The Defensive Linchpin: Akiem Hicks

November 17th, 2022

Swagger and physicality.

The past two games, Joe thinks the Bucs defense has played some awesome ball. And it really should be no surprise why.

The past two games the Bucs have had defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. As always, Joe doesn’t believe in coincidences in the NFL.

Guess who else has played good ball the past two games? Devin White. There’s a reason for that.

Remember the video Joe brought from Wade Phillips breaking down the Bucs’ loss to Baltimore. It was the same game after which Warren Sapp said the “C” should be ripped off White’s chest. Phillips, however, defended White’s bad game.

Phillips pointed out how Baltimore center Tyler Linderbaum had a clean shot at White play after play after play that night. Phillips said no matter how good White may be, he’s not going to win a one-on-one matchup against a mobile center who has an 80-pound advantage.

Enter Hicks.

What has White done since Hicks returned? Oh, how about 23 tackles, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, a sack and a forced fumble.

Not too shabby.

And of course, Hicks, White and company shut down one of the hottest backs in the NFL in Munich, Seattle’s Kenneth Walker, holding him to 17 yards rushing.

After the game, Joe spoke with Hicks and he sounded like Todd Bowles.

“We knew that had to be a focus, stopping the run coming into this game, as it should be every game,” Hicks said. “When you make a team one-dimensional you have a great chance of winning.”

While that’s true, it sure seems like this defense, which has allowed a total of 489 yards the past two games and only five third-down conversions in the eight quarters, has turned a corner from good to great since Hicks returned to the field.

Hicks, humble, refused to take any credit for the upswing in the defense.

“I couldn’t say so,” Hicks said, disagreeing with Joe. “I will say this: I am a particular type of player that does a certain thing very well. Once you get me back on my spot, things happen good.

“I would say the defense was good long before I stepped on the field. I remember being up in Chicago and watching this defense fly around. Guys like Vita Vea, guys like Devin White, guys like Lavonte David. Guys moving around making plays — [Antoine] Winfield.

“So I was a fan of this defense before I got here. I wanted to be part of this experience.”

To Joe, the proof is in the pudding. Hicks on the field is making a massive difference.

“He’s such a phantom,” Carlton Davis said of Hicks. “He’s fast, he’s physical. He’s smart.”

The Bucs starting to play excellent defense once Hicks is on the field? That’s no coincidence. And Hicks has gotten healthy just as November hits and the Bucs win back-to-back games.

Some say November is when real football begins.

36 Responses to “The Defensive Linchpin: Akiem Hicks”

  1. Casual Observer Says:

    Agree, Joe. He makes a big difference. Smart and strong. Stay healthy.

  2. August 1976 Buc Says:

    BUT………The Elephant in the room is: how long will he last until hurt again?

    I hope for the best, we shall see.

    Hicks is needed big time.

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  3. Deeez NATZ Says:

    I wouldn’t say great joe lmao.More Kool aid please…I sure hope the players don’t read this blog.

  4. #8 Says:

    Suh in case.

  5. Your Mom Says:

    I remember seeing Chicago play and what a total stud he was then… I am happy they snagged him here.

  6. Your Mom Says:

    It’s also coincident with the loss of Shaq Barrett, but we’ll consider that indeed a coincidence.

  7. Mike Says:

    The run defense is way better for sure with Hicks and Vea in the middle. Sure hope he can stay healthy for the rest of the season!

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Our defense improved even without Shaq……that’s great….

    But, our healthy secondary contributes a great deal to our success…

  9. Duane Says:

    Hicks’ contribution cant hurt. White looks like a much better player when he is not fighting off blockers. The whole line is playing better. Likely a bunch of factors that includes better play, and different assignments with Shaq out. Its working, and when 45 shines, we normally have success. He isnt the only player on D balling out, but for some reason, the success of the defense seems to be attached to his performances. We do ask a lot of this kid.

  10. Uncle Urk Says:

    If he or the new LG get hurt, it’s back to losing 5 out of 6 games.

