Jets' plan to avoid Devin Hester was more difficult than expected

CHICAGO — Jets punter Steve Weatherford executed three of his four punts just like he wanted: two out of bounds, and one downed at the Chicago 10-yard line.

But in the third quarter, one punt that he said he didn’t hit well went right to dangerous returner Devin Hester.

“He had a (38-yard) return on me, so no, I’m not satisfied,” Weatherford said after the Jets’ 38-34 loss. “That’s the mystique of playing up here. It’s a tough place to kick, and he’s the best returner in the game.”

The Jets’ game plan was to avoid Hester, who set the NFL career record last week with his 14th return for a touchdown. But he had two big returns in the Bears’ 21-point third quarter.

The 38-yard punt return put the Bears on the Jets’ 32-yard line, and Hester caught a 25-yard touchdown three plays later. Later in the quarter, Hester returned Nick Folk’s kickoff 40 yards to the Jets’ 49-yard line. The Bears scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass to Knox on that drive.

Coach Rex Ryan said it was his “understanding” that the ball would not go to Hester.

“That was disappointing to say the least,” Ryan said. “That’s when you see how important it is to kick the ball away from that kid. He’s the best returner in the game.”

The weather changed all afternoon, with wind and intermittent snow. Weatherford noted the elements but said he just didn’t hit that punt well.

A bigger question on special teams, though, was the fake punt on fourth-and-3 on the Jets’ first possession of the third quarter. Sanchez took the snap out of the punt formation and threw to Brad Smith, who dropped the pass.

“We worked it all week,” Ryan said. “We felt good about it. Obviously we made that call. ... It’s just one of those things where we thought that play was there, and we knew that play was there. Again, we have to execute that play.”

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus