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Devin Hester or Deion Sanders to return a punt. Who would you choose?


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Okay. Throwing out stats, Hester. Deion high stepped and did other funky things, but Hester was a weapon nonpareil.

How about greatest special teams performance in the Super Bowl going to Desmond Howard and Sean Payton, tied? 

Edited by rockaction
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One return for all the gold?

Sanders.

I hated him but Sanders. (2.83)

Give me 10 returns with best chance over those 10? Hester. (4.44).

Also consider Rick Upchurch - 8 TDs on 248 returns (3.22)

Billy Johnson - 6/282 (2.12) - but his first 4 seasons (3.4).

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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How could it not be Hester?

I mean, Deion was damned good, and fun to watch (though I found him too much of a loudmouth). But it was Hester who broke Deion's ST TD record, and has the most all-time return touchdowns and most all-time punt return touchdowns.

To me it's a no-brainer.

 

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I'm still pissed that this one got called back by a pansy ### penalty that didn't affect anything. 

Teams regularly punted away from Hester. Even when he didn't get to return it the Bears would gain moderate yardage from shanks that went out early. 

Anyway this fake was ####. https://youtu.be/HXxO6f5YSBk

Edited by barackdhouse
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3 hours ago, barackdhouse said:

I'm still pissed that this one got called back by a pansy ### penalty that didn't affect anything. 

Teams regularly punted away from Hester. Even when he didn't get to return it the Bears would gain moderate yardage from shanks that went out early. 

Anyway this fake was ####. https://youtu.be/HXxO6f5YSBk

Good point about the yards gained by shanks. 

The play you highlighted is baffling to me -- was this a shanked kick that went the other way than intended? That's the only reason I can think of why GB's coverage was in the wrong place. I mean, if they were kicking away from Hester, why still try to crowd him in coverage.

If you look where the punter was kicking the ball at the beginning, it was clearly to the left (receiving team's right) where Knox was. Why the coverage went the other way really is strange to me.

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2 hours ago, Stompin' Tom Connors said:

Good point about the yards gained by shanks. 

The play you highlighted is baffling to me -- was this a shanked kick that went the other way than intended? That's the only reason I can think of why GB's coverage was in the wrong place. I mean, if they were kicking away from Hester, why still try to crowd him in coverage.

If you look where the punter was kicking the ball at the beginning, it was clearly to the left (receiving team's right) where Knox was. Why the coverage went the other way really is strange to me.

The Bears absolutely faked the entire GB coverage team (except the punter). The entire Bears return squad, other than Knox and one blocker,  rallied to Hester (to the punters right) as if they were going to block for him. And Hester played it up, looking up like he was tracking the ball. But the kick went far left.

The phantom holding call was the one blocker that reached out and his hand briefly touched the back of the one GB defender that wasn't tricked (other than the punter). Didn't even push him and the defender already had the angle on Knox anyway.

Soooooo much respect got paid to Hester on punts. I'd like to see the stats on how many non house calls he had. How many times did he flip the field with *just* a 40 yard punt return.

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2 hours ago, Stompin' Tom Connors said:

Good point about the yards gained by shanks. 

The play you highlighted is baffling to me -- was this a shanked kick that went the other way than intended? That's the only reason I can think of why GB's coverage was in the wrong place. I mean, if they were kicking away from Hester, why still try to crowd him in coverage.

If you look where the punter was kicking the ball at the beginning, it was clearly to the left (receiving team's right) where Knox was. Why the coverage went the other way really is strange to me.

More specifically to answer your question, no, the GB kicker didn't shank it. It was designed to be kicked away from Hester and the Bears had this fake called. 

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26 minutes ago, barackdhouse said:

The Bears absolutely faked the entire GB coverage team (except the punter). The entire Bears return squad, other than Knox and one blocker,  rallied to Hester (to the punters right) as if they were going to block for him. And Hester played it up, looking up like he was tracking the ball. But the kick went far left.

But...the punt coverage team knows where the kick is headed before the return team does, no? I mean they come in with pretty much a play in hand (cover left/right/tight/deep/contain/pooch/etc.) with coverage assignments. Would imagine a position like gunner has a very solid idea of what their assignments are. 

So I get why you can't always tell where exactly a punt is going to land on a field. And I get momentary confusion by the deadliest returner in NFL history signalling for a fair catch. What I don't get is why the entire coverage team was fooled by this if the coverage team has already decided on the play.

The only explanation is that my assumption that the NFL calls plays for punts ahead of time is wrong. Which, given the tightly controlled, gamesmanship-filled chess game that is an NFL game, seems really weird.

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Devin Hester.

Give me young Hester, please, from his first 2 seasons.

I lived in Chicago during the Hester years. Every time the other team lined up to punt, everyone's attention would perk up to see what would happen. People were expecting him to break it; when he had a big return it wasn't a surprise it was a feeling of "here it comes..." Anticipation becoming reality. Other teams would game plan around him. In 2007 Rashied Davis had 12 kick returns as the up man because teams were afraid to kick it to Hester. And that was on kickoffs; Hester was even better on punts.

I didn't see many of Deion's games in the same way so can't make the direct comparison there, but I can compare the numbers. Deion had 6 career PR TDs. Hester passed that number in his 2nd season and ended up with 14. Deion maxed out at 2 PR TDs in a season. Hester had 3 as a rookie, then 4 more in his second year, and another season with 3 for good measure.

Deion had more pure speed, but it's not just about speed. Trindon Holliday & Jacoby Ford are not the greatest punt returners of all time.

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44 minutes ago, Stompin' Tom Connors said:

But...the punt coverage team knows where the kick is headed before the return team does, no? I mean they come in with pretty much a play in hand (cover left/right/tight/deep/contain/pooch/etc.) with coverage assignments. Would imagine a position like gunner has a very solid idea of what their assignments are. 

So I get why you can't always tell where exactly a punt is going to land on a field. And I get momentary confusion by the deadliest returner in NFL history signalling for a fair catch. What I don't get is why the entire coverage team was fooled by this if the coverage team has already decided on the play.

The only explanation is that my assumption that the NFL calls plays for punts ahead of time is wrong. Which, given the tightly controlled, gamesmanship-filled chess game that is an NFL game, seems really weird.

No. They know where it is *supposed* to go. Zero of the coverage team players (except the punter) are going to be able to see where the kick is going. They are taught to cover the return guy. And that's where all the blockers went, so that is their read. I don't think Hester signalled fair catch, I'd have to look again. I thought he acted up like he was about to catch and run with it. All I can say is it fooled them, obviously. 

Edited by barackdhouse
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