Stop me if this sounds familiar. The Chicago Bears start their training camp, and all the coaches and players are talking about how Devin Hester is ready to have a breakout season. However, as we've seen in the past, those predictions and others have fallen short of becoming true, especially last season.
In 2011, Hester played all 16 games, yet only averaged 23.1 yards per game, his lowest output since 2007, which was his first year receiving. So, since this has happened again, why should fans believe wide receivers coach Darryl Drake? Is this really the season that Hester is going to break out and have a stand-out season as an offensive player? Actually, most signs point to the answer being yes.
First off, the most obvious reason is that Hester no longer has the pressure of being a No. 1 receiver. For years, Hester was expected to be the No. 1 guy on the team, and we all know how that ended up.
It's time to face it, Hester will never be a No. 1 receiver on this team. He just simply does not have the skill set required to be a No. 1 guy. With the addition of Brandon Marshall, plus the drafting of Alshon Jeffery, there are now new names in this wide receiving core that have higher expectations than that of Devin Hester, and that will benefit him. With less pressure on the offensive side of the ball, Hester can finally perform up to his potential.
Another reason on offense is the coaching. Mike Tice is doing the opposite of what Mike Martz did, by taking input from players as opposed to demanding things be done his way.
How will this help Devin Hester? It's simple, really. Hester can work on plays with Cutler, plays that utilize his speed but also allow Cutler to get rid of the ball in a timely fashion, not like the seven step drop-back everyone has heard so much about.
With Hester's lightning fast speed and Cutler's cannon for an arm, the two, along with Mike Tice, can work on plays that zero in on their specialties and highlight specifically what they want, instead of Cutler throwing the ball on the run from defenders.
Finally, Hester has less pressure on special teams. Yes, special teams is where Devin Hester makes his money. It is where he has set records, where he makes his home on the team and it is what he is known best for.
However, Devin Hester is not the only guy on special teams. After word that Knox may miss most of the 2012 season, the Bears went out and got return specialist Eric Weems from Atlanta. In doing this, the team was sending a message to Hester, saying that while they expected nothing but greatness out of him this upcoming season, he is still human and they have help for him when he needs it. This creates less pressure but also keeps him on his game, because he doesn't want to be replaced on special teams.
The 2012-13 season for the Chicago Bears is already looking to be a different one than that of years past. With new coaches, players, even front office members, one would be safe betting that players will be having different seasons as well. Bears fans have every right to believe that this is the year that Hester will break out and have a record-breaking season as a wide receiver. While Hester may have fallen short on fulfilling those predictions in seasons past, it's never too late to start.
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