In what has otherwise been a dreadful year for the Chicago Bears, let’s not lose sight of Akiem Hicks’ performance on the defensive line.
Hicks leads the team in sacks (7), ranks third in the NFL in tackles for loss (14), and has 12 quarterback hits. He’s also been a workhorse, playing on more than 1,500 snaps (or more than 87 percent) in his two years since signing with Chicago as a free agent before the start of the 2016 season. And the extension he signed prior to this season looks like it will pay off for both the player and the team.
While the Bears have played to a 6-21 record in Hicks’ two years, he has played well and has been a key component of the defense’s successes. With that in mind, you can probably understand why he would come out in support of his head coach:
“I would love to have Foxy back for many years,” Hicks said, via USA Today. “He’s one of my favorite head coaches I have ever had. The way he handles the team and the way he carries himself, whether you as a player are having an up or down day, whether it’s in practice or a game, he’s the first one there to tell you why you are there and why they want you there. He motivates you properly and works you hard.”
Hicks doubled-down on that statement during his Monday morning appearance with the Mully and Hanley Show on WSCR 670-AM:
“As a group and as a team, we’re 1,000 percent behind him,” Hicks told WSCR-AM’s morning show. “I would love nothing more (for Fox to be retained), because just like when there’s a continuity like defensive players that have been around each other for a while, they get better. When you have the same stable coaching group, you can’t help but to get better.”
Hicks is just the latest Bears player to rally around his beleaguered head coach, joining wide receiver Josh Bellamy and guard Kyle Long who spoke up prior to the team’s Week 11 game against the Detroit Lions.
Hicks makes valid points when it comes to the value of continuity as it pertains to growth. And you can’t blame Hicks for publicly supporting the coach who has been there for his biggest success.
But while the defense has been good (especially when healthy), the offense has lagged behind in each of Fox’s three years. And after making a significant investment in quarterback Mitch Trubisky, it seems as if changes to improve the other side of the ball are necessary.