Has Akiem Hicks peaked with Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

When Akiem Hicks got injured and missed 11 games in 2019 it was fair to wonder if he could get back to the level that he was playing on previously. From 2016-2018 Hicks averaged 7.5 sacks per year over those three seasons. Coming back from his injury in 2020, Hicks only put up 3.5 sacks.

This should not have been looked at as a surprise as not only was it the injury, but also age that is likely holding him back. Hicks was 31 years old last season and will be 32 this year. Last offseason we looked into defensive lineman over the age of 30 and how many of them were able to produce as Hicks did at his younger age.

We found that 11 players hit his numbers at age 28, 6 at age 29, 3 at age 30, and one at age 31. So, Hicks was in a pretty rare company producing like he did at age 29. Then, like most, he could not replicate those numbers at 30, or 31.

It is worth noting that we did find that defensive linemen can still be positive players into their 30s. However, the majority of productive defensive linemen averaged much closer to four sacks per season than they did seven. Their tackles for loss dropped as well. So, they were effective, just not impactful in making plays in the backfield.

Akiem Hicks advanced metrics

Going beyond sacks we wanted to look to see if there were signs that Hicks would not get back to his old ways, other than the idea that many in the past have not. You can see that while he produced less, his pressures and win rate are still looking rather strong.

"View post on imgur.com"

In fact, he had the same number of pressures, just did not see the sacks correlate. He was winning as much, if not more than ever as well.

On one hand, it is unrealistic to expect Hicks to get back to his seven or eight sack ways. On the other, he is now getting Eddie Goldman back from opting out. He also is getting a new defensive coordinator and is getting an offseason where he can train in gyms, and rehab the right way.

Considering he was still producing beyond the box score, there is a chance that regression comes and his sack totals shoot back up.

However, while it is never the exact same way, it is one way or the other that age catches you. It is an injury at age 30, and a weird year without his assistant Goldman at age 31. At age 32, he could be losing playing time to Bilal Nichols, who has seven sack upside, and Goldman who is back.

Next. Expectations for Justin Fields as a rookie. dark

All of a sudden he is still impactful, and a four-sack player, but is not going to be back to his peak.

From 2016-2018 we saw Akiem Hicks at his best. 2019-2021 may not quite be on that level, but the Chicago Bears could still be getting quality play from Hicks over this three-year span. But we can say for sure that he peaked from 2016-2018.