The Chicago Bears are poised to get another great season out of defensive end Akiem Hicks. Hicks has been one of their most consistent players and is just one step away from being tabbed as a star. Is this the year he steps up and gets recognized for his efforts?
The Bears defense was a very talented unit in 2016. In fact, it was much more talented than anyone gave them credit for. While the group did not produce any Pro Bowl players, they are poised to have at least one or more in 2017. The one player that is a lock to become Chicago’s next Pro Bowl player on defense. This player would be its first since 2014 when former Chicago Bears’ cornerback Tim Jennings made the squad.
That player is defensive end, Akiem Hicks.
For a team whose identity is defense, the Bears not having any defenders in the Pro Bowl is certainly something to be concerned about.
But don’t fear Bear’s fans, the time for a Bear defender to represent Chicago in the Pro Bowl is about to arrive. After a great season in 2016, Hicks appears ready to do it all again in 2017. And the Bears will need him to play at or above the level he played at last season.
With Pernell McPhee suffering another setback, the Bears pass rush has taken a hit once again. Hicks will need to help Chicago’s pass rush this season. Chicago can count on him to get to the quarterback as he was able to do that seven times last season. Getting to the quarterback is going to be his number one goal this year and he will be able to do it consistently.
In addition to the seven sacks he posted. Hicks racked up 54 total tackles with 36 solo and 18 assisted. He had two passes defended as well. That is solid production for a defensive end.
Hicks got “going” when he came to the Bears. Before coming to Chicago, he had played in New England and in New Orleans. His second best season came in 2013 when he ended up with 4.5 sacks after playing in all 16 games. That was only the second time in his career he has played in every game in a season (he played in all 16 last season).
Typically a player who performs at a high level earns a big contract. The media has been talking a lot about Hicks getting a contract extension but it hasn’t happened yet. You must admit, he has made a strong case to Bears’ management that he is well deserving of such an extension. Hicks has performed well enough to get paid and deserves more money. Perhaps the Bears will give him what he seeks during the season and lock him up for several more seasons.
Hicks’ playing at a high level will come with some recognition. You can expect him to earn his first Pro Bowl berth this season provided he and some of the key players on defense stay healthy. Hicks should have a break out year and could top ten sacks in 2017.
On a side note, Hicks may not be the only Pro Bowl player the Bears have this season. It’s possible that outside linebacker Leonard Floyd could earn the same honor. Eddie Goldman is another guy that could earn his first Pro Bowl honor. He just needs to stay healthy. Jerrell Freeman may also end up getting into the Pro Bowl this season and probably should have last year had he not been suspended for four games.
Health is the key factor in much of what the Bears can do individually and as a group this season. They didn’t have enough bodies to keep the defense playing a high level in 2016 and that hurt them both as a team and individually. With good health, guys like Floyd, Goldman, Freeman, and Hicks will shine.
You heard it here first Bears fans. This will be the year you finally see a Chicago Bears’ defender back in the Pro Bowl. After an agonizing drought, Chicago will have at least one earn the honor this season. And it’s almost a lock it will be Akiem Hicks. Sure, people say that the game itself doesn’t matter but earning the honor is big for these players and the fans. I hear a lot about how upset fans are that the Bears have no defensive players in the Pro Bowl.
It’s time it happened. Wouldn’t it be nice to get at least one guy in there?