Drake leaves perplexed by Hester's woes
January, 29, 2013
By Staff | ESPNChicago.com
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh"The Devin Hester Package" never surfaced this season as he caught just 23 passes.As Darryl Drake leaves the Chicago Bears after nine seasons as receivers coach, he is preparing to work with one of the best in the NFL, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald. But Drake is also thinking about leaving a receiver in Chicago who never seemed to match his potential.
Before this season, Drake said that if Devin Hester didn't catch more than 26 passes, then "we failed him." Hester caught just 23. Drake was asked why on Tuesday during a visit to "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000.
"I couldn't tell you," Drake said. "Again, when you have a guy with that kind of talent, and he does have talent -- contrary to what a lot of people say, he does have talent -- he feeds off success, and any guy like him has to be involved.
"And I've heard we're going to have 'The Devin Hester Package,' I've heard that for I don't know how many years. And I'm part of it, but I haven't seen it. I haven't seen it come into fruition on Sundays, but I think a guy with his ability, the more you get it to him, the more you see, the better he is. When you don't get it to him, then frustration sets in, and you'll see it."
Hester was so frustrated after Lovie Smith was fired as head coach on Dec. 31 that he talked about retirement because he was no longer enjoying football.
"I don't even know if I want to play again," Hester said at the time. "That's been something on my mind for two years.
"It's not (much fun for me anymore). I've got my workers' comp papers in my pocket. We'll see how I feel. I'm going to go home and talk to my wife and talk to my family and see where we go from there. I got two beautiful kids, man, two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately."
Hester caught a team-high and career-high 57 passes in 2009, but that's decreased every subsequent season.
"I look at Green Bay, they have a 'Randall Cobb Package,'" Drake said. "They do things with him. Why can't you do those things with Devin Hester? Why can't you put him in the backfield and bring him out of the backfield?
"I think he is (good enough). I don't see why he shouldn't be, why he couldn't be. The guy with the ball in his hands is the greatest punt returner maybe in the history of the game with the ball in his hands. Put the ball in his hands. It's that simple. It is that simple, in my opinion. Find a way to put the ball in his hands, period."
The ball usually found its way into the hands of Brandon Marshall, who caught 118 passes for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns. There was some criticism that Jay Cutler didn't look for other receivers enough.
Drake said he believes Cutler has the ability to be a franchise quarterback, and he thinks Cutler is working on his leadership skills.
"He can be (a franchise quarterback)," Drake said. "He has the ability to be. He has people around him, I think, that can give him that opportunity. So does he have that kind of ability? No doubt about it.
"I think those (leadership skills) are some things he can improve on, and I think he's working on that. I think there are some things he learns about himself each and every year. At the same time, I think he sees that the sand in the hourglass is running and dropping fast. But I do see him working on those things and I think he'll continue to get better at those things."