Tag:Devin Hester
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Five questions (or more) with Gale Sayers

Gale Sayers (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Gale Sayers is a Hall of Fame running back who isn’t afraid to tell Bears fans what he thinks about their team. Earlier this season, the legendary Bears RB dismissed Chicago’s success – a move that predictably drew some heat – and he’s said recently that he thought he was a better kick returner than Devin Hester.

But Sayers also wants to know what YOU think. Which is why he’s teaming up with the Pro Football Hall of Fame (along with Van Heusen and JC Penny) to highlight Fanschoice.com, where fans can pick who they think should make the HOF from this year’s list of finalists.

Said Sayers: “We have about 4 million people who have voted for who they want to see in the Hall of Fame. There are some people they put down that are pretty good players. You have Ray Guy, Jim Plunkett, Lester Hayes and Donnie Shell. There are some people that probably should be in the Hall of Fame but they’re not for some reason.”

Earlier today, we caught up with Sayers and asked his thoughts about his controversial Bears predictions, about Hester’s chances for the Hall of Fame and about his thoughts for Sunday’s Packers-Bears tilt.

Previous Five Questions (or more):

Dec. 10: former Patriots WR Troy Brown

Dec. 3: Panthers QB Brian St. Pierre

Nov. 12: 49ers LB Takeo Spikes

Nov. 5: former WR, current NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson

Oct. 29: Chargers LS Mike Windt

Oct. 15: Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong

Oct. 8:
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich

Sept. 24: Texans WR Kevin Walter

Sept. 17: former Bengals, Titans DT John Thornton

Sept. 11: Seahawks RB Leon Washington

1. CBSSports.com:
Since we’re talking about the Hall of Fame and since you’re already in there, what do you think about a guy like punter Ray Guy? He was the most dominant punter of his time – and of all time – and I know there is only one kicker in the Hall, but what do you think? Should a player like Guy be in?

Gale Sayers:
I was playing in the league when Ray Guy was playing in the league. He was the best kicker I’ve ever seen. He could bullet that ball 70 yards. He was so unbelievable. I just don’t know why they’re not letting a punter into the Hall of Fame. It’s so crazy. One of these days he will get in there.

CBS: Just to dismiss punters doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, you see it every week how much they can affect the game. It’s just kind of crazy.

Sayers:
It really is. If you have a great punter, he’s almost (as valuable as a) great running back. Ray Guy was that great punter. What happens also is that a lot of those people and reporters who vote for Hall of Famers, some of the people who were around when Ray Guy was around are deceased. And some of the reporters don’t remember Ray Guy. He should have been in the Hall of Fame 15 years ago.

2. CBS: Considering you were one of the best kick returners of all time, tell me your thoughts about Devin Hester. Especially since he, like you did, plays for the Bears.

Sayers: They got him now, and he’s run back 14 kicks for touchdowns. That’s pretty good. That’s not bad at all (laughs). Will he be in the Hall of Fame? If he doesn’t get hurt in the next two or three years, and he’s still doing the same thing, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll get in the Hall of Fame. He’s been a super young man to run back punts and kick returns. He has a gift to do that. You hope he goes in the Hall of Fame, but the voters might think, “Well, he’s a kickoff returner, but he should be something else also.” Personally, I think he will get in, but you don’t know. Is (his returning only) enough to get him in the Hall of Fame?

3. CBS: Every week, there’s so much talk about how teams should play Hester. Should they kick to him? Avoid him? Punt it out of bounds? When you were playing, was there that much talk about what other teams should do about you?

Sayers: They punted to me, and after they saw what I could do with the football, they started punting away from me. But we always had two men back. When they kicked to me, I always thought I had a chance to run it back. What we did when they knew I could run back kicks, my coaches put in the offensive line to block for me. Usually, you don’t do that. You usually put in scrubs. But we had the offensive line up in front of me, and they gave me a good chance to get a block that would allow me to return the kick. With Devin Hester, they’re doing some of the things they were doing when I was playing.

4. CBS: You’ve taken some heat for some of the things you said about the Bears in the preseason and earlier this year. I wrote on this blog also about how I didn’t think the Bears were all that good and about how those early wins seemed like flukes to me. What do you think now, and do you like their chances to play for a Super Bowl?

