Three of the four major signings the Chicago Bears made this off-season came on the defensive side of the ball. The lone defensive lineman added was Akiem Hicks. The 26-year-old spent three-plus seasons with New Orleans before playing 13 games in New England last season playing inspired football.
I broke down inside linebacker’s Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman and right tackle Bobby Massie already, so now it is time to assess the fourth member of this free agent class in Hicks. The game film comes from New England’s Week 13 blowout win, 27-6 over Houston.
Note: Hicks had two sacks, both in the second half as he finished ranked fourth on the team in tackles with six (five solo, two for a loss).
Play No. 1
On 2nd-and-4 midway through the opening quarter, Hicks makes his first appearance on the field. He takes down running back Chris Polk for no gain and comes up with the run stuff.
Breakdown: Hicks gets into the backfield simply with his overwhelming power in his lower body. He destroys three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown to get to Polk and wrap him up with huge arms. This was his best run stop of the night and its plays like this that should get Bears fans excited.
Play No. 2
Early in the second quarter, Hicks adds another run stop. This time it comes against Jonathan Grimes, who gets upfield with his initial burst. Hicks is there to wrap him up before he can get too far.
Breakdown: Hicks beat center Ben Jones solidly from the jump and that leads to a minimal gain and a nice wrap-up. Jones is one of the better centers in the NFL. I like this play a lot from Hicks, he uses his big frame to get around and make the play.
Play No. 3
With the ball near the Texans 40-yard-line, they went back to the ground game with Polk. Hicks doesn’t get there initially and Polk actually gets a nice chunk of yards, but watch how he finishes on the tackle.
Breakdown: Hicks stays in his zone and gets away from Jones yet again to make a stop. This is a nice heads up tackle from Hicks, who really was the only one close to sniffing out a tackle of Polk.
Play No. 4
With just over five minutes left in the third quarter, Houston trailed 20-6 and needed anything they could get offensively. Hicks steps up into the pocket and makes Brian Hoyer wish he wasn’t out there. Just watch. (Note: the sound is distorted make sure to watch on mute).
Breakdown: This is Hicks’s first pressure of the game. He destroys Jones once again right down the center of the line and looks like a legitimate pass rushing force here.
Play No. 5
Houston faced a 4th-and-3 in no man’s land down with just over nine minutes left in the game. Hicks stays patient and gets away from Jones after a nice block initially. He picks up his first sack of the game and first as a Patriot.
Breakdown: Hicks gets away from Jones with a solid swim move and brings down Hoyer in the backfield to give the Patriots the ball back. When he pins his ears back, Hicks is a dangerous and powerful downhill pass rusher.
Play No. 6
This game was just about over, but Hicks gets another sack. This time it comes against backup quarterback T.J. Yates.
Breakdown: This time he gets past left guard Brandon Brooks and explodes into the backfield for his second sack of the night. Another impressive display of overall power here from Hicks.
A former 2012 third rounder from Regina College (Canada), Hicks has come a long away since then. His sudden departure from New Orleans certainly came as a surprise to outsiders but he can excel in the right defensive scheme. With the Patriots, the 6’5″, 324-pounder played really well in a situational role.
This game proved how dominant he can be at times and that bodes well for the Bears, who are in desperate need of a steady defensive lineman who can take over games. He has good leverage off the snap and gets his hands around the ball often on run plays. Hicks did most of his damage to the interior of the Texans line, but he lined up against all five guys and did well against left tackle Duane Brown, the Texans top offensive lineman.
He didn’t play on many third downs in this game, but with Alan Branch and Malcolm Brown starting for New England, Hicks was the odd man out at times. He won’t be with the Bears where he’ll play a substantial role much like his time in New Orleans (48 games, 33 starts).
Thoughts on the assessment of Akeim Hicks?
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