Akiem Hicks talked with Chicago media on Wednesday afternoon, and one of the many topics he insightfully touched up was regarding the Bears' recent team-wide meeting. The team used their Monday afternoon practice period to have a wide-ranging conversation about recent events, and Hicks was – to put it midly – disinterested at first:
I’ll start with my reaction to the team meeting," he said. "Well, to be honest with you, to be completely honest with you, I didn’t have much feeling towards it. I wasn’t excited to get on that call. I didn’t think anything positive was going to come from it. I didn’t know why we were having this moment where we were singing kumbaya and trying to get over what’s really happening in the world. I felt like it might be a control situation where they want to control the narrative and point us in a direction so when we talk to you guys there’s only going to be a certain message that you guys hear.
It's perfectly fair skepticism from the Bears' star, but it apparently didn't take long for Hicks to be moved by what was happening:
It was the complete opposite. It was totally different. I watched young black men, young white men, older coaches from all across the United States and watching everybody rebuild themselves in a way that isn’t common in sport or masculinity in general, and express their real feelings. Out in the open. Out in positions where you feel like somebody could start pointing at you and say, ‘Oh, I don’t know if that’s a good guy. I don’t know [if] we want him or that’s the type of person we want around the building.’ Everybody let those feelings go and shared from the heart and shared their real experiences. There was some hurtful stuff in there. There was some stuff where people were changed and altered for life.
And I won’t speak on it because that’s their story, and that’s what they’re dealing with. But I will say this: as a team, there was a level of healing involved in that call, and there was a level of us just coming together. We just got a little bit tighter because we had this experience together. It was a positive call and I think it changed the lives of some of the young men on the team, and it changed mine. It changed my perspective on life.
While not much is known about the specifics of Tuesday's meeting, it's notable to hear Matt Nagy, Akiem Hicks, Allen Robinson and Danny Trevathan all speak highly of the session.
Pat Boyle, David Haugh and Mark Carman join Kap on a Wednesday edition of STL.
0:00 - MLB teams continue to get ready for Opening Day. Should players feel any more confident in the league’s testing practices?
4:00 - Patrick Mahomes got a 10-year contract extension from the Chiefs. Are any current Chicago athletes worthy of a 10-year extension?
9:30 - KC Johnson joins Kap to look back at “The Decision” on its 10th anniversary. Just how close were the Bulls to landing LeBron, Bosh and Wade?
19:00 - The panel remembers where they were when LeBron made “The Decision”. Plus, they give their Blackhawks playoff odds.
Listen here or below.
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It wasn't long ago that the Chicago Bears offensive line was considered a strength of the team. They were one of the best in the NFL in 2018. The Bears' starting five was a big reason why the team went 12-4 and won the NFC North that year, but that wasn't the case in 2019. Chicago's offensive line had a lot to do with the team's underwhelming 8-8 season.
As a result, the Bears' starting group isn't getting much respect entering the 2020 season. According to Pro Football Focus' recent ranking of all 32 offensive lines, Chicago checks in at No. 22.
The Bears regressed from a fringe top-10 offensive line in 2018 to the 25th-ranked unit last season despite most of the group remaining intact. Left tackle Charles Leno saw the biggest drop-off in play, as he had four straight seasons grading in the 70s from 2015 to 2018 but finished at just 58.6 overall last season, good for just 64th out of 82 qualifiers. Leno earned his worst pass-blocking grade since 2015 while posting the lowest run-blocking grade of his career, at 47.5.
While PFF's ranking isn't great, there was a bit of optimism baked in. The analytics powerhouse still believes in the o-line's potential.
The Bears have the pieces to rank among the top 10-15 offensive lines in the league, but they need the tackles to get back to their 2018 form to go with progression from at least two players on the interior.
One of the big reasons why the Bears' offensive line struggled last year was the aftermath of Kyle Long's injury. Rashaad Coward was elevated to the first team; Cody Whitehair and James Daniels swapped positions. The best offensive lines have continuity, and that was lost in 2019.
With Germain Ifedi stepping into the right guard spot in 2020, and both Whitehair and Daniels settled in at center and left guard, the Bears will begin this season in much better shape and with a much better chance to return to the level of play we saw in 2018.