Sayers:
I’m not against the Bears. What I saw out there earlier in the season, they didn’t look that good. I didn’t think they would be competing for the Super Bowl. With them playing the Packers, it’s going to be an outstanding game. I don’t think it will be a high-scoring game. Jay Cutler, he’s a fine quarterback, but I think at times he gets a little nicked up. And (Aaron) Rodgers for the Packers, he’s had a hell of a season. One hell of a season. I think if Cutler is not on and Rodgers is on, the Bears are in trouble. Hopefully, we can stay free of injury, and that’s one thing the Bears have done. You need to do that when you get into the playoffs. The Packers have some injuries, and that might be the difference.

5. CBS: Tell me about the Bears-Packers rivalry when you played in the mid to late-1960s.

Sayers: The Bears fans and the Packers fans really hated one another. But when we got on the football field, the Packers knew and we knew that they were going to give us their best shot and that we were going to give them our best shot. We talked to them on the field, but once the game was over, we shook hands and went home. When we got on that field, we hated one another. Ray Nitschke and Willie Wood – Hall of famers and great football players for them – and you have Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus and Mike Ditka for us, and we fought like dogs.

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Posted on: January 13, 2011 10:42 pm
 

To kick or not kick to Hester?

Posted by Andy Benoit

If Pete Carroll is telling the truth, Sunday’s game in Chicago will have an added dimension of excitement. The Seahawks head coach claims that his club will be willing to let Devin Hester touch the ball in the return game.
D. Hester (US Presswire)
“We’ve got to kick the ball to him,” Carroll said on ESPN 1000. “There’s nothing we can do about it. We’d like to not [punt], though. That would help us.”

Another thing that would help is KICKING THE BALL OUT OF BOUNDS. That’s what most teams do when facing the Bears. Carroll himself acknowledged the reason for this.

"What a great, great player," Carroll said of the all-time touchdown returns leader and newly minted single season punt return average record-holder. "What a treasure he is for the Chicago fans, to be able every time someone kicks him the ball, you think he's going to score a touchdown.”

One of Hester’s three touchdowns on the season came against Seattle back in Week 6. This, along with Carroll’s final comments, suggest that the head coach is being understandably conniving when he says the Seahawks will actually kick Hester the ball: “You have to be very disciplined about the way you play him,” Carroll said. “He’s just too good. And he’s so explosive. So we’re going to do a great job, I hope, of covering and placing the ball where we want to and doing all the things that you need to do so we can maximize our chance of slowing him down.”

In other words, Carroll will probably be asking punter Jon Ryan to boot it out of bounds. Ryan happens to be one of the better placement punters in the NFL.

The Seahawks have their own major return weapon in Leon Washington. Perhaps Carroll can work out a deal with Lovie Smith before the game. (You kick to ours, we’ll kick to yours.) More likely, though, the average starting field position for both teams in Sunday’s game will be somewhere around the 40-yard line.

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Posted on: January 13, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 8:31 pm
 

Bears vs. Seahawks: 7-Point Divisional Preview

Posted by Andy Benoit



CBSSports.com's patented and award-winning 7-point preview gets you ready for each and every playoff game. As an added bonus, check out our playoff podcast preview:



1. Seattle Seahawks (No. 4, NFC, 8-9) @ Chicago Bears (No. 2, NFC, 11-5)

Arguably the most unlikely second-round playoff team in NFL history goes on the road (like it should have had to do in the wild card round) to face a storied franchise that filled up the bottom half of everybody’s NFC North preseason rankings.

No taking potshots at the Seahawks this week (aside from that little “going on the road” one…which not even the most fiery Seattleites can, deep down, disagree with); Pete Carroll’s men played too well against the Saints to be mocked.

Besides, Seattle beat Chicago at Soldier Field back in Week 6. It was Marshawn Lynch’s Seahawk debut, and his club became, at the time, just the second team to rush for more than 85 yards against Chicago’s reinvigorated defense. (Lynch wound up with 44 of Seattle’s 111 rushing yards; his former Cal teammate, Justin Forsett, had 67). Regardless of what happens from here on out, Lynch will forever be remembered for his earth-rumbling 67-yard run against the Saints.

He’ll need similar tenacity Sunday. The Bears held opponents to an NFC-best 90.1 yards rushing per game during the regular season. Forsett’s quickness won’t be as viable on the sloppy Soldier Field surface; the Seahawks will need to call upon their new hero.

2. PLAYOFFS?! Watchability Ranking



The Seahawks bring a David factor to this equation, but it’s not like the 11-win Bears are a big bad Goliath.

