How Alan Williams' chill vibes help him lead Bears D originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
In the middle of Bears practice on Saturday, the defense busted on a pressure. The coaches had just installed it the night before, and reviewed it, but when it came time to execute on the practice field, it busted. In the past, a moment like that would’ve sent defensive coordinator Alan Williams overboard. He would’ve jumped all over both the player and the coach, and there would be plenty of yelling. But Williams is a different coach now than he was in his younger days. Now, Williams is a much more chill coach.
“It’s Day 4, and that was the first time that guy ran that in practice, so there are going to be some mistakes,” Williams said upon reflecting on his new, more mellow demeanor. “So I would say, ‘Hey, No. 1 thing we do want: execution. That’s important. But the No. 1 thing is, ‘Did you make the mistake a hundred miles per hour?’ Not that the standard isn’t the standard, but we’re working to get there. We just want to improve one percent each day.”
This is Williams’ second stint as a defensive coordinator. He led the Vikings defense from 2012-2013, and has learned a lot from that experience. Between then and now, Williams worked as a DBs coach with both the Lions, and with Matt Eberflus and the Colts. That experience has led to wisdom for Williams, including the wisdom to lean on his position coaches to help him, and to look back at his past in order to improve his present and future self.
“We ask players all the time, ‘Hey, mistakes that you made yesterday — don’t make the same mistakes tomorrow,’” Williams said. “Then be self-aware. Evaluate yourself on a daily basis to see what you’re doing in all phases. What you’re doing, are those the right things? So if I’m gonna ask the players to do those types of things, I have to do that myself.
“I’d hope right now that I’m a little more mature, that I handle situations— adversity— a little bit better. I would think at this point I know football— eight years or whatever that was— a little bit better. I handle the staff better in terms of interpersonal skills. I would hope that.”
The key for the new chill Williams is the recognition that not every problem requires a big blowup. Williams can correct a defensive pass interference, or a busted pressure, without going crazy.
“I was so intense about every situation,” said Williams. “Every situation is not live or die. So right now I think I’m a little bit more relaxed. I’m a lot more relaxed, and so they get to know me. They get to know not just coach Williams, they get to know Alan Williams. So when the guys get to know you, I think that they play for you. Not that the guys didn’t before. But now they get to see me as a person, not just as a coach.”
For now, it seems that Williams’ more serene disposition is working for the Bears. Players talk about the accountability messaging taking hold in the locker room. Guys seem genuinely bought into the HITS program and are practicing hard in the early stages of camp. We’ll see if that translates to crisper play on the field this fall.
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