Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Blogger Blitz: Devin Hester as a receiver
By Kevin Seifert
I planned out a Chicago Bears-related topic for this week's Blogger Blitz before the team announced a contract extension for linebacker Lance Briggs. That will make for a Bears-centric day on the blog, but as we've always said, these things even out.
The video centers around the Bears' plans to re-focus Devin Hester once again on their offense, possibly at the expense of his role as a returner. Bears coach Lovie Smith indicated as much last month at the NFL owners meetings, as Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune notes. With Eric Weems and Devin Thomas on the roster, it's possible that Hester will work only as a punt returner in addition to receiver, while Weems and Thomas return kickoffs.
I understand the lure, but I feel like we've been down this road before. In 2008 and 2009, the Bears worked hard to work more of his game-breaking skills into their offense. He responded with 51 receptions in 2008 and a career-high 57 in 2009. The tradeoff? He didn't return a single punt or kickoff for a touchdown in either year.
Coincidentally or otherwise, the Bears pulled back a bit on his receiving duties in 2010 and 2011. Since that point, Hester has six returns for touchdowns.
The Bears don't think this is an "either-or" proposition, and they might be right. To this point, however, it has been. What's more important? Getting more offense from Hester or getting a Hall of Fame performance as a returner?