3. Key Matchup to Watch: Earl Thomas/Lofa Tatupu vs. Bears Passing Offense

After tearing him apart in the regular season, the Saints were eager to pick on rookie safety Earl Thomas Saturday. But the first-round pick from Texas responded admirably, finishing second on the team with eight tackles. Thomas showcased blazing speed on many of those tackles – including one where he crossed the field to hunt down Reggie Bush.

That speed will be crucial against Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, Chicago’s two playmaking receivers. Though a slapdash offensive line has compelled Mike Martz to call fewer seven-step-drop passes in 2010, you can bet the Bears will still look to stretch the field a time or two. The Seahawks gave up an NFC-high 60 passes of 20 yards or more during the regular season. They also allowed 11 passes of 40-plus yards (tied for fourth most in football). Some of those passes were due to Thomas’ misreads.

Thomas is obviously more experienced than when the Bears last saw him, but given how vulnerable Seattle’s corners are to downfield patterns (knee injuries have cost Marcus Trufant a half-step; No. 2 corner Kelly Jennings struggles with his outside change-of-direction technique at times) Martz and Jay Cutler will be tempted to showcase their big-play prowess on a high-stakes stage.

As far as Tatupu goes, his speed and instincts are key to Seattle’s short-area pass defense. The Bears completed 51 passes to running back Matt Forte this season (tied with Knox for the team lead). Seattle may want to consider shadowing Forte with their veteran Pro Bowl middle linebacker.

4. Potentially Relevant Video

Pete Carroll should make his special teams unit watch this video 10 times a day the rest of this week.



5. The Seahawks will win if ...

They get another spectacular performance from Matt Hasselbeck and take advantage of Chicago’s issues with recognizing pass blocking assignments (that is if the Bears haven’t corrected these issues over the past two weeks).

6. The Bears will win if ...

They simply break even with Seattle in the “mistakes” category and can take advantage of the favorable mismatches for their defensive line.

7. Prediction: Bears 24, Seahawks 17

Posted on: January 4, 2011 7:49 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 8:17 pm
 

Hot Routes 01.04.11: Is Todd Haley a 'fraud'?

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) .
  • In case you didn't read it, Jason Whitlock of FOX Sports called Todd Haley "the biggest fraud in football." Well, "quite possibly the biggest fraud in football" anyway. That's a bold statement from a guy who knows KC pretty well. 

Posted on: January 3, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Headline: Hot Routes 1.3.11: final stats overview

Posted by Andy Benoit



Because nobody cares about the box scores in Week 17, we’ll use this opportunity to take a final look at some of the interesting individual player stats from the 2010 NFL season.
  • Brandon Lloyd wound up leading the league in receiving yards (1,448). Second in receiving was Roddy White (1,389) who, oddly enough, had 38 fewer receptions than Lloyd.
  • Chris Johnson finished with1,364 yards rushing, which ranked seventh in the NFL and left him 1,136 yards shy of his preseason goal.
  • Guess who finished sixth in the NFL in passer rating: Josh Freeman. The Bucs will be a very trendy pick in 2011 – you watch.
  • Tom Brady had 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The last time we saw a ratio this impressive was…well, Tom Brady. In 2007 he threw 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
  • Danny Amendola finished ninth in the NFL in total receptions (85) but averaged just 8.1 yards per catch. The 8.1 yards was easily an all-time low for a wide receiver with at least 60 receptions.
  • DeSean Jackson had a 1,000 yard season despite only 47 receptions. He averaged 22.5 yards per catch (or nearly three Danny Amendola catches per catch).
  • Mike Wallace averaged 21.0 yards per catch and finished fifth in the entire NFL in receiving yards.
  • Devin Hester set an NFL record by averaging 17.1 yards per punt return.
  • DeMarcus Ware wound up leading the NFL in sacks (15.5). Did anyone even know that Ware was in contention for a sack title? His three sacks in the final game against Philly’s backups pushed him ahead of Tamba Hali (14.5 sacks).
  • Ed Reed played in only 10 games but still led the NFL with eight interceptions.
  • The interceptions leader list also tells us that two first-round rookie cornerbacks really lived up: New England’s Devin McCourty (seven picks) and Cleveland’s Joe Haden (six).
  • Miami’s Dan Carpenter, a Pro Bowler in ’08, tied Washington’s Graham Gano for the league-lead in missed field goals (11). Both won Special Teams Player of the Week awards at some point during the season, though.


