Akiem Hicks understands what is at stake in 2019. Despite playing in New Orleans with Drew Brees and New England with Tom Brady, this might be the best all-around football team he’s played on in his NFL career. These Chicago Bears feel they’re capable of going to and winning a Super Bowl. However, he also knows a team is only as good as its weakest link.
Right now, the Bears only have one. The problem is it’s a pretty important one.
Kickers never get the same notoriety as other players in the NFL. Yet they are one of the most indispensable things in the sport. Teams that don’t have good ones have a much harder time getting deep in the playoffs. For example, since 2000 only four teams have managed to win a Super Bowl with a kicker who had an accuracy rate on field goals below 80%.
None have pulled the feat off in the past seven years. The Bears haven’t had a kicker to top 80% since Robbie Gould left. It is for those reasons that Hicks might not be all that overjoyed by any of the good things the young kickers are doing in practice lately. He doesn’t want promises. He wants results.
“We have to make the kicks. It’s pretty simple. I mean, we have a little fanfare to this right now and there’s a little competition. But we’re looking for the best kicker and the best person to put it through the uprights, and that’s all we’re doing at the moment.”
Akiem Hicks has been scarred by kicker failures before
Contrary to popular belief, the Cody Parkey debacle isn’t actually the first time Hicks has seen his Super Bowl dreams ended by kickers. Back in 2013, the New Orleans Saints advanced to the divisional round in Seattle. Their kicker Shayne Graham missed not one but two field goal attempts. It ultimately killed their comeback hopes as they fell 23-15.
Two years later, Hicks joined the New England Patriots. They reached the AFC championship game in Denver. There the normally unflappable Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point try. Keep in mind this was back when extra points were still short near the goal line. Nobody knew it at the time but that play would prove crucial.
When the Patriots scored with 12 seconds left to make it 20-18, they were forced to go for two. The conversion attempt failed and the Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl. Had Gostkowski made that kick earlier in the game, they wouldn’t have had to go for two and be able to likely force overtime. So one can understand why Hicks has little patience for kickers.