Several things began to unfold this week in the wake of the disaster against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. One was rumblings of discontent in the locker room. A lot of people were frustrated by the performance. Justin Fields still looked off. Luke Getsy didn’t have his best day calling plays. Worst of all, the defense fell flat, allowing 31 points to Jordan Love. Hidden beneath all of the talk this week was the revelation that defensive coordinator Alan Williams had stepped away from the team for “personal reasons,” according to head coach Matt Eberflus.
Nobody thought much of it at first. Sometimes, there are issues at home that require attention. Players and coaches usually return for the next game. That expectation took a drastic shift on Friday when Eberflus revealed that he would take over play calling duties on defense with Williams not expected back for the game in Tampa Bay. When asked when the defensive coordinator was expected back, Eberflus admitted he wasn’t sure.
This leads to speculation about what really might be going on. Williams had been facing increased pressure from fans and media for the defense’s poor showings since late October of last season. Between Dallas on October 30th and Green Bay this past weekend, the defense has allowed 25 or more points in 11 straight games. Is it possible he was forced to quietly step down? Nobody can say.
This development may save Matt Eberflus.
One of the most puzzling decisions he made when he took over the Bears was handing off play calling duties to Williams. Not only did the defensive coordinator have a poor track record at the job, but Eberflus was coming off four years of proven success at it in Indianapolis. It would’ve made so much more sense for him to run the defense. Perhaps this game against Tampa Bay will convince him that it might be a good idea to make the change permanent. He’s always had a strong grasp of situational awareness and what plays to call at the right time.
Matt Eberflus put together a top-10 defense every year with the Colts. Clearly, he knew what he was doing. It isn’t crazy to think he might be the breath of fresh air the Bears defense needs to get back on track. Baker Mayfield will be his first test on Sunday. Eberflus has faced the Buccaneers quarterback once before in 2020. The Colts intercepted him twice and forced a fumble. Maybe it won’t matter, but history says the defense should come out with some serious attitude on Sunday.