    Cogent and concise assessment of AP/Wolfe situation. Excellent post.

  • Best scenario: The Packers only have to kick-off 1 to 3 times Sunday night in which case, it won't matter who returns them for us.

    Worst weekend for an NFL player: Richard Seymour. Can you say "From the penthouse to the outhouse"?

    Raider Head Coach, Tom Cable on Seymour: "He wants to be here. I've talked to him". Right, Tom, He's DYING go 5-11.And you didn't bust your assistant coach's jaw, didyou?

  • i have my own opinions on why Hester is not returning kicks against Green Bay but i will keep them to myself as they are pretty controversial.

    Manning should not be returning kicks until it is proven that his hammy is healed. Hester should be the one returning the kicks. Garret Wolfe is not a kick returner. The Bears should give a shot to the rookie Knox. He is electric and runs with passion like Manning.

  • i agree with knox but can't imagine a scenario where jackass is active this week.

  • He won't be back this week, no worries. 50/50 chance = no chance.

  • Hester is the #1 WR, he can't be a KR and PR and #1 WR, his legs would be done by the end of the game. At least on PR's he can call a fair catch here and there and not run. With the new 2-man wedge rule they're probably scared Hester will get his bell rung and there goes the #1 WR.

    Separate note - I don't like the nicknames for players, it gets confusing for people that check multiple sites. Who's Hands? Jackass I get, but still don't like it. I know it's your site, just giving my opinion.

  • I agree with you, Hester should be returning kicks, but I do see Knox filling in that role at somepoint...

    Wolfe is simply too small...he's gonna get CRUSHED if he is in fact back there this weekend.

  • In reply to Dmband:

    it's not that he is small, it's that he can't make that first wave miss, and that is why he gets crushed. Knox and Hester are small too but the are really hard to crush because you will just miss them. they have to be tackled, Wolfe can't elude them and that's why he gets crushed.

  • I would have difficutly disputing any of these points. Hester should be able to be a full time kick/punt returner and Wide Reciever. I think we have a little bit of depth split out wide, so we can afford to give Devin a series of rest if he needs it. I don't mean to impune Hester's athletic ability (in fact, he is an amazing athelete) but I think he is a little bit of a pussy if he can't hack being a reciever and returner. When I was growing up, most players played offense, defense, AND special teams. So get over it and run some balls back for touchdowns like we all know you can do.

    In other news, Eric Mangini has to be the worst coach in NFL history. Worse than John McKay, Dave Wannstedt, and Bobby Petrino combined. Apparently he has decided who the starting QB will be, but won't reveal it until kickoff on Sunday. What a neat guy.

    Also, the Lions named Stafford as their starting QB and the lockeroom is in a "sullen" mood according to pro football talk. Maybe they are sullen because Culpeper gave them a chance of having a "fluke" victory this season and now they are on a course to go 0-32. Keep it coming Mr. Ford!

  • Hands = Rash Davis. It's sarcastic.

    My feeling on kick returners is you either want someone back there to generate excitement or somebody who catches and runs forward until he falls. Brian Mitchell was amazing at that and he scored so much because of it.

  • In reply to JeffHughes:

    Got it. Still think the Bears can't afford to rest Hester on any offensive play since he's their primary deep threat, until Knox gets more involved later in the year. By that time Manning will be back in form (hopefully) and this will be a non-issue.

  • Jeff, I agree hester should be returning kick-offs in GB, regardless of whatever they want to do with him in the future.

    This topic got me thinking though. Hester is currently our #1 WR (or whatever). Personally I think Bennett has more potential, and will develop into Cutlers #2 target (with Olsen being the #1). Now in the future (1-3 yrs), when we finally do attract pro-bowl level WR talent via free agency (thanks to jay cutler) what happens to Hester? We run alot of 2 TE formations, so if we bring in a legit #1 there won't be a lot of playing time for hester AND bennett.

    I wonder, in the long run, if Hester doesn't become more of a kick returner and less of a WR. Barring a real break out performance, which is totally possible.... but i don't get the feeling Hester will become a Steve Smith-like WR.

  • In reply to JimmyNewport:

    which is ironic because if he moves back to full time KR and PR becuase we all know he will still justify that uge contract if he changes games like he does. It is not crazy to give a guy that kind of money if he can do what no one else in the league or in the history of the game can do.

    Great post Jimmy!

  • In reply to hollywood1:

    can i get some spellcheck on this blog site?

  • In reply to hollywood1:

    I guess there are numerous receiving based incentives in Hester's contract, but I agree with you 100% if he is the kick returner that he was, he would justify that deal in a second. I know other posters have mentioned it, but can you imagine Cutler with a short field? I hate to bring up a terrible team, but this feels like a Soriano leading off arguement. The fans all know its stupid, but the coach and team stick with it..I think Devin as a situational reciever is the way to go...

    And yes, that has to be the funniest/dumbest move ever in Cleveland. Its one thing not to tell the press, but to not even tell the QB's...thats just classic.

  • In reply to hollywood1:

    What is everyone's thoughts on Rhodes as a backup RB...do you think the Bears will consider it?

  • In reply to hollywood1:

    When a return man, Hester literally changed the way football was played against the Bears. His presence gave them a huge advantage in terms of big returns or intentional out of bounds kicks and great starting positions on drives. There was a palatable, electric energy buzzing from the return teams - anything could happen on any kick he was allowed to return. And the team had a true sense of pride and a swagger in having this unprecedented weapon. It was very enjoyable for everyone -- players, coaches, other teams, media -- as we all watched what we knew was the beginning of a record-shattering career.

    To change his role on the team was the biggest strategic coaching mistake I have ever witnessed, from the perspective of a fan of the game. The proof is in the results -- IT DID NOT WORK. We lost the weapon in the return game, and we are still hoping Hester can be an effective receiver.

  • In reply to MontanaMike:

    Here's the crux (and Perno - no one suggested making Hester be a fulltime WR and KR and PR). If we let Devin do what he does better than anyone else - ever - as well as being a situational receiver, then two things happen. Firstly, teams change the way they approach kicking/punting and whether or not he touches the ball he becomes effective and deeply influential. If they kick it out of bounds, sweet. Kick it to him, sweet. Either way it's good field position and he helps the team greatly. Secondly, if we just use Hester sparingly (8 snaps a game?) as a wide receiver, he becomes a double threat in the receiving game. We send him long every single time he's on the field - no curls, no hooks, no tricks. Go long son. By doing this, we *teach* opposing teams that whenever Devin Hester is on as a WR, he's going route one. The boy is going long, capiche ? Doing this without fail, teams KNOW he's going long. Whether or not the ball is thrown to him is irrelevant. He becomes a *decoy*. A safety HAS TO come over and help the corner, they have no choice unless their name is Nnamdi Asomugha. Throw a couple to Devin, throw a couple to Bennett/Olsen - somebody has to be seriously open. Draw play for 20+ yds ! If Devin gets separation it's a TD. The upshot of all of this Returning/Situational receiver duality is this - HE BECOMES USEFUL EVERY TIME HE IS ON THE FIELD. Correct usage of a rare talent, instead of what he is now. A small man with plaits.

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