Blog Entry

Cutler 'shocked' anyone would kick to Hester

Posted on: October 17, 2011 11:30 am
Look familiar, Bears' opponents? Please quit kicking to Devin Hester(US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's amazing what Jay Cutler can accomplish when he isn't constantly running for his life. Against the Vikings Sunday night, the Bears quarterback was 21 of 31 for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was a big reason for Chicago's 39-10 victory over a hapless Minnesota team. Also helping: the Vikings' insistence on kicking to Devin Hester, a Hall of Fame returner if there ever was one.

Hester had a 98-yard kick return in the third quarter, a 27-yard punt return, and for good measure, a 48-yard touchdown reception.

“I think the shocking part for us is that people still kick to him because he’s such a threat,” Cutler said after the game. “And we know he is taking a shot, he might take one to the house, so it’s fun.”

And that's the thing: why do teams keep kicking to Hester? What rational explanation could there be? Two weeks ago, the Panthers were reminded of just how dangerous Hester is. We brought it up during Week 4's Coach Killers column but apparently it bears repeating: Did we learn nothing from Mike Shanahan, or Tony Dungy or, more generally speaking, Tom Coughlin and Matt Dodge?

The Panthers might've beaten the Bears if not for two bone-headed special teams miscues that involved kicking or punting the ball right to Hester. The Vikings still would've gotten blown out Sunday night, but the point remains: it doesn't take any talent to kick (hey, having Chicago start at the 40 is better than the alternative) or punt the ball out of bounds.

“It’s exciting when you’ve got a guy back there you know is a difference-maker and if you get your block and if everybody gets their blocks, he can make guys miss and make things happen,” tight end Matt Spaeth said Sunday night, according to “It’s exciting to be out there.”

Yeah, we bet.

Coach Lovie Smith added: “There’s never been anyone like him. ... We're all kind of witnessing history every time he touches it.”

And that's the truth. PFT's Michael David Smith points out that "Hester has 11 punt return touchdowns, five kickoff return touchdowns and one missed field goal return touchdown in his NFL career."

No one has done that, and it's why Hester will likely one day end up in Canton sporting a spiffy yellow blazer.

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Since: Jan 6, 2009
Posted on: October 17, 2011 6:54 pm

Cutler 'shocked' anyone would kick to Hester

Cutler was ecstatic because he wasn't on his arse all night.

Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: October 17, 2011 4:00 pm

Hester 'shocked' Cutler didn't throw interception

When Hester was asked what shocked him he replied, "I am shocked Jay Cutler did not throw multiple interceptions that would have wiped out the advantage from my great special teams play".

The Bears defense was also shocked they did not have to go back on the field after the normal interceptions every game.


Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: October 17, 2011 1:26 pm

Cutler 'shocked' anyone would kick to Hester

The hidden greatness of Hester can't be measured in stats, but in field position and preparation time.  When you have to devote extra practice time to punt or kickoff coverage, that means your team isn't preparing its offense and defense.  Additionally, when teams don't kick to him, you see the results similar to last night--18 yd punts.  It just reminds me of watching Jordan and his last 3 years with the Bulls--you knew you were watching the single greatest athlete at his position, and you knew to enjoy it while it lasted 'cause there would never be another one like him.

Since: Nov 16, 2009
Posted on: October 17, 2011 1:00 pm

Cutler 'shocked' anyone would kick to Hester

Punts with Hester out there should never be returnable, but I don't think letting the Bears start on the 40 with every kickoff is the answer.  He has 5 career kickoff return TD's, so the odds are still largely against him running a kickoff back on any given Sunday.

Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:36 pm

Cutler 'shocked' anyone would kick to Hester

An 18 yard punt would be 10 yards less than a 55 yard punt and a 27 yard return so I would say the 18 yard punt is worse.

Since: Feb 4, 2011
Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:14 pm

You have to have faith in your special teams

What's worse, an 18 yard punt with no return, or a 55 yard punt with a 27 yard Devin Hester return???

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