Sep 18, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester (17) reacts as he returns a punt for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Looking ahead to this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Bears defense will face a potent offense bolstered by playmakers Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Julio Jones. And as Bears fans know, the Falcons added Devin Hester in the offseason. The surprising element in this free agent acquisition is the effectiveness Hester has had in Atlanta’s offense. The Bears were never able to harness the explosiveness Hester showed in the return game and translate that to the receiver position. However, Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter has utilized that ability to the tune of 14 catches for 212 yards and 1 TD catch as well as a rushing TD. Let’s go to the film to analyze Hester’s production through the first 5 games.
Let’s take a look at how the Falcons are employing Hester in the screen game to get him in open space. In Atlanta’s Week 4 game at Minnesota, Hester gets targeted on a Tunnel Screen. In this play, Hester is split wide left in a doubles formation, and at the snap he stems up the field for a step or two before turning back towards the line of scrimmage. The slot receiver and left tackle release to set up blocks on the cornerback and nickel back respectively. Matt Ryan will look to his right before coming back to his left to target Hester.
The Falcons get good blocks on the Vikings defensive backs, but the cornerback does a great job of setting the edge to force Hester back into the teeth of the defense. When Hester sees the linebacker and safety pursuing from the inside, he runs back outside only to get tackled. It will be important for Jennings and Fuller to come up strong in support against any screens, while Mundy and McCray fill the alleys.