  11. Rod Munch Says:

    This is why you don’t draft rookie defensive lineman and expect them to start.

    Watch the tape of Logan Hall in college. He’s throwing around guys who look like they’re 5′ 9″, 235lbs. Sure, it looks impressive, but has nothing to do with the NFL. That doesn’t in any way mean Hall is a bust are won’t end up being good, but you generally don’t want an undersized defensive lineman starting his rookie year, it pretty much never goes well.

    That’s where Hicks makes a huge difference.

    BTW, Hall is listed at 6′ 6″ 280lbs, which for a 4-3 is great, but in a 3-4, where you’re main job at end is to stop the run, you want guys closer to 300lbs, plus, Hall looks very skinny for 280lbs. Maybe he’s a legit 280lb, but he sure looks like a guy who is closer to 260, but I could certainly be wrong. Regardless getting up close to 300lbs, will probably help him quite a bit, so long as that’s muscle.

  12. Dooley Says:

    In terms of FA acquisitions in 2022 I believe Hicks is the most valuable piece we’ve added to the roster this season. Like the energy he brings, and he already seems to be one of the more vocal(and articulate) guys we’ve got in our DL rotation. Stated after we signed him a full season wasn’t to be expected, but giving us 10-11 games would be a success considering his injury history. If we can keep him healthy these last 7 games, and get that playoff berth it’ll be interesting to see if Hicks has the juice left to turn it up in the playoffs. Another indirect benefit is since Hicks’ return from injury Vita Vea has had 3 sacks in 2 games and that only hurts opposing offenses.

  13. Beej Says:

    Hicks had torn a muscle in his foot, I don’t know that THAT is indicative of him being ‘injury prone ‘… That’s more in the ‘stuff happens’ category

  14. JBBUCS_06 Says:

    Watch the Hicks Mic’d up against the Seahawks and it tells it all. He’s a gamchanger in the middle and you see play after play him eating space and blocks that allow other players to make plays. And when they left him 1on1 he destroyed the block and RB Walker.
    A healthy Bucs D is a SB contending D. Period.

    Get Logan Ryan back by week 15 and sky’s the limit.

  15. Vlad The Impaler Says:

    Yes, please stay healthy.

  16. Dooley Says:


    To your point, Bucs posted a video package of every sack made this season, you can get to the :58 second mark of the video see Hicks ease up mid rep and favor his left foot versus the Saints. I’ve always hated the “injury prone” label in football, because all 22 guys on the field are effectively prone to injury because they’re on the field of play.

  17. DoooshLaRue Says:

    I trust the Fancy Man’s take on Logan Hall’s size.
    Rod seems like a natural when it comes to “sizing up” men.


    Go Bucs!

  18. Smashsquatch Says:

    He’s the catalyst. Cross your fingers everyone, if he stays healthy, the sky’s the limit for this team. As Hicks go, so do the Bucs. Chaad’s angry run was a breakout moment. Love his trajectory in the offense.

  19. Redeemer Says:

    Duane is right on. As well as being disruptive up front, Hicks also ties up blockers. This is imperative for Bowles defense, so the linebackers are free to make plans. I don’t care how good you are, a linebacker in a 3-4 defense can’t do anything with a 300 pound lineman in his face. If Hicks can stay healthy, this defense is scary good up front. It’s the back end that concerns me. Hopefully Ryan can get back.

  20. SB~LV Says:

    Well then, it seems we’re drafting someone for his role next in the first round

  21. Elita Vita Says:

    Now for the Offensive Linchpin: Will Ryan Jensen be able to play this year?

  22. Mike Johnson Says:

    Hicks seems to have a great attitude. He has fun. Hit hits hards, blocks well and his looks are deceiving. he looks like a softie. He is not. Just stay healthy guy. We need you down this stretch.

  23. Browsing from DC Says:

    Just like everyone saying Suh was washed because his “numbers” were down last year and many said Hicks was a bust, not just injury-wise, but because of his “numbers”. They don’t have a stat for “presence in the middle” or “tying up one or two blockers” so other guys can get “numbers” (tackles, sacks, hurries, etc).

