Akiem Hicks believes the Bears defense is ready to bounce back.
The veteran defensive tackle looked back at the 34-30 loss to the Detroit Lions, the second straight disappointing performance by the Bears defense, and concluded that the performance was a result of a unit-wide failure.
"There's not one place you can put the blame," said Hicks. "Everyone's finger is in the pot. We all have to take our onus of the situation. And so I can't, you can't compartmentalize and put it in one area and say 'this is the reason why we lost that game.'"
Hicks has had a strong comeback season after missing much of 2019, recording 41 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. If his production continues over the last four games, his individual statistics will mirror those of his 2018 Pro Bowl season.
After the Bears' 41-25 loss against the Green Bay Packers, the loss was, in part, attributed to Hicks' absence due to a hamstring injury. However, the loss to the Lions, in which the defense surrendered a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter, pointed to bigger problems.
"The first emotion is disbelief," said Hicks. "You can't believe that these circumstances and the period of time that it happened towards the end of the game. You can't believe that you've been put in that situation."
Hicks believes that the team can channel its disappointment into something positive.
"The next part is being a little pissed off about it," said Hicks. "Let it hurt. Be frustrated. Want better for yourself. Then you have to accept it, accept the fact you're in the position, and you've got to do something to get yourself out of it."
The Bears' defense has played its best with Hicks in the game. Last season, the defense allowed an average of 15 points in games when Hicks played compared to 19.8 points without him. After full participation in the last two practices, Hicks is healthy and ready to help right the ship.
Hicks has turned his focus to the quarterback he will face on Sunday: the Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson.
"[Watson]'s a talented quarterback in this league," said Hicks. "I think that he can beat you in a multitude of ways. Our job is to eliminate the things that he does well. That's my perspective as a defender—take away the things that you really love and play from there."
After allowing Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to pass for 402 yards last week, Hicks believes the defense is ready to live up to the standard it has set over the past three seasons.
"We've accepted the fact we haven't played the type of defense that we're accustomed to in these past two games," said Hicks, "and now it's on us to step up and show not just the public, the fans, the media, but show ourselves that we can play the type of football that we're accustomed to."
Hicks believes he has seen a similar attitude from his teammates, praising their efforts in practice after the loss.
"I can talk about just today's practice," said Hicks. "The level of energy and the camaraderie and the guys being not just focused, but together over the course of these practices that we've had, it motivates you, and it tells you that our spirits are in a good place. And that's the only way that you can bounce back is if you have the right mindset."