There is often a belief that players who sign big money multi-year extensions tend to pack it in after signing on the dotted line.
Akiem Hicks didn’t look like one of those players.
One day after singing a four-year extension that included $30 million guaranteed and could be worth up to $48 million, Hicks was the best defensive player to take the field for the Bears on Sunday. Out to prove that last year’s showing of being one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL was no fluke, Hicks opened the season strong with two sacks, two tackles-for-loss, and three quarterback hits. And according to Pro Football Focus, Hicks also added three pressures and three run stops.
Atlanta Falcons guard Wes Schweitzer had no answer for Hicks, allowing more total pressures to hicks than the rest of the line allowed the entire game. Schweitzer earned a lowly 30.8 grade from PFF after being beaten down up front by Hicks.
As for Hicks’ efforts, PFF’s analysis team gave him an 84.8 grade that represented the best showing among Bears defenders. Hicks did it all against the Falcons, making plays against the run and the pass. Unfortunately (and, of course) a roughing-the-passer penalty on third down, which kept the defense on the field, led to a score in a game that was decided by just six points.
You can count on the Bears to continue leaning on Hicks as this season continues. Jerrell Freeman (56) and Leonard Floyd (55) were the only members of the front seven who played more snaps than Hicks’ 49. Considering Pernell McPhee’s status as a part-time player (he played just four snaps, per PFF) and Danny Trevathan’s continued recovery from a season-ending knee injury, the Bears must get more out of the defensive line and Hicks looks to be the guy who can provide the boost.