The Chicago Bears had something really good going with Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator. All good things come to an end though. When Fangio left for Denver to become their head coach, replacing him was always going to be a challenge. Chuck Pagano had faults but he at least kept the defense respectable. Now with his retirement, the responsibility falls to Sean Desai. A bold decision by head coach Matt Nagy given the young coach’s lack of experience. However, one that’s been applauded by both former and current players. Akiem Hicks among them.
Nobody has a greater presence in the Bears locker room than Hicks. He is their leader. They go as he goes. So his opinion on anything tends to carry a lot of weight. The former Pro Bowler opened up a rare Q&A with fans on Twitter recently where they were free to ask him any questions they wanted. At one point he was asked if the defense will return to its elite form in 2021.
It was there he gave an unprompted nod of approval to Desai.
Couldn’t have made a better choice for DC. I’ve watched him grow as a coach every year since I’ve been in Chicago. I think it’s his time. He has a system that already worked here with pretty much same personnel
— akiem hicks (@The_Dream99) February 23, 2021
Desai hasn’t hidden from the fact that he considers himself a disciple of Fangio. No coach had a great influence on his rise through the coaching ranks than the former defensive coordinator. The scheme Fangio ran is one he believes in wholeheartedly and plans to reinstall moving forward after Pagano moved away from it the past two years.
Hicks is correct about the personnel situation. Of the 11 players on that incredible 2018 defense that was Fangio’s last, eight of them still remain on the roster. Only Adrian Amos, Leonard Floyd, and Prince Amukamara are gone. Granted, those eight other players will be three years older so it remains to be seen if their new coordinator can recapture any of the same magic from that season.
Akiem Hicks has no plans to slow down
The big defensive end is as motivated as ever to get back on the field in 2021. He’s had to watch other teams win the Super Bowl too often in recent years. His biggest goal is getting Chicago to one. He wants to host an NFC championship at Soldier Field. Several of his teammates feel the same way. Desai’s job is to get them in the best positions to do just that.
For his part, Desai doesn’t seem overly intimidated by the opportunity. He’s been with the Bears since 2013 and survived two head coaches getting fired. He worked hard to get here. It’s clear he understands the challenge ahead and has a plan in mind. When asked about his expectations for the defense? He was crystal clear. He demands they be tough, physical, disciplined, and play fast. Swarm to that football. If you don’t. He’ll find somebody who will.
Just like Fangio did.
That is exactly what Akiem Hicks and the other dogs of this defense need. They want to be let off the leash. They want to attack. Something Pagano didn’t seem to let them do enough in the past two seasons. Here’s hoping the feelings are correct and Desai is exactly what they were missing.