Most Important Bears of 2022: No. 11 Alan Williams

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The Chicago Bears are gearing up for the 2022 NFL season, which features plenty of new and returning faces within the organization. There are a number of players, coaches and front office members that are crucial to the team’s success this season.

Every day from now until the start of training camp, we’re counting down our 30 most important Bears for the 2022 season. We’ll recap their 2021 season, look ahead to 2022 and tackle the biggest question facing them this year.

Coming up at No. 11 is new defensive coordinator Alan Williams, the first coach to be listed in the series who is tasked with turning the Bears defense into an elite unit once again.

Background

AP Photo

Position: Defensive coordinator

Age: 52

Experience: 22nd season as coach

2022 cap hit: N/A

2021 recap

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For the last four years, Williams served as the defensive backs coach with the Indianapolis Colts, working closely with then-defensive coordinator and current Bears head coach Matt Eberflus. The Colts defense wasn’t terribly impressive stats wise, finishing in the middle of the pack in various categories such as yards per game (16), and passing yards per game (19). But they took the ball away with ease, finishing second in the league in takeaways with 33. They were also tied for first in forced fumbles with 14.

As the defensive backs coach, Williams helped develop young players like Kenny Moore and Rock Ya-Sin, two players who have become key contributors for the Colts, as well as revitalize Xavier Rhodes’ career after he fell out of favor with the Minnesota Vikings.

When it came to the Colts defense as a whole, the unit had an up-and-down season. There were good weeks, like when they essentially shut down high-powered offenses such as the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, and Buffalo Bills. They would then struggle against teams like the New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and even the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, who knocked them out of the playoff picture in week 18. It was a frustrating season for the Colts, but it was good enough for Eberflus and Williams to get hired in Chicago.

2022 outlook

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Coming to Chicago with Eberflus, Williams gets his first shot as a defensive coordinator since his time with the Minnesota Vikings 10 years ago. The 52-year old coach held the same position with the Bears’ division rival from 2012-2013 under former head coach Leslie Frazier with mixed results. Now, after a decade as an assistant, he’s continuing as Eberflus’ right-hand man to help the Bears transition to a 4-3 defense for the first time since 2014 and put an emphasis back on creating turnovers.

Williams has a background in the Tampa-2 defense with Tony Dungy and, like Eberflus, will likely run a similar style with the Bears. It will be reminiscent of the Lovie Smith days and like those defenses, Williams has talented individuals at every level who can be the foundation. Players like Roquan Smith, Jaylon Johnson, Trevis Gipson, Kyler Gordon, and Jaquan Brisker are all potential building blocks that Williams will work with to hopefully give the Bears another elite defense that excels at taking away the football.

Big question: Can Williams be an effective defensive playcaller?

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Williams is an accomplished defensive assistant, but in his 22 seasons as a professional coach, he’s been a defensive coordinator for just two of them. During those seasons, his defenses went from average in 2012, to awful in 2013 with players questioning the playcalling and Frazier getting involved with those duties when the Vikings season was sinking like a ship.

Now 10 years later, Williams is much more experienced and should be able to better navigate tough waters. He and Eberflus have spent the last four seasons working side by side and the trust is clearly there given the desire for the two men to work together again in a new city. There’s a bit of an unknown but Williams will get every chance to show he’s a capable play caller. If he’s not, Eberflus may wind up having to step in to take over and that’s not what you want to see from a first-year head coach with bigger fish to fry.

We’re counting down our 30 Most Important Bears of 2022. Check back every day leading up to the start of training camp.

 

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