Chicago Sun-Times

Lovie Smith says Bears need to "find more ways" to get Devin Hester the ball

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Bears receiver Devin Hester regained his mojo as a return specialist last offseason.

But Hester's production as a receiver took a big step backward.

After making improvements in three consecutive seasons, Hester's receiving yardage dropped by 282 from 2009 to 2010. Hester, who had 475 receiving yards, also had 17 fewer catches.

"He didn't get into the mix as much as he probably would have liked. I liked what he was able to do in the return game. I just think it's hard sometimes balancing the both of them," Smith said. "I just know he's a dangerous guy with his hands on the ball. It's up to us to try to find more ways to give him the football."

Asked if he'd like Hester to play fewer offensive snaps, Smith said, "You know, the snap part, I would like to see us find a way to get him the ball more maybe in certain situations.

The goal, Smith said, would to take "away some of his reps and be able to get him involved more on the ones he's out there."

Hester was the primary punt returner last season, but Danieal Manning was the primary kickoff returner. With Manning not under contract, the Bears may have to consider other options. One would be to call upon Johnny Knox, who was a Pro Bowl kick returner as a rookie in 2009. But the team may not be inclined to ask him to handle that on a full-time basis.

With the new kickoff rule -- which means more touchbacks -- perhaps the Bears could consider splitting that duty between Hester and Knox. The latter averaged 29 yards per kickoff in 2009, while Hester averaged 35.6 on 12 returns in 2010.

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So Lovie wants to get Hester the ball more, but also wants him on the field less. Ok that's actually pretty normal for Lovie Logic.

Now Devin is a threat with the ball in his had in the right situation(Punt returns/Kick Returns). And the Bears have used Hester as a reciever, RB, Wildcat, Punt returner, kick returner. Even used him on defense a couple of times. As a reciever he runs mostly comebacks and screens. If the Bears do a trick play Devin is usually involved.

Ummm outside of making him the QB, which they do in the Wildcat, I am not sure there is much more you can do.

I know how about putting him back on returns full time and brining him in on certain offensive plays theat are designed for him and then getting a legit reciever on the field to replace a guy who gets lost on go routs.

I will tell you what is really bugging Lovie, he is losing his short field. Apperantly the NFL is not a fan of special teams play. Which is to bad for the NFL, I am huge fan of special teams. No, what Lovie should be really worried about is not Devin Hester, Devin is Devin, a great returner and a mediocre to bad reciever. What he should concern himself with is the O-line, more O-Line and yet more O-Line, cause now they have to protect more because they have to march down the field further. Worry about the DT position, worry about getting a legit top of line reciever, worry about getting a young talented Corner, worry about actually throwing the challenge flag or takig a timeout at the right time.

What you don't worry about is how to get Devin the ball more when you have already done everythihng you can to make that happen. You can't worry about his return production dropping, because of a new rule that you have no control over. All returners are going to suffer. Nothing can be done about that this year. The NFL nuked the blocking scheme on special teams not so long ago and they nuked the kickoff point. Toub can't do it for you all the time. The starting fielf postion training wheels are off, time to step up the offense.

Well, I'll say this for Lovie, he's consistent. Unfortunately, he's consistently stupid. They've spent the last four years trying to get Hester the ball more and all it did was destroy the greatest kick returner ever. Hester finally gets his returning mojo back because he's not totally gassed from playing receiver, and Lovie says he wants more receiver. Why not ask him to give you more cowbell while you're at it? At least he'd be able to deliver on that.

"I liked what he was able to do in the return game. I just think it's hard sometimes balancing the both of them,"

Exactly, Lovie. It's hard to do both, so pick the one you like that also happens to be the one he's going to the hall of fame for. But no, that would be too obvious. Damn you, Tice, Martz, and Cutler. Damn you third string quarterbacks. Damn you stupid NFL completion rules, and damn every other lucky bounce the Bears got last season that has cursed us with several more years of Lovie and his mind-numbing decisions. I really don't know how I'm going to make it through next season.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on March 30, 2011 9:04 AM.

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