I've been dealing with Internet installation today, so maybe I'm a bit cranky (it also explains why you haven't seen me much today). Maybe in a saner state of mind I wouldn't be looking at this news and wondering if the Bears have finally gone plumb loco.
Hang, on, maybe you haven't heard yet. According to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune, Devin Hester may be taken off kick returns duties.
It seems that the Bears are really determined to make Hester a wide receiver come hell or high water. They feel that they—hang on, I can't even bring myself to type this, so I'm just going to use the quote McClure had from head coach Lovie Smith.
"We have that versatility now," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We added another good player into the [kick-return] mix in Devin Thomas."
Well, yes, of course you can take Hester off kick returns now that you have Devin Thomas and Eric Weems on the team. I mean, who needs the most dangerous kick returner in the history of the NFL returning kicks when you can have the one two juggernaut punch of WEEMS AND THOMAS.
I know, I know—I just shuddered with fear as I wrote that.
Seriously, I get that Hester's return yard average was down last year. You tell me though, who is going to scare teams more. Hester? Or Weems/Thomas? Do you ever expect any television analyst to shout DON'T KICK IT TO WEEMS! before or during a telecast?
Hester is a big play waiting to happen when he's returning kicks and punts (admittedly something the article states will continue to be his job). With the changes in the kickoff rules and the spot where the ball is kicked from, don't you want your best guy there shagging balls?
Aside from that, I have to ask: what is this obsession with getting Hester to succeed as a receiver? We're four years into this abomination of an effort, and he's averaged 566 yards a year and never scored more than four touchdowns.
Four years in are we really thinking this is suddenly going to change? That if he could only fully concentrate on being a receiver, he'd translate his awesome athletic ability into—what? A 1,000-yard receiver?
Don Quixote called and he wanted to let the Bears know they are probably hallucinating.
This from a team which refuses to lock their best player, Matt Forte, into a long contract. A team that, against all evidence to the contrary, thinks the offensive line is going to be just fine and needs no adjustments.
It'd be one thing if they had found the new Devin Hester. They haven't. Thomas has bounced to three (now four) teams in his brief career while Weems has pretty much been a middling special teams player during his.
This is the awesome might the Bears wish to unleash upon the league?
A few extra yards per return exchanged for almost no chance of a touchdown.
You're removing one of your best assets from one of the two roles he best fits.
The Bears may think they are creating some sort of new mismatch to worry their foes in the NFC North.
All they will really achieve is allowing them to sleep more soundly at night.