Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears leaves the field after a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It's hard to remember how this happened, but someone once suggested Devin Hester would make a good wide receiver.
Now, entering his seventh season, will he get around to that?
Don't hold your breath.
Hester believes he's due "because of (offensive coordinator) Mike Tice. When a guy comes up to you and says, ‘If I can’t get the ball in your hands I don’t deserve to be a head coach.’ For a guy to say that and know what I’m capable of and honestly says he has a lot of faith in me, (that’s encouraging),” Hester said.
But Mike Tice isn't a head coach. He's an offensive coordinator. He was a head coach. He put up an astounding record of 32-33 when he was a head coach.
Perhaps he's become afflicted with Mike Martz syndrome, where you think you're still the head coach of your old team, so you start calling plays that don't work with your personnel.
Roll the clock back and you'll remember Devin Hester was once a defensive back. When he started returning kicks, everyone salivated at the opportunity of using him on offense. But it hasn't worked. And it won't.
Gather 'round and heed the story of Deion Sanders. He was a defensive back and a return man extraordinaire. In 1996, someone with the Cowboys thought he'd make an awesome wide receiver. One season, 36 receptions, 475 yards and one touchdown later, the experiment was over. (And he still played DB during that stretch.)
In five seasons as a receiver, Hester's only topped Sanders' yardage twice. And he's been a full-time receiver. So if Hester can't put up better numbers than a part-time wide receiver who played the position for just one year, what's the point?
Last year, Hester grabbed a terrible 26 receptions for 369 yards and one touchdown. Again, worse than the one-year Sanders experiment.
Hester isn't much of a route runner. He doesn't even have great hands. At 5-foot-11, he's not an effective end zone target. What he does best is find holes and blow through them at full speed. So why not use him as a running back in some kind of wildcat formation? Put him 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and let him pick his spots. Or not. That's probably a dumb idea, too.
It's wonderful that Hester is possibly the greatest return man in NFL history. But you didn't see teams bending over backward to accommodate Eric Metcalf or Vai Sikahema or Mel Gray. Sometimes you have a Steve Tasker on your team. And you just wait for special teams to let him be special.