Did you know a Cleveland Browns fan has put together plans for a parade if the team completes the unusual dream of a winless season? He’s secured permits and everything. Seriously, it’s a thing.
And if it’s up to defensive end Akiem Hicks, the Chicago Bears will do their part to ensure it happens.
“We won’t be that team. Simple as that,” Hicks said, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “We won’t let that happen.”
That’s a big statement from a big man (Michael: Is it, though?). I’m not one to cast doubt on Hicks, a 6-foot-5, 332-pound powerhouse with a career-best eight sacks and an 87.0 grade from Pro Football Focus that ranks as the second best on the team.
To be sure, if the Bears are going to successfully avoid being “that team” it will likely be due – in part – to Hicks’ presence as a menacing force up front, stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback. No member of the Bears’ front seven has played more than Hicks’ 795 snaps in 2017 and only two teammates (Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller) have been in on more defensive plays. Hicks has been the portrait of production and durability since signing with Chicago before the 2016 season.
Of course, no one wants to be “that team.” And certainly, the Bears don’t want it to be them. The Browns are a punchline and have been for quite some time. But there are times it doesn’t feel as if the Bears are that far off. It’s not like their 4-10 record is anything to write home about. Between teammate fights, rotten sushi, “winning” the worst challenge ever, and a rebuild that seems to lack a light at the end of a tunnel, the Bears and Browns are a few bounces from being the Spiderman pointing at Spiderman meme.
The 2017 season is winding down and Bears players are aiming to finish strong. Individual motivating factors differ between players. Some are playing for future contracts with Chicago or elsewhere in the league. Others aim to establish a winning culture among young building blocks. Ultimately, they’re all playing for a win that keeps them from being the infamous team that kept Cleveland from being the second team in league history to finish 0-16.