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Posted on: December 30, 2010 3:22 pm
 

Hot Routes 12.30.10 who will admit they'll rest?

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Saints wideout Marques Colston had an arthroscopic procedure done on his right knee Tuesday. He’s had a history of issues with his left knee. The Saints are saying he is questionable for this Sunday against the Bucs.


Clinton Portis thinks he can still be an elite running back. (They all do.)


No surprise here: Chad Ochocinco is expected to sit out the Bengals’ season finale.

We’re refusing to write yet another article on which Niners QB gets the start, which is why we’re passing along the news in Hot Routes this time. (This week’s starting QB will be Alex Smith.)


John Harbaugh says he’ll likely keep his starters on the field against the Bengals. The Ravens can still win the AFC North if the Browns somehow upset the Steelers. Both of these games will be played at 1:00.


Speculation about John Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, joining the 49ers is continuing to heat up.


Devin Hester hopes to keep the Packers out of the playoffs. He says they’re a good team and he’d hate to face them three times in one year.


Is Tuesday night football in the NFL’s future? The ratings for the Vikings-Eagles game were huge (23.7 million viewers).


If the Seahawks win Sunday and make the playoffs, they’ll cost themselves about 10 spots in the 2011 Draft.


Giants Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee is defending his head coach/father-in-law.


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: December 27, 2010 3:56 pm
 

We don't the Bears fully maximize Hester?

Posted by Andy Benoit

Something that has become downright impossible to understand is why the Chicago Bears occasionally leave Devin Hester on the bench for kickoff returns. They actually kept Hester out of the kick return role for essentially all of last season, but midway through this year, they wised up and re-inserted him.
D. Hester (US Presswire)
Still, about once or twice a game this season, including Sunday against the Jets, the Bears will replace Hester on kick returns with Danieal Manning. To be fair, Manning’s swift speed makes him one of the most lethal return weapons in the game. He has more 40-plus-yard kickoff returns than any player in football since 20-08.

But to be fairer, Hester is the greatest return weapon of all-time. His mere presence on the field makes opposing coaches tremble and gladly sacrifice field position for security. This is why the Bears have the best average starting field position in the NFL.

Hester was only able to get his hands on one kickoff against the Jets Sunday; he took it back 40 yards, even though, initially, a return of 20 yards seemed impossible. Hester’s lone punt return went for 38 yards.

Hester has essentially settled into a No. 3 receiver role, so it’s not like the return duties are overly taxing anymore. And his contributions as a receiver are almost moot in this discussion anyway, because Hester’s primary value to the Bears is – or should be – as a returner. So what’s up with limiting his kick returns?

“Once the game is going, we go with the hot hand,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub told the team’s website earlier this month. “Also, we’ll see if Danieal is fresh or not. Sometimes Danieal is due to go, but they’ve had a long drive on defense and he’s tired, so we go to Devin. Sometimes we’ll start a game with a particular returner just because of the game plan situation.

“We want to see sometimes how they’re going to react to Danieal or react to Devin, so we’ll start with different guys. We don’t want to get into a specific pattern where we do the same thing over and over.”

Toub’s logic certainly makes sense. But the reality is, there is not much to see for how teams will react to Hester: they’ll either kick it to the most dangerous special teams player in the game or they’ll shy away and automatically give the Bears good field position.

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Posted on: December 21, 2010 11:19 am
 

Hot Routes 12.21.10: Ryan Leaf's Trilogy???

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Ryan Leaf, according to the Sporting News, is preparing to write a book about his career. Now, the obvious joke might be "I bet it's a short one!" right? Wrong. It's going to be a trilogy. The first installment will "cover four years" according to Leaf, "from the moment i decided to attend Washington State up through our Rose Bowl appearance in 1998." He also mentions "colorful characters" and "shenanigans," so it's bound to be a bestseller. Unlike the second and third installments, which should probably turn out as well as his NFL career.
  • Pat Bowlen and the beancounters in the Broncos organization may or may not be nudging Eric Studesville and politely screaming "START Tim Tebow SO WE CAN MAKE SOME MONEY!"
  • Devin Hester got a little choked up talking about his NFL record for returns on Monday and as Jerod Morris points out, it's nice to see such a humble and hard-working guy achieve such incredible success.
  • John Ourand makes some bold NFL-related (and other sports too) media predictions for the next 12 months over at Sports Business Journal. Obviously, his prediction about a CBS Sports channel is solely predicated on too-handsome-for-just-radio face. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com