Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano had plenty of reasons to accept his new position. For one it was a chance to get back into the NFL after a year off. That along with inheriting the #1 defense in the league certainly would make his return easier. There was also another reason though. He’d finally get to coach Akiem Hicks.
It turns out the veteran defensive coach has been a huge fan of the Bears’ Pro Bowler for a long time. Going all the way back to when he entered the league seven years ago. While attending the ceremony to present Hicks with the Brian Piccolo Award, Pagano told the story of how he almost interrupted a date with destiny.
Chuck Pagano seems to think Akiem Hicks would still be in Indy today
It’s an interesting point. One of the big reasons Hicks found his way to Chicago was because the New Orleans Saints gave up on him so quickly. He had a good year in 2013 with 4.5 sacks but regressed a bit in 2014 (along with the rest of the defense). The Saints then shifted to a 4-3 system and felt he no longer had a place. So they traded him to New England.
After a half year with the Patriots, he became a free agent in 2016 and GM Ryan Pace, realizing his former team had made a mistake, scooped him up. It’s fair to wonder if any of that might’ve happened if the Colts had drafted him instead. It was Pagano’s first year and he would last until 2017. During that time they consistently ran a 3-4 defense.
It stands to reason Hicks would’ve had his breakout moment along the same timeline and almost certainly earned his second contract from them. Where would the Bears defense be today if that’d happened? This is a question fans and teammates would rather not think about.