Oct/30/14 08:39 AM Filed in: Devin Hester
Atlanta Falcons receiver/return specialist Devin Hester played a season-low 11 offensive snaps in this past Sunday's 22-21 loss to the Lions, and most would assume it had everything to do with Harry Douglas returning the lineup from a foot injury.
But Hester and Douglas were on the field together for the first three games of the season, and Hester averaged 20.6 snaps in those games. Hester played 52 percent of the snaps or better in the four games Douglas was sidelined.
When asked about his decreased playing time against the Lions, Hester was far from upset but couldn't provide an answer.
Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who used a four-receiver set with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Douglas and Hester during the first series against the Lions, explained Hester's playing time.
"We had a four-receiver package," Koetter said. "We made a decision, as the week went on based on Detroit's success they had with their front four -- I think they were top two or three in the league in sacks -- and with two new starters on the O-line, that we better batten down the edges a little bit. And going four wide receivers might not be in our best interest, even though having Harry back and Devin, getting those guys back at full speed, that's something we can definitely use. But that might not have been the best front to do against.
"Plus, although it was supposed to be a 'home' game, the crowd noise was an issue. There was a lot of noise in that stadium so, once again, that's another thing. When you're having to use a silent cadence in the shotgun, your tackles are looking in at the ball, not looking at the defensive end. So that's another reason you really don't want to shorten those edges down."
Koetter went with the four-wide look on the Falcons' first third down of the game. Jones ran a crossing route, Hester a go, Douglas a comeback and White a dig. The end result was Matt Ryan hitting White for a 24-yard gain on third-and-8 from the Falcons' 22-yard line. Three plays later, the Falcons again used their four-wide set, with Ryan finding White for a 12-yard gain on first-and-10. The drive ended with Ryan's 7-yard touchdown pass to rookie Devonta Freeman.
Maybe Hester and the four-receiver set will see more action in the next game at Tampa Bay. Hester's best all-around game this season was in Week 3 against the Buccaneers.