In trying to support Hester, Drake indicts him

I don’t think Darryl Drake meant to expose Devin Hester as mentally and emotionally weak, but the former Chicago Bears wide receivers coach just gave the Bears' fake wide receiver something else to mope about.

“The thing about Devin is, the stars need to align right,’’ Drake said in the Tribune. “What I mean by that is, things have to be in order to excel. That’s just how he’s made. If things are right, then he’ll excel. If not, then he may struggle here and there.’’

Palm to forehead. Look, nothing is ever in order in football. Every game plan requires ad-libbing. Things aren’t perfect even in Madden ’13. Deal with it.

Nope, Drake is saying that Hester can’t deal with it. He can’t be great unless everything is juuuuuuusssst right. We know wide receivers are divas, but geez, this sounds like Hester is all “Toddler sand Tiaras.’’

What’s worse, Drake said Hester’s duties as a kick and punt returner didn’t get in the way of Hester’s learning the wideout spot. So, Hester was a disaster on his own merit, I guess.

Again, I don’t think Drake intended to indict Hester, but he underscored the idea that Hester isn’t smart enough to handle the mental demands of the position while adding to the evidence that he’s short of the first down emotionally, too.

“There wasn’t a lot for him to shoulder,’’ Drake said. “Devin just needs to be involved. When you have a guy of his caliber, you’ve got to get him involved. Guys like him feed off success. When he wasn’t involved, then he was frustrated. It’s hard to play this game frustrated. That’s the bottom line.’’

No, here’s the bottom line: Grow up.

Drake is a coach, now with Arizona, and of all people, a coach knows about earning the right to be more involved, not using it as an excuse for failure.

Hester certainly hasn’t earned that right. I mean, learn the playbook, for starters. Run a professional route, for another. Oh, and catch the ball, pal.

Drake’s comment stops just short of saying that Hester holds his breath until he turns blue. Nice profile.

The Bears should stop enabling a guy who’s wasting everyone’s time at the position, even if the Bears brought this on themselves when the last regime neutered the greatest returner in NFL history.

Drake also should assume some of the blame for failing to make Hester better in several obvious areas: back-shoulder catches, fighting for jump balls, and, goodness, just the basic running of routes.

Cutler loves throwing to the back shoulder and throwing passes as if he believes his receivers always can go up and get it. From the first pass he threw to Hester in an exhibition game, the quarterback realized Hester was none of that.

In fact, Cutler specifically commented after that game that he learned Hester is not a back-shoulder guy and not a go-up-and-get-it guy. Little did he know that Hester wasn’t much of a route-running guy, either. Ditto for just catching the thing.

No wonder Cutler didn’t get Hester more involved. He didn’t trust him. Reading what Drake said, it didn’t sound as if Cutler also had much tolerance for Hester’s weak act.

“Jay is a tough, tough-minded guy,’’ Drake said. “He looks at things a lot differently. Devin is more of a compassionate-type guy. They’re total opposites. At times, that probably made things a little bit tougher. But could they co-exist? Sure, if they both work at it. But it takes both of them to do it.’’

Yeah, well, it’s not worth it. Not worth the time and effort. We’ve seen enough of Hester's act in the offense to know that we don’t want to see any more of it.

I don’t know what new coach Marc Trestman plans to do, but I hope he doesn’t get enamored of the pretty, shiny thing. You can’t run an uptempo offense with a receiver who needs a Garmin to find his route.

But wait, Hester might not be coming back at all. When Lovie Smith was fired, remember, Hester had that famous meltdown, gurgling between tears that he might retire.

It’s a rash thought born from a dismissal that shocked the players. It also provided the soundtrack for Drake’s characterization of his former marshmallow, even if he didn’t intend it that way.

I don’t think Hester meant what he said about quitting, but if he wanted to retire just from the wide receiver spot, fine by me. Probably fine by Cutler, too.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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