The Chicago Bears’ season took an unexpected turn Wednesday when defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned for what he said were personal reasons.
“I am taking a step back to take care of my health and my family,” he said in a statement. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with the Chicago Bears, a storied NFL franchise with a rich history.”
Williams’ resignation was part of a wild day at Halas Hall, with quarterback Justin Fields indicating he is being given too much information by the coaching staff and thinking too much as a result rather than trusting his instincts. Fields said later in the locker room that his quotes were taken out of context and that he is not blaming the coaches.
Williams’ departure comes just two games into his second season with the Bears. He missed last week’s loss at Tampa Bay after working the opener against Green Bay.
Chicago-based attorney Andrew M. Stroth insisted Williams resigned for health and family reasons. He told The Associated Press neither Williams nor his family are facing any legal issues.
“They’re not facing them at the moment, and they’re not gonna be facing them,” Stroth said.
Stroth has worked with sports figures and personalities for 25 years, negotiating business partnerships for Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Michael Vick, and Donovan McNabb. The list includes Cubs great Ernie Banks and several Bears, such as former coach Lovie Smith. Stroth is also a civil rights attorney.
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He would not say how long he has worked with Williams.
“Coach Williams has tremendous respect for the NFL shield,” Stroth said. “He’s got tremendous respect and relationships throughout the Bears organization and the McCaskey family. Coach Williams decided he needed to take a step back because of the personal health and family matter.”
Coach Matt Eberflus called the defensive plays in Williams’ absence and figures to do so again when the Bears (0-2) visit Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) on Sunday.
In his statement, Williams thanked the McCaskey family, which owns the team, as well as Eberflus, general manager Ryan Poles and President Kevin Warren.
“After taking some time to address my health, I plan to come back and coach again,” he said.
The Bears issued a one-sentence statement saying, “Alan Williams submitted his resignation as the team’s defensive coordinator this afternoon.” Media relations staff handed reporters Williams’ letter, which was on a plain white sheet of paper that did not have the team’s letterhead.
“The Bears have been very supportive of coach Williams,” Stroth said. “Even though the statement was short, I think that was based on the respect that the Bears’ organization has for coach Williams. And because it’s personal and health and family related, I think they wanted coach to kind of speak for himself versus the Bears really saying too much.”
Earlier in the day, Eberflus shed little light on the situation, saying he didn’t have “any update right now” when asked if Williams still had a job. He gave similar answers when asked if he anticipates Williams returning this season and if the two have spoken.
Williams’ departure leaves an obvious hole in the coaching staff.
It raises questions about whether Eberflus can spend enough time tending to a struggling offense while leading the defense. Eberflus said the Bears can get by without a defensive coordinator and doesn’t see it becoming problematic because of the experience of his staff.
“I think with the experience that we have on defense, I don’t think that’s an issue,” he said.
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Chicago hired Williams in February 2022, shortly after Eberflus got the Bears’ head coaching job. Williams spent four seasons as Indianapolis’ safeties coach while Eberflus was the Colts’ defensive coordinator. It was his second stint with Indianapolis after coaching defensive backs for 10 seasons from 2002 to 2011.
Williams was Minnesota’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013. He has more than three decades of coaching experience.
“I hope he’s OK, I hope everything’s all good but when you get to the building it’s just focus on the job first,” defensive tackle Andrew Billings said. “When you come here, everything else out of the building leaves and you focus on what’s important and that’s the next game.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article