Chicago Bears offensive coordinator, Mike Tice, has announced that the Bears will employ a series of plays referred to as the "Devin Package" in 2012. Seemingly, the presence of these plays indicates that Devin Hester will no longer be an every-down receiver. It's about time.
With the addition of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, Hester looked be falling faster on the depth chart than the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North standings. Arguably, this is where Devin Hester belongs. With his explosion onto the scene with his electric return game, the Bears got a little too excited-- justified I suppose. They thought they had one of the most explosive players to ever play the game and one who could routinely change the game on a play-by-play basis. They seemed to miss the idea that playing offense and returning kicks are two very different professions.
Hester has never been more than a very average receiver. He's a legendary kick/punt returner. While I agree with the idea of the "Devin Package," I don't agree because I think he's going to change the game every time he touches the ball; I agree with it because it puts him in his correct role. The man should be returning kicks --until someone figures out how to consistently stop him. Since he's come on the scene, he has 17 return touchdowns, one field goal return, plus his kick return in the Super Bowl. Over his time as receiver, he has a total of 13 touchdowns. He even has more kick return yards (3,447) and punt return yards (2,654) than receiving yards (2,565). While the whole story isn't told by the above numbers, it becomes easily apparent how much more effective Hester is on kicks/punts than he is as a wide receiver.
While the tone of the above may seem a little harsh towards Hester, I really don't mean it to. He's the most exciting football player I have ever had the privilege of watching. I just think asking him to be an every-day receiver is like asking Brian Urlacher to play safety-- he could do some things well but, overall, proves to be much more effective at his natural position. Hester has been given plenty of time to develop into a strong receiver. While he has developed somewhat, he's not one. It's time to use him where he belongs.
I hope the additions of Marshall and Jeffery help the Bears execute that.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed the NFL throughout.
Sources Devin Hester Stats