Bears fans are done with Devin Hester

Departing Wide Receivers coach Daryl Drake, on his way out stated that "Devin just needs to be involved," referring to Devin Hester.  Bears fans responded:

Donald C Rudow · Follow
Hester is not a receiver. This is one of Lovie's major personnel blunders.

Update: Hester has said publicly that "I do need a fresh start," indicating he might be seeking a move to a new team.  Fans responded, none too kindly.  Out of 49 responses, about 29% expressed some sort of sympathy -- either some version of "keep him" or "It's Lovie's fault for ruining him" and 1 Tony Lyon responded by lambasting commenters for thinking they know anything about the game.  The other 71% of commenters said some version of "Adios," or "He stinks" or "He's delusional if he thinks he's good."  The numbers were similar among those who clearly stated whether they wanted him to stay or go, with 38% saying "keep him" but 62% saying the Bears should let him go or trade him.  Bears fans pretty well agree that if Hester is to stay he needs to prove something as a WR or shut up and play kick returner:
John Padgen · Riverside Brookfield Township HS

Once upon a time we all were great at something. Devin your talent was running with the kick-off / punt. The NFL rules committee decided to change things(for the safety of the players) and it changed everything. Lovie didn't help you by putting you in a position to fail. In the NFL true talent is drafted at the position. Either put up or shut up time is here. Thanks for the memories....
I picked Donald's quote because it best reflects my own thinking, and John's because I think it captures both sides of the argument well.    Most Bears fans, myself included, couldn't get enough of the guy just a few years ago.  I do think trying Hester in the offense was a good idea, but the way the Bears went about it was all wrong.  Mike Martz knew what to do.  I was listening to The Score shortly after his hire and remember Martz saying it very clearly, "We're going use him like Az Hakim," said Martz,  referring to former Rams standout Az-Ahir Hakim, who was a dangerous return man and wide receiver.  Martz elaborated upon his plan to use Hester in the slot and get him matched up against linebackers and safeties where Hester had the advantage.  And though he didn't explicitly express it, Martz's plan would have kept Hester off the field on some downs, meaning they wouldn't be asking him to run block, and instead focus him on catching the ball on making plays in the open field.  In other words, Martz was going to emphasize Hester's strengths while downplaying his weaknesses.

The next day, Lovie Smith publicly overruled Martz, stated that Hester was "more" than that.  I actually think Lovie was a pretty good coach for the Bears but that was as bad a move as I've seen a coach make.  Why would a defensive coach overrule his hand-picked offensive coordinator, a guy who was one of the  game's premier offensive minds, and a guy who had success with a Hester-like player in Hakim?

Part of the problem was Hester's creation:  Following the 2006 Superbowl season, Hester wanted a new contract.  The Bears weren't sure how much they could pay a returner, even if he was the greatest returner in history, so they structured his contract around becoming a wide receiver.  My guess is that in his effort to be a player's coach, Lovie stood by Hester as a of receiver, since that's how Hester was going to get paid what he wanted to get paid.

The rest is history.  Hester has been inconsistent at best at wide receiver and now even his return game has gone down the tubes.  It might have worked out a little differently with another quarterback, but Jay Cutler had no use for a small guy who struggled to run routes and catch the ball.  But even with Peyton Manning at QB, I think any Bears fan could plainly see that Hester would never be a great receiver.  Now they want him gone.  I personally would keep him around as a returner, but move him to the slot -- better late than never.  My hope is that Marc Trestman will figure out how to get the most out of him as an offensive player and as a returner.  But if I had to choose between getting Hester more "involved" as a receiver and parting ways with him altogether, I'd let another team deal with that problem.

It's hard to say if Hester would have scored more return touchdowns had he never been billed as  "#1 wide receiver".  Guess we'll never know, and now his run as a Chicago Bear may very well have come to its end.

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