Alan Williams has been around the NFL for two decades now. He’s had a lot of success in that time, helping the Indianapolis Colts reach two Super Bowls and winning the Lombardi trophy in 2006. He even helped both the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions make the playoffs in 2012, 2014, and 2016. The longtime defensive backs coach was ready for his second opportunity as a coordinator. New Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus gave it to him.
Some people are skeptical of this decision. Williams didn’t have the greatest success during his last stint as a coordinator in Minnesota. That said, a man can learn a lot in a decade. It isn’t crazy to think Williams can take those lessons and apply them to this second chance. He certainly sounds like a man who has a strong coaching philosophy to lean on. While he understands football is about Xs and Os and play calling in many ways, the truth is a little bit more complex.
The true nature of the NFL is its people.
Williams sat down with Bears reporter Lauren Screenden to talk about his new job and what he brings to the table. There he revealed a vital lesson he learned in working several years with Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy. That football is a people business. The technical stuff doesn’t matter if you can’t manage the personalities required to execute it. He then revealed how he came to appreciate what Dungy meant truly. Through a book about fatherhood.
This demonstrates Williams’ keen understanding of coaching. Establishing a high standard with strict rules can’t work unless a coach can connect with his players. Able to sell them on why doing it this way will succeed. A lot of coaches aren’t able to bridge that gap. Those that do tend to get results. Dungy proved that as head coach in Indianapolis. Then Matt Eberflus did the same as their defensive coordinator years later.
Alan Williams believes he can follow in their footsteps
There is no doubt that he can provide results. His track record as a secondary coach speaks for itself. Everywhere he’s been in the past 20 years has seen the team’s defensive backs excel under his guidance. He inherits a pretty good situation here in Chicago. Two excellent pass rushers in Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. An emerging star at linebacker in Roquan Smith. A talented young cornerback in Jaylon Johnson.
If the Bears can find a couple more pieces to fortify the lineup, this defense should continue to be good moving forward. The tricky part for Alan Williams is getting them to buy into the upcoming scheme change. For the first time since 2014, the Bears will play in a 4-3 defense once again. That will place different demands on personnel. Such a challenge combined with establishing a new standard under the H.I.T.S credo may frustrate some players.
Something Williams expects and is prepared for.
His job isn’t to tell players what to do. It is to show them why doing it this way will lead to winning football games. His understanding of that vital difference in coaching signals the Bears defense should be in good hands.