General Manager Ryan Pace made a variety of moves during the 2016 off-season in an attempt to fix the Chicago Bears and turn them into playoff contenders.
While the Bears have just three wins in this disappointing season, there have been some bright spots. One of those bright spots was a free agent signee from Pace’s second class.
Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks signed a two-year deal worth $10 million back in March and, through 12 games, he’s certainly proved his worth.
Hicks had the best game of his season in Week 13 when the Bears beat the 49ers 26-6 behind a dominant defensive effort.
The 27-year-old finished with 2.0 sacks, 10 tackles and a forced fumble in the win. His efforts earned him the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
He became the first Bears defensive lineman to win the award in his first season with the team since Julius Peppers back in 2010.
Hicks has made a strong case for a Pro Bowl bid this season, recording 6.0 sacks in 12 games for the Bears. He’s forced two fumbles and recovered a fumble.
His 6.0 sacks are third most on the team, behind edge rushers Willie Young (7.5) and Leonard Floyd (7.0).
Hicks, a former third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints, appears to have found a perfect fit in Chicago's 3-4 base defense and has been very valuable in passing sets as well. If he continues to play like this, the Bears will certainly look to sign Hicks to a long-term extension.
Other stats of note:
- Floyd’s 7.0 sacks on the season lead all rookies in 2016. He’s aiming to become the first Bears player to lead all NFL rookies in sacks since Mark Anderson's 12 in 2006.
- The Bears as a team have 30 sacks in 12 games, seventh most in the NFL. Their Week 13 opponent, the Detroit Lions, have allowed 27 sacks, which ranks 18th in the league.
- The San Francisco 49ers' 6 total passing yards in Week 12 were the fewest allowed by the Bears since they held Atlanta to -22 passing yards in 1985. It was also the fewest net passing yards in 49ers franchise history.
- The 6 points the Bears allowed in Week 13 were the fewest since 2012, when Chicago's defense held the Jacksonville Jaguars to 3 points.
- The Bears and 49ers became the first teams to not complete a pass in the first quarter of an NFL game since the New York Jets and New England Patriots in 1988. Quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Colin Kaepernick combined to go 0-for-3 in the first quarter.
- Chicago’s defense ranks seventh in the NFL in yards allowed. Through 12 games, they have given up a total of 3,922, which averages out to 326.8 yards per game.
- The Bears offensive line has done a great job protecting QB Matt Barkley, who has been sacked just once in his two starts. In comparison, Jay Cutler was sacked 17 times on 157 dropbacks this season. Barkley and Brian Hoyer have been sacked a combined six times on 296 dropbacks.
- Chicago is looking to snap a three-game road-losing streak against the Detroit Lions in Week 14. The Bears have lost six of their last seven meetings to the Lions, recently ending a six-game losing streak with a Week 4 win this season.
- Quarterback Matthew Stafford enters the game red hot. He hasn’t thrown an interception in his last three games and has the Lions on a four-game win streak. In his last two games against the Bears, Stafford has thrown for 795 yards and six touchdowns.
- Bears rookie Jordan Howard has broken or made defenders miss on 25 tackles this season. Miami’s Jay Ajayi leads the league with 39 broken tackles.