There are few things that I get a kick out of more when watching an NFL game than seeing Akiem Hicks completely engulf a ball carrier.
If you’ve watched enough Chicago Bears games then you know exactly the type of play I’m talking about. A ball carrier starts to dart up field, but then he sees the mammoth 6’4”, 352 pounder open his arms wide enough to take away any potential cut back angles, then he gets swallowed up by the monstrous Hicks.
With Hicks on the field for the Bears he has the ability to change game-plans. He may not be as statistically impactful as a dominating edge rusher, but make no mistake about it, where Hicks is lining up is something all offenses identify when breaking the huddle.
He’ll win more often than not if left one on one, but what makes him so dangerous is his ability to win with strength, quickness, and guile. If you’ve yet to watch it, be sure to check this video out of Akiem breaking down his play with Brian Baldinger.
In 2019 the Bears missed Hicks’ presence as he was held to only five games due to a couple of injuries. In his previous seven years as a pro, Hicks had only missed a total of three games, but now he’s fully rehabbed and ready to get back to his Pro Bowl form of 2018.
“What I’d like from him is to get back to where he was,” defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said of Hicks via the team’s website. “He missed a lot of games last year, so all of his production that he had from previous seasons, those are the things we missed.
“We know he’s a dominant player inside. He creates a lot of problems for a lot of people. He’s a mismatch for a lot of guards and centers and sometimes tackles as well. And those are the things that elevate your front—guys like him who are able to just dominate at his spot.”
With Hicks drawing attention, that’ll give Khalil Mack and new edge rusher Robert Quinn more opportunities. Not to mention the help his mere presence is for fellow d-linemen Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, and Roy Robertson-Harris.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano recently spoke about what Hicks brings to the team.
“You can’t replace him,” Pagano said. “Certainly, we’re different when he’s out there playing at a high level than when he’s not. In the meeting room and around our guys, he’s a wise, wise man. He’s a smart guy. He gets it. He knows what’s going on. When he speaks, people listen.
“He’s a smart guy. He’s got a ton of wisdom, and the great thing about him is that he’ll share it. There’s a lot of great players and great leaders and men who’ve played this game that won’t take the time to help young players and share their knowledge and their wisdom, but Akiem’s different that way. He’s just a phenomenal human being, and again, he just gets it and understands it.
“He’s really, really hungry. And really eager to get back on the field and be with his brothers out there competing and playing. He’s a great man. Nothing but great love and respect for him.”
I hope my fellow Bears’ fans understand just how special a player Hicks has been during his time in Chicago. Not only on the field, but in the locker room, and off the field as well. The 30-year old Hicks is only signed through the 2021 season, but if he’s playing football I want to see him playing in Chicago.