Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Many Happy Returns

Congratulations, Devin Hester, for your NFL-record SIXTH return for a touchdown this year. Man, that is a serious accomplishment. You were dynamite at the University of Miami, and you are even more so in your rookie season with the Chicago Bears.

Very impressive, indeed.

For the past two/three years, Devin Hester was the best and certainly the most highly visible kick returner in the college game. He dabbled at wide receiver, defensive back and running back, but the real value he brought to his team was as a breakaway kick returner.

In March and April 2006, however, most NFL scouts and draftniks summarily dismissed him as a “player without a position” and projected him as a fourth-round draft pick.

Kudos to the Bears for recognizing the value of an explosive return game and jumping up to take him in the second round. That surprised pretty much everybody.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls suspect the Steelers had their eye on the young Mr. Hester and wanted to draft him to replace Antwaan Randle-El as the primary kick returner … but we also suspect the Bears recognized this and acted aggressively to beat the Steelers to this draft pick.

This, we surmise, had a ripple effect on the Steelers draft tactics: After the Bears drafted Devin Hester, the Steelers panicked and drafted another player without a position: Willie Reid, the very raw wide receiver from Florida State, in the third round, primarily to return kicks.

Do we want to review how well that worked out? Didn’t think so.

So let’s get right to it.

For some reason, Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher, in the solipsist disquietude of consciousness, sat Willie Reid in the early games of the season in favor of Retardo Ricardo Coughley and Santonio Holmes, both of whom demonstrated an uncanny ability to fumble repeatedly.

When Willie Reid finally saw his first game action, he returned one punt for 11 yards and promptly sustained an injured foot that ended his season.

Congratulations to all.

No comments: