This off season for the Chicago Bears has been nothing short of unforgettable. You know the story. Tenured head coach – gone. Face of the franchise – gone. Most of the coaching staff was cleaned out and Chicago is starting fresh. No one single player was more upset with the first move of getting rid of Lovie Smith than wide receiver – now return specialist – Devin Hester.
Hester was seen by reporters the morning the news broke sitting by his locker with his head down, doing what he could to hold back his emotions while responding to reporters in a demeanor of despair. Hester’s heart and passion for the game was questioned after telling reporters he may retire from the game of football in obvious pain after losing a mentor in Smith.
Fast forward a few weeks post-firing, and Hester came forward publicly stating he would love to return to Chicago still this season, but on one condition: Solely as a return specialist. The Bears obliged and it appears Hester will get a shot to focus on what made him so unique at the start of his career.
New special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis has enjoyed success just about everywhere he has been, most notably with the Dallas Cowboys. He has expressed excitement over joining forces with Hester, stating that Hester has not lost a step and he looks forward to getting him back to where he was a couple of years back.
The question is, will Hester bounce back to form?
Over the past decade or so, the Bears have had a fairly solid group on special teams. Blocking really hasn’t been the issue for Hester, though many pin the struggles on that. The problem has clearly been that of a mental road block for Hester. He has looked skittish at times, as if he could not make up his mind on which direction to take the ball or even if he wanted to attempt a return in the first place.
From the sound of DeCamillis, he will not settle for mediocrity. He has come into all of his new positions on previous teams with a plan and has been able to get it done with the players handed to him. I do not see Chicago being any different. Hester still has a lot of talent, and from here on out it will be about coaching and establishing the mindset of success within the seemingly easily-swayed return man.
If DeCamillis can instill some confidence within Hester, I believe he will see increased production in his new role. It would be fantastic to watch him take a few to the house this year, and I think that will certainly be the case.