Watching Devin Hester run wild for the Atlanta Falcons is a sore spot for some Chicago Bears fans. He was one of the most popular players during his time in Chicago because of his electrifying returns and the fact that he was always a threat to score with the ball in his hands.
As a return specialist he has no equal, but as a wide receiver, he struggled at times. I really don't think the Bears ever used him properly. He was never a guy you build the receiving corps around, he was a complimentary weapon. A few touches here and there, a jet sweep, a fake end around, run a wheel route of of the backfield, and get him in motion when ever possible.
After his 1 carry for 20 yards and a touchdown, 1 reception for 25 yards and his record setting 62 yard punt return, Hester spoke with the NFL Network post game show.
"I'm happy, man." Hester said of being in Atlanta. "You know what, I'm going to say it, man. I wasn't happy the last three, four years in Chicago, because things wasn't going the way I expect. I would always have a great camp, have all the receivers saying and coaches saying I had the best camp out of all the receivers. And once the season start off, I'm not there.
"You know, and I got a quarterback now that, he loves even the walk-ons, man. And the coaches know how to get the ball to me, you know, make plays for me. And I'm excited for this season, man. This is only the beginning for our team."
Hester deserves some of the blame for his lack of development as a receiver with the Bears, but so does his past offensive coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice. So does his Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake. You can pin some of the blame on general manager Jerry Angelo, who decided to pay Hester around $40 million for 4 years, and then assuming his work in finding a legitimate #1 receiver was done. And you can also blame his former head coach Lovie Smith, who ultimately was responsible for how Hester was used.
Had Hester been drafted into a situation with an offensive minded head coach I think his career would have been different. He could have done some of the unique things on offense that we see from Seattle's Percy Harvin or Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson. He could have been the end around guy for Marc Trestman's Bears instead of Alshon Jeffery.
Bears' fans no doubt remember Hester's drops, his poor route running and his teammates telling him where to line up. Maybe he had some struggles with the intricacies of the position and the challenges of learning a full playbook, but that's just more reason to use him in a smaller role.
Some of his comments from last night could come off as sour grapes, but remember it was Hester himself that went to Marc Trestman and expressed a desire to only be a return man in 2013. As only a returner, Hester still has some value, but the Falcons signed him to a 3 year $9 million deal with the notion that he would play offense too. Three million a year is far too much to give to a guy that only wants to return kicks and punts, even if that player is the greatest of all time.
Had Hester given Trestman a chance to utilize his skill set, who knows what could have been last year. When Hester's contract expired it made sense for the Bears, and for Hester, to go a different direction. Hester seems to be in a good situation with the Falcons, and even though the Bears are struggling to find an adequate return man, they made the right decision for the future of the franchise.
And in regards at the supposed shot at his former quarterback Jay Cutler, I would guess the frustration went both ways. Hester didn't feel the "love" from Jay and Cutler wasn't comfortable with having Hester as his primary receiver.
What are your thoughts on Hester's comments, his future with Atlanta, and on his Bears legacy?