    Wade Phillips was spot on concerning D. White. Hicks, like Suh, is a “linchpin” as Joe points out. Vea’s game has improved as well.

    Fans get too caught up in “numbers” and are fickle as hell. Fans dub Fournette “Lombardi Lenny” one day then want him traded the next because the o-line isn’t clicking and his “numbers” are down. As great as Barry Sanders was he had more tackles for loss than you could count. He “tip toed around” behind a putrid o-line waiting for a hole to open. Sound familiar? Lenny is no Barry (nobody is) but cut the guy some slack.

  24. Steven007 Says:

    Doosh, you mentioned it before I did. Munch is obsessed with the weight of our players. Not saying that I disagree with all of his takes regarding such, but… Where there’s smoke…

    Hall is actually the perfect size for a defensive end in a 3-4. Having them rotate hom in and out of that position once he’s more experienced will probably be the tactic. Inside on obvious passing down so you can bring some heat. Once he’s more seasoned, as an end on running downs he should be able to perform well either against the run or pass.

  25. JimbobBucFan Says:

    Hall will bulk up in the next two years here. We have excellent sports science and training staffs to overseee the process.

    It of course remains to be seen how healthy Hicks will be this year and next. I have decently high hopes because of the staff we have.

    Go Bucs! 🏈

  26. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Hicks can be a dominate type of player, and unlike Suh, is a danger to rush the passer.
    Since he returned, he has been awarded double teams, by our opponents.
    These double teams have freed up our other players to better make plays.
    We are a MUCH better team when Hicks is playing.

  27. Defense Rules Says:

    Hicks … “When you make a team one-dimensional you have a great chance of winning.”

    Ooooh, great line. I wonder if Akiem was looking at all our losses when we couldn’t run the ball for beans when he coined that.

    Steven007 … Agree with you that Hall is the perfect size for a DE in a 3-4. When he’s played too far inside though, it sure hasn’t looked like he has the quickness & strength to be able to ward of the huge interior OLinemen & hold his gap. Like JimbobBucFan said though, a year or two with our training staff & that might make all the difference. In the meantime, I’d say that we’d better re-sign Hicks PLUS draft an real DT to pair with Vea in the future.

  28. Dooley Says:

    Where’s #8? Suh signed with the stinking Eagles

  29. Bucfan1988 Says:

    Dayummmmm, Suh signs with the Iggles???
    Ughhhhhhhhh 🙁

  30. orlbucfan Says:

    Bowles and Licht made the decision to let JPP and Suh go. They signed Hicks who’s younger. I bet he got healed right around the time LVD called that players meeting. Bucs D has been massive ever since and beat 2 decent teams in the process. I feel for Shaq Barrett, but that’s Buc Luck. Bucs will be beat Cleveland, winter and all. Anyone have an update on the Bills’ game tonight? They’re predicting several feet of snow. NFL will cancel and reschedule if need be. Climate change flexing its muscles.

  31. PassingThru Says:

    Hicks is an upgrade over Suh when healthy.

    When healthy.

    I’d like to think the more reasonable fans knew Hicks would never make it through a 17 game schedule; the question was whether he’d return from injury in time for the postseason.

  32. David Says:

    Hicks healthy.
    Winfield healthy.
    Godwin healthy.
    Julio healthy.

    Leverett at OG.

    Things are looking up!
    Get Gage healthy and PASS the ball to setup the run

  33. Dano Says:

    Hicks is a HUGE difference maker. Not a coincidence! Let’s just hope he stays healthy !

  34. steele Says:

    “Enter Hicks”? Start your countdown to “Exit Hicks”. Not reliable. Like many of us, I agreed with the initial signing, but it was up to the Bucs to more carefully vet his health. There were many other options.

  35. brooks Says:

    Superbowl suh

  36. Eric b Says:

    Lfgo!!! Stop the run game against cleaveland!!!! Take away thier strengths exploit thier weaknesses, lets get some creativity in our offense LFGO